eli5 why do so many of the “health conscious” and “environmentally friendly” alternative milks, oat, almond and soy, come packaged in the most complex cartons ever?


Am I just wrong about how long it takes for these packages to decompose? Why do dairy producers seem to have a monopoly on paper cartons?

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Dairy milk gets purchased frequently so it can come in flimsy cartons that require refrigeration. Oat milk may sit on the shelf for months, and as such needs a package that allows it to be shelf stable. In places that sell ultra-pasteurized dairy milk which is shelf stable it is sold in the same packages as alternative milks.

Dairy spoils fast so it doesn’t matter much how you package it. Almonds suspended in vanilla water can last for a long time if properly sealed, so the seals are more robust.

Paper cartons are actually very hard to recycle due to them being impregnated with wax to make them water tight and most processors won’t take them. They are also very energy intensive to produce vs plastic.