Tetra Pak caps climate impact while growing business

A host of eco-innovations developed by Tetra Pak in 2014 have put the multi-national food packaging and processing company "well on track" to hit its 2020 sustainability targets.

Higher recycling rates, lower carbon emissions and the commercialisation of the world’s first 100% bio-based carton marked a successful year for Tetrapak, which today (16 March) provided an update on its environmental credentials.

“We set ourselves some aggressive environmental targets and, by and large, we remain nicely on track to achieve them,” said Tetra Pak’s newly-appointed vice president for the environment, Mario Abreu.

“We well-recognise the absolute imperative of keeping a sharp focus on this ever-more important dimension of our business; securing growth while acting and operating in ways that best protect the future of our planet, and delivering the products, services and support that help our customers to do the same.”

Tetra Rex 

The update highlights a number of new food processing and packaging solutions which the firm says helped customers reduce their own environmental impact, while improving operational efficiency.

The year saw the launch of the world’s first fully-renewable carton package, the Tetra Rex Bio-based. Made solely from paperboard and plant-based plastics, the package is currently being trialled by Finnish dairy producer Valio in retail outlets across the country.

Other initiatives included the development of a new high-acid juice pasteurisation process that can save manufacturers up to 20% on energy consumption; a broader range of bio-based caps and closures that can reduce emissions by 14-19% compared with fossil-fuel-derived equivalents; and the launch of a new environmental benchmarking service to help food and drink firms assess the environmental performance of their production operations. 

2020 vision

Tetra Pak has a 2020 goal of capping climate impact across the value chain at 2010 levels. Data validated mid-way through 2014 revealed that carbon emissions across all parts of Tetra Pak’s value chain were down 8% from a 2010 baseline, despite a 7% increase in production over the same timeframe. Within Tetra Pak’s own operations, the company continued to keep emissions below its 2010 target threshold. In 2014, emissions were 1.5% lower than in 2010, while production levels were up 13%.

Tetra Pak’s recycling efforts also continued to progress last year. The company recycled 651,000 tonnes of used beverage carton globally, up from 623,000 tonnes in 2013. This represents 26% of the company’s annual delivery – which remains relatively low compared to the 2020 target of 40%. But the company says it “remains committed” and is working with its partners to address the challenges, such as a “lack of infrastructure in emerging markets”.

The packaging business, which employs more than 23,000 people, secured Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Chain of Custody certification for the last seven of its 92 facilities and legal entities worldwide in 2014. This means that the company can deliver FSC-labelled packages from anywhere in the world, marking an important step towards its goal of using only FSC certified paperboard in all of its products.

Video: Tetra Pak & the environment

Luke Nicholls

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