Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses has developed recyclable polyethylene (PE) packaging for its hard, soft and blue cheeses, making it the first cheesemaker in the industry to have a fully recyclable British cheeseboard.
Combining traditional cheesemaking with a love of innovation, Butlers is a fourth generation family business that’s best known for hand making some of Britain’s best loved cheeses like Blacksticks Blue, Button Mill and Sunday Best, from its rural Lancashire home.
Butlers has invested in its packaging strategy over a number of years and has worked closely with industry experts including Ian Schofield (known for his plastics work with Iceland) over the last 12 months to bring the future for cheese packaging to retailers. M&S will stock ‘This is Proper’, fully recyclable goats cheese from 4th November 2020.
Butlers’ PE packaging can be recycled as one unit without compromising on shelf life or customer curb appeal – demonstrating that it is possible to reinvent cheese packaging, right now. Cheese packaging is traditionally made up of several different polymers which in turn makes it so difficult to recycle. Butlers’ new packaging is a single polymer, including the label and barrier (with different barriers developed for the type of cheese), meaning it can be widely recycled.
Schofield says: “Sustainable cheese packaging is notoriously difficult to get right with different cheeses having complex packaging needs from managing taste and quality, maturity, interaction with light, heat, oxygen etc.
“Sustainable cheese packaging doesn’t have to be – and absolutely shouldn’t be – a goal for five years’ time, or for the 2022 plastic tax levy. We had no interest in short-term solutions like reduced plastic or TerraCycle initiatives that rely on the end consumer. We know that the recycling infrastructure isn’t where it needs to be today, but we didn’t allow this to stop us in our tracks. Doing this now is the right thing to do – the waste streams will follow.”
Never standing still, Butlers is already in phase two trials in its packaging journey, using a number of natural alternatives such as seaweed. Matthew Hall, fourth generation owner at Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses, says: “We’ve always been a business that looks ahead. Using our collective expertise to come up with innovative solutions is what drives us and means we can continue to make premium quality, award-winning British Farmhouse cheeses.
“We now have a credible solution for the shopper that is doing the right thing for the environment. Transforming our packaging now, for the future, is a big step forward, and anyone wanting to leverage the growth within speciality cheese with a range of farmhouse cheeses that deliver great taste, real provenance and game-changing packaging, should get in touch.”