Food processing and packaging manufacturer Tetra Pak is taking steps to better align itself with the demand for more sustainable and environment-friendly packaging solutions.
Tetra Pak president and CEO Adolfo Orive says the company has, over the course of 2019, witnessed awareness and expectations around the environment reach a new high among customers, consumers, the media, nongovernmental organisations and regulators alike.
In this regard, he says the company has identified three focus areas, the first being to address climate change, where Orive says the packaging industry needs to reduce the overall impact of its products and operations on the climate.
“This has been in sharp focus with various legislative initiatives, such as the European Green Deal.”
The second focus area is one in which the advancement of the circular economy takes place, which includes eliminating waste and ensuring end-of-life use for packaged products. He says this is already being driven by legislation around the world, with a strong focus on single-use plastics.
The third focus area is aimed at protecting biodiversity – an issue that has been highlighted by the recent wildfires in Australia, Brazil and California.
“All three areas are key to initiatives that we have been pursuing for some time. In fact, they are inextricably interlinked. In addressing climate change, we cannot ignore the materials sector and the role that packaging can potentially play,” notes Orive.
He adds that it is also not enough to focus only on “reduce, recycle and reuse” when promoting circularity and that the industry should take into account the climate impact of the materials that are used in the first place.
“Consequently, we believe in a low-carbon circular economy that drives a shift from high-carbon, fossil-based materials to low-carbon, renewable materials, which can also help to protect biodiversity.”
As such, Tetra Pak has plans to convert all its factories to use renewable energy by 2030, as part of its efforts to achieve net zero greenhouse-gas emissions in its operations.
Orive says it is Tetra Pak’s view that the “ideal package of the future” should be made solely from renewable or recycled packaging materials, 100% recyclable and supportive of a low-carbon circular economy.
As part of its efforts to create sustainable products and solutions, he says the company, in 2019, accelerated its efforts towards this goal with the restructuring of its developmental initiatives and significantly ramping up its research and development budget, the results of which are already show “great progress”. This is evidenced through the company being the first packaging company to launch paper straws in Europe.
In addition, Orive points out that Tetra Pak is launching a field test of its first aseptic package with an alternative to the aluminium barrier. “Our goal is to field test an aseptic package made fully from renewable sources by 2022.”
Further, Tetra Pak is also driving resource efficiencies with its equipment and services, focusing on reducing water use, food waste and carbon footprint in its customers’ operations.
The company has also continued its efforts to enhance sustainability across the value chain through ensuring its operations are a global benchmark, driven through initiatives such as World Class Manufacturing and investing in renewable energy and green buildings.
Tetra Pak is also working with its suppliers to promote renewable materials, reduce emissions and protect biodiversity and fresh water sources.
To help further these aims, in partnership with its long-term supplier Braskem, he says Tetra Pak became the first company in the food packaging sector to obtain Bonsucro Chain of Custody certification for its plant-based polymers, which are used to ensure full traceability from plantation to product.