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How to cut down on yoghurt pot plastic pollution

On average, each French inhabitant eats 128 yoghurts a year - but many of the plastic pots they come in are difficult to recycle

Plastic yoghurt pots are rarely recycled resulting in 2.8 billion sent to landfill each year Pic: AtlasStudio / Shutterstock

More than 100,000 tonnes of plastic yoghurt pots are used each year and the majority cannot be recycled, reports the French consumer organisation Que choisir.

It has published tips on how to cut down on such pollution.

How to cut down on plastic

  • Try to avoid small interconnected yoghurt pots - of four or eight - that are made from polystyrene. Although this material is light and easy to break - making it ideal for this type of packaging - it is currently very rarely recycled.
  • Some brands of crème brûlée, crème caramel and crème aux œufs come in ceramic pots. However, while these may look pretty, they are not great for the environment, as not can they not be recycled, they take a lot of energy to manufacture and transport, and so are better avoided.
  • Aluminium, commonly used for clafoutis, flans and rice pudding, is fairly well recycled, according to Valentin Fournel from Citeo, a company created by rubbish-producing companies to manage and fund the packaging processing.

    However, it uses “around five times” more energy than plastic to manufacture, so again not ideal.

  • Like aluminium, glass is easily recycled, however, again it consumes a lot of energy during the manufacturing, transporting and recycling processes.

Read more: Change to recycling rules in France and what can go in yellow bins

What are the best alternatives?

  • Individual plastic yoghurt pots (family pots of fromage blanc for example) are made out of polypropylene which is easy to recycle.
  • You can also buy large cardboard pots of yoghurt, which is easier to recycle than plastic, does not pose any long-term pollution issues and consumes less energy than glass during the manufacturing and transport stages.

         While you can buy small cardboard pots of yoghurt, larger ones are better as             less packaging is used for the same quantity of yoghurt.

  • Some yoghurt pot-based desserts, such as fruit compote, are easy to make at home.

         The compote can then be decanted into refillable containers to take out and             about, for example, to picnics.

         However, while making yoghurt yourself at home is an option, you still have to          buy milk to make the yoghurt and the yoghurt machine itself will one day end           up in a landfill.

  • Some shops and brands offer refundable glass pots for their yoghurt. You simply take the pot back after the contents have been eaten for them to be reused.

         Doing so can also save you money, as you will get a small deposit back for                 doing so.

         The contents of your yoghurt pot can have as big an impact as its container.

  • Try buying organic yoghurt, so the cows involved are not fed by soy imported from Brazil and covered in pesticides, go for yoghurts and desserts made with local, in-season fruit and only eat two per day (three for children and adolescents).

You could also try vegan alternatives, such as a soy-based chocolate dessert, which, according to ADEME - the French Environment and Energy Management Agency - emits half the amount of greenhouse gases as a cow milk-based equivalent.

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