Chobani is adding a new sustainability measure into its production process, introducing a paper cup for its signature vegan oat milk-based yogurt. The company – known primarily for its range of Greek-style yogurts – announced that it would be redesigning its packaging to produce a more sustainably manufactured container. The new packaging cups will consist of 80 percent paperboard to replace the majority of the plastic in its previous design. Currently, the food brand packages its cold brew coffee, creamers, and oat milk in paperboard, making the oat milk yogurt the latest in its overall sustainable push.

“We all have a role to play in protecting our planet,” Chobani Founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya said. “People have been asking for a paper cup, and we welcome this challenge to start reducing our plastic use, and to spark a conversation about how we can drive change together.”

Even though the company intends to reduce plastic production with this decision, recycling mixed material packages remain to be a difficult process. While Chobani is still producing mixed material packages, the company is demanding that the recycling industry restructure its practices. The national recycling industry encompasses more than 10,000 municipal-run recycling centers with its own rules.

Despite discrepancies between recycling facilities that may make this change difficult, Chobani’s CEO hopes that this change will encourage industry-wide repackaging as well as more in-depth recycling practices. Ulankaya explained, “While this paper cup is a step in the right direction, it’s just the beginning,” discussing the company’s goals for sustainability into the future. The food company will complete the introduction of its paperboard oat yogurt cups by the end of the year while developing sustainable packages for its other products.

Chobani also plans to team up with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition to advocate for nationwide improvements in the recycling infrastructure. With concerns of waste and excess plastic production rising, the company aims to not only redesign its own product packages but also restructure the recycling industry.

"Innovative packaging often challenges the current recycling capabilities across the U.S.," the company said. "As part of our work in bringing this cup to market, we will continue collaborating with partners, including the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, and policymakers to advocate for improvements that expand the recycling infrastructure in this country."

Beyond introducing paper to replace plastic, Chobani has increased its plant-based selection over recent years. The company’s plant-based expansion adds to its overall sustainability effort. A 2018 Oxford University study found that dairy milk production produces three times more greenhouse emissions than plant-based milk. The study also concluded that it takes nearly 10 times as much land to produce dairy milk compared to oat milk.

Chobani’s oat milk range debuted in early 2019 with five different flavors including Strawberry, Vanilla, Peach, Slight Sweet Plain, and Blueberry. Alongside the single-serve cups, Chobani debuted a line of yogurt drinks including Mango, Slightly Sweet Plain, Strawberry, and Vanilla Chai.

Following its oat milk yogurt success, the company began exploring the coffee sector, developing its first barista oat milk product. The company continued this production, releasing two oat-based creamers in both original and vanilla flavors. The oat milk product range now includes ready-to-drink coffee beverages containing its signature oat milk.

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