The company’s environment performance director Mario Abreu tells FoodProductionDaily that Tetra Pak is a leader in replacing fossil fuel-based polymers with bio-based plastics – last year the company launched its LightCap 30, made from sugar cane-based HDPE – but “for us making food safe and available is more important” than achieving a 100 percent renewable carton.
The company is aiming to double the global recycling rate for used beverage cartons to 40 percent by 2020. In 2013, the global recycling rate for Tetra Pak packages reached 24.5 percent, with about 43 billion being recycled, 4 billion more than the previous year. The US was a bright spot, TetraPak says, with a consumer access rate for recycling infrastructure that grew from 41 to 48 percent.
And last year the company launched the Tetra Evero Aseptic 1000 Separable Top, a product designed to enable consumers to detach the plastic top from the carton sleeve, allowing the components to be recycled separately.
But Abreu says part of the recycling challenge – the lack of infrastructure in many countries – is beyond the company’s control.
Tetra Pak has also set a goal to cap climate impact across the value chain at 2010 levels by 2020, while still growing the business. Between 2010 and 2013, Tetra Pak reduced the climate emissions from its own operations by 2,000 tons CO2e, while achieving 12 percent growth in the number of packages sold.
Takeaway: Tetra Pak says that while it’s made gains in making its cartons renewable, it won’t rush to be the first company to offer a fully renewable carton.
Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.