Food packaging and processing company Tetra Pak aims to ensure sustainable packaging for its products by using ecofriendly material throughout the design and manufacture of the packaging.
Tetra Pak Pinetown plant manager Waqas Ali explains that this ecofriendly approach manifests in the designing and manufacturing of packaging that is made of renewable resources, comprising of approximately 70% paper along with plant-based polymer and using about 60% less plastic than other options.
“With a high focus on equipment efficiency and waste reduction we are continuously reducing carbon emissions.”
Aseptic packaging is a specialised manufacturing process during which food contents are sterilised separately from packaging. The content is then inserted into the container in a sterile environment using extremely high temperatures to maintain the freshness of the contents This is done through the ultra-heat treatment process where food is processed through high temperature for only few seconds which eliminates the bacteria but ensures food freshness. The final product is then shelf stable for over six months, highlights Ali.
Ali highlights: “Our aseptic packaging method passes flat, unformed packaging material through a heated hydrogen peroxide bath which has a hydrogen peroxide concentration of 30% and is heated at 70 °C for 6 sec.” Hydrogen peroxide is then eliminated from the packaging material using pressure rollers or hot air.
He explains that the environment where food is handled and sealed must also be free of potentially contaminating bacteria. That means filling and sealing machinery must be sterile before packaging and during the production process and this can be achieved using hot air and steam or by combining heat treatment with hydrogen peroxide chemical sterilisation, while ensuring that it is not contaminated with microorganisms, says Ali.
With a shelf life of six months, and without the need for refrigeration or preservatives, the combination of aseptic processing and packaging reduces waste, significantly increases the cost efficiency of distribution and converts products into a consumer-ready format, explains Ali.
“Since the product is packed in an aseptic packaging, which protects it from air and light, bacteria doesn’t grow. It enables the product to be delivered to consumers without refrigeration which saves tremendous cost for our customers,” he adds.
Tetra Pak is always “pushing the envelope to ensure what they do can make a positive impact on the planet”, he adds, noting that at least 67% of the company’s packaging comprises renewable materials. The long-term goal for 2050 is to ensure that 100% of all packaging is made of renewable materials.
In its approach towards future sustainability, Tetra Pak uses the low carbon circular economy model by working to reduce climate impact and using renewable resources to reduce the companies’ impact on the environment.
The company also aims to ensure that all processes in the company become net zero by 2030 and is, therefore, striving to reduce energy-related emissions throughout its operations.
Reducing all energy-related and greenhouse-gas emissions throughout its operations has enabled Tetra Pak to improve its energy efficiency. The company will continue to stive for alternative forms of renewable energy to use in its operations, adds Ali.
“Tetra Pak has been active in the South African market for more than 60 years and helps to deliver safe and nutritious food to customers and consumers.”
With more than 200 employees spread across three offices; a Pinetown plant in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal; and all the major liquid food producers as customers, the reach is vast, says Ali.
“As South Africa is a key market for Tetra Pak, the ambition is to invest in the Pinetown plant to secure our competitive advantage in Southern Africa, ensure sustainable packaging and commit to a low carbon circular economy,” he concludes.