Tetra Pak is one company proud of its track record on the environment, from sustainable forestry to the use of bio-based plastics and the development of an international carton collection and recycling infrastructure.
In its 2019 Sustainability Report, the firm announced it was investing €80m (£70m) in developing tethered caps and alternatives to fossil-fuel based plastics, as well as €20m (£17.5m) in recycling infrastructure.
However, it admitted there were challenges ahead. In a webinar to launch the report, vice president of sustainability Mario Abreu explained how public perceptions that plastics packaging, in particular, had been causing major environmental problems meant that Tetra Pak had increased its focus on the circular economy.
“We believe this has to happen together with a low-carbon economy,” he added, pointing to the company’s cut in CO2 emissions from 13.7mt in 2010 to 11.9mt in 2017, despite increases in production.
Lack of materials
As a signatory to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation New Plastics Economy, Tetra Pak has undertaken to use 10% recycled polymers by 2025. “This may not sound much, but there is currently no food-grade recycled low-density polyethylene available,” he said.
“We expect that change to happen,” he explained to Food Manufacture. “We’re collaborating with some of our suppliers on this.”
The EU Single Use Plastics directive is placing particular demands on the packaging supply chain. “All caps and bottles for beverage containers will need to have tethered caps by the end of 2024,” said Abreu. “We already have a number of solutions that are tethered – but others are not, so we are expanding our offering in this regard.”