In an Australian first, an Adelaide-based yoghurt manufacturer is using plastic washed up on beaches and found in oceans to create environmentally friendly tubs and lids.
MOO Premium Foods founder Mick Sanders says it was a barrage of questions he received from nine-year olds, at a primary school talk, that sparked the idea for the yoghurt tubs created with 100% reclaimed Ocean Bound Plastic.
About 100 tonnes of plastic – the equivalent to 1.1 million plastic bottles – will be removed from beaches, oceans and waterways this year alone, thanks to MOO.
Mick said he went to Parkside Primary School “prepared for the kids to ask me questions about how yoghurt was made”.
“Instead, they fired questions at me about what MOO was doing to be sustainable and reduce its impact on the environment. I was really surprised by their interest and knowledge about environmental issues, and I knew we had to do more,” said Mick, who founded MOO with his wife, Sally Sanders, 17 years ago.
Mick and Sally spent the past two years working closely with St Mary’s manufacturer TechnoPlas to stay at the forefront of packaging innovation. A year ago, they discovered a Malaysian company converting plastic collected from the ocean, beaches and waterways into food-grade plastic resin.
“This was an absolute game-changer. We finally had the opportunity to help clean up plastic pollution and make a real difference,” said Mick.
“At the very least, we knew we’d be able to make a yoghurt tub from a mix of new and reclaimed plastic, but we really wanted to push the boundaries. To finally see the resin and realise it could successfully be made into 100% reclaimed Ocean Bound Plastic tubs was fantastic.”
Ocean Bound Plastic is the term to describe all the plastic waste that has ended up in the ocean, as well as plastic rubbish found within 50km of a coastline that is not managed and at risk of ending up as marine debris.
Creating MOO’s 100% reclaimed Ocean Bound Plastic tubs starts in Malaysia, where recycling company HHI partners with locals to collect washed-up plastic from more than 200 beaches and rivers, in line with strict United Nations’ ocean plastic collection protocols. The work provides employment in underprivileged coastal communities, as well as helping to clear polluted waterways.
The collected plastic is then sorted, crushed, washed and melted down into resin, which then goes through a decontamination process that meets food-grade US FDA 21 CFR 177.1520 test compliance.
HHI is also certified by Zero Plastic Oceans to confirm that the recovered plastics meet the Ocean Bound Plastic standards.
MOO imports the food-grade plastic resin (US FDA 21 CFR 177.1520 test compliant) and local manufacturer TechnoPlas moulds it into the yoghurt tubs and lids.
It is the first time in Australia that food-grade packing has been made from 100% reclaimed Ocean Bound Plastic. The tubs are 100% recycled and 100% recyclable – the tub, lid and foil just need rinsing before being placed in kerbside recycling bins for the process to start over again.
HHI CEO Kian Seah said it was exciting to work with partners like MOO to realise new uses for reclaimed Ocean Bound Plastic and create products that can become part of a circular plastic economy.
“We have the ability to work towards a cleaner future, one that sees plastic as a valuable and reusable resource,” said Kian Seah. “Ultimately, we hope that one day we won’t have any ocean plastic to find – that will be a true success.”
It’s expected that by 2050, the world’s oceans will contain more plastic than fish.
MOO is proud to be playing an active role in removing plastics from our seas and help raise awareness of this major environmental problem.
“I can now tell the kids that even their recess makes a difference, with just one small tub of MOO yoghurt saving the equivalent plastic of nine bottle caps from beaches and waterways,” said Mick. “As parents of four girls, who are very invested in making a difference to the environment, Sally and I are really proud of this journey to make our manufacturing footprint more sustainable.”
The change in packaging attracted the attention of Woolworths, which is now stocking MOO products nationally.
The MOO’s Greek-Style Yoghurt (910g) is available in Woolworths stores nationally and MOO’s flavoured Premium Yoghurt Range (160g and 720g) is available in New South Wales, South Australia, and the Northern Territory. The MOO range is also stocked at independent supermarkets in South Australia and Western Australia.
In addition to acting on packaging, the family-owned business sources all its milk directly from local South Australian dairy farms, who use innovative grazing systems and water efficiency to minimise waste, energy and water usage.