Tetra Pak ‘making steady progress’ towards recycling target

Tetra Pak needs to double recycling rates in order to hit a target of 40% of used beverage cartons being fully recycled by 2020, according to the packaging giant's latest sustainability report.

The report also explains that Tetra Pak will need to triple the number of recycled cartons, to about 100 billion a year, by the end of the decade.

“To do this, we need to improve the recyclability of our products and increase the rates of recycling at a global level by focusing on raising consumer awareness, sharing knowledge and expertise, facilitating collection infrastructure and supporting recycling technology development,” the company stated.

Tetra Pak sold 178,412 million packages in the year, giving it the potential to widely embed sustainability and lead best practice in the sector. The recycling rate of Tetra Pak packages in 2013 reached 24.5%, the equivalent of 43 billion recycled cartons worldwide and a steady increase from 22.9% in 2012. Against its 2020 goal to hit a 40% recycling rate of used beverage cartons, the firm must double its rate from a 2010 baseline.

Protecting futures

The report goes on to explain that 1.1 billion Tetra Pak packages were delivered to customers featuring sugarcane-based, bio-based caps in 2013 – nearly doubling the number sold in 2012. The firm also widened its use of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paperboard from 38% in 2012 to 41% in 2013. Now, 32 billion Tetra Pak packages carry the FSC label across 60 countries.

In terms of social performance, the report highlights the firm’s Dairy Hub concept, which links smallholder farmers with dairy producers in places such as Kenya, Bangladesh and Nicaragua.

Tetra Pak says the 2013 results ‘showed that the company is making steady progress towards its 2020 targets – to cap climate impact across the value chain to 2010 levels, despite business growth’.

“It is about protecting futures; by developing the products and services that will support the future business growth of our customers, and by acting and operating in ways that best protect the future of our planet,” said Tetra Pak’s chief executive Dennis Jönsson.

Low-cost solutions

Since 2010, the firm reduced climate emissions from its own operations by 2,000 tons CO2e, while achieving 12% growth in packaging production.

However, Tetra Pak’s total energy use rose to 4,330,972 GJ in 2013, 77% of which came from packaging material converting. Water use also rose. To combat this, Tetra Pak’s auditors suggest it reduces energy use through both simple, low-cost solutions and more advanced installations requiring substantial investments.

“Savings in the range of 10-12% have been identified through these audits and suggestions,” the report explains. During 2014 and 2015, we will focus on the implementation of the identified improvement measures.”

In terms of tomorrow’s materials, Tetra Pak continues its work to create bio-based plastics from a variety of sources beyond sugarcane; ranging from organic waste to algae.

Last year, edie exclusively reported that Tetra Pak was considering a roll-out of bio-based polyethylene in its carton packs across the world if a trial in Brazil is successful. The trial took place during the first quarter of 2014 and results are pending.

Luke Nicholls

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