The CEO of the global packaging business Tetra Pak has pledged a “step change” in the company’s approach to sustainability issues in the future.

Dennis Jönsson promises his company will “step up efforts to reduce our environmental footprint along the value chain and to meet rising demand for safe and nutritious food”.

The company’s latest biennial sustainability report, Mission Possible, details what the firm is doing to reduce its environmental impact, help customers build their businesses, ensure a robust, reliable and far-reaching food supply and improve the health and lifestyles of people across the globe.

“We have been doing this since 1952, but we know we need to do more,” says Jönsson, noting that “the world is changing faster than ever, and companies that want to compete and thrive must adapt to some of the key drivers shaping our industry, driving innovation and a step-change in sustainability”.

A growing population; an increase in the number of 60-plus year-olds; the economic rise of Brazil, Russia, India and China; an expanding middle class; depleting resources; globalisation; urbanisation; technological change; and stricter environmental legislation and taxes, have all been recognised as factors that will demand better sustainability performance.

Tetra Pak’s 2020 strategy, introduced earlier this year, puts the company’s environmental ambitions at the heart of its business. “It is a strategy focused on continuity – doing what we do well and building on our achievements. But it’s also about transformation,” says Jönsson.

“We recognise the need to accelerate innovation, to enhance our operational performance, achieve environmental excellence, develop our people and build our reputation.”

Through six decades Tetra Pak has worked closely with local entrepreneurs to support the creation of food processing and packaging businesses around the world. The company helped establish school feeding programmes that now benefit around 49M children in more than 50 countries.

Its Food for Development Office partners with customers, governments, UN agencies and other public and private agencies to help meet the UN Millennium Development Goals to reduce poverty, and improve health, education and gender equality worldwide.

And the company has focused on enhancing the environmental profile of its products and services – from the design of processing and packaging solutions to responsible sourcing and the recycling of used cartons, partnering with such organisations as WWF and the Forest Stewardship Council.

Tetra Pak met its 2010 climate goal, reaching 13% absolute carbon reduction since 2005 while growing its business and has pledged to cap carbon emissions across the value chain at 2010 levels by the end of 2020.

The recycling of used cartons have increased by more than 1B cartons a year since 2002 and now the company aims to double the recycling rate for used beverage cartons by the end of the decade. Tetra Pak will develop packaging material based on 100% renewable materials and increase the supply of FSC-certified paper board used in its products to 100%, with an interim target to achieve 50% in 2012.

The business has also pioneered the development of dairy hubs in Pakistan, bringing together small groups of farmers, to deliver a unified approach and economies of scale, increasing animal vaccination rates, reducing animal mortality, training tens of thousands of farmers and massively boosting milk collection volumes.

Tetra Pak is now supporting the creation of dairy hubs in other countries such as Bangladesh.

Tens of millions of children worldwide receive milk and other nutritious drinks in Tetra Pak packages in school. These school feeding programmes not only help improve children’s nutrition, but also help increase school attendance, improve better academic outcomes and stimulate local dairy and other food economies for jobs and prosperity.

“We know we need to do more,” adds Jönsson. “So from 2011, we will step up our efforts to improve operational performance and reduce our environmental footprint right along the value chain.

“My role is to set the goals and create the mindset that will make this happen. At that point, our success is down to the creativity and the commitment of Tetra Pak people.

“And we can’t do it alone. To drive positive change along the value chain, we must continue to build on our strong partnerships with customers, suppliers, governments and non-governmental organisations.

“With these relationships in place, I’m confident that we can achieve our business growth ambitions in a way that fully reflects our promise: to protect what’s good, both inside and outside the carton.”

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