The yogurt pot: why is recycling so difficult?

Agri-food giants such as Lactalis, Yoplait and Bigard will participate in financing a polystyrene recycling sector. Really good news for the environment, as it’s a material that makes up the bulk of everyday food and you never know what to do once you’ve finished it: the yogurt pot. Because recycling is indeed very difficult. A serious problem when you know that every Frenchman eats 170 in one year. We explain it to you.

Oil in our strawberry yogurt? It’s kind of like that. In fact, a yogurt pot is usually made from a polystyrene made from hydrocarbon. It is no coincidence that manufacturers choose this material. With this option, they can offer you easily divisible and separate samples. The problem is that it is a non-biodegradable and non-renewable waste.

“When collecting the waste, the jars can break into small particles, making them unprocessable by the sorting machines and when the yogurt jar is thrown into nature, these mini particles also increase the pollution of the seawater. »

The start-up Carbiolice

This argument is all the more important as our yoghurt pots are sent to Spain or Germany to undergo a recycling process where possible. “The result is a heterogeneous material, used to make pendants or flower pots. The current points of sale therefore have a low added value and the return on recycling is quite low. r-PS (recycled polystyrene) granules are often black and never suitable for food contact”writes Citeo, which supports companies in managing their waste.

Today, 70% of the French population has no choice but to throw their yoghurt pots into the household waste. This means that they will eventually be burned, or worse, buried! Only a few cities, such as Lens, have introduced the yellow bin for this type of waste.

But that is not everything ! Polystyrene is not the only manufacturing material. There is also the yogurt lid, which can sometimes contain aluminum. You can also recognize your favorite yogurt thanks to the label, which is made of paper or printed with another resin. In short, there is a “potpourri” of materials here that seriously complicates the task of recycling.

Why are glass and cardboard not solutions?

Thus comes the question of other materials that can be used for packaging our raspberry concoction and which you have already seen on the shelves. Why aren’t retailers using more glass, if not cardboard, to sell their yogurt? In the first case, we know that it is a material that can be recycled indefinitely. Based on sand, soda ash and limestone, glass is not the miracle solution because its components have to be heated to very high temperatures to obtain the final material. The energy consumption will be all the greater because it will again be necessary to increase the mercury to recycle it.

On the cardboard side, the material is difficult to generalize in the manufacture of yoghurt pots. According to Carbiolice, dairy products cannot be packaged as they are due to the humidity, which prevents the food from being stored properly. So these jars are sometimes covered with paraffin or polyethylene to form a barrier between the cardboard and the yogurt.

(ETX Daily Up)

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