“I am in a central role in relation to sustainability. This role is an interesting challenge because customers are becoming very demanding and more and more aware of these issues.”
Have you taken a sip from an orange carton recently? If you inspect it closely, the packaging could have been produced by Tetra Pak. Established in 1951, Tetra Pak is known for its aseptic processing and packaging technology. In order to meet the global challenge of a growing scarcity of fossil-fuel based raw materials, the company is aiming to increase the use of renewable resources in its products.
Here, Liz Gyekye, senior content manager at Bio-Based World News catches up with Davide Braghiroli, product manager for Environmental Innovations at Tetra Pak Packaging Solutions, based in Modena, Italy.
Liz Gyekye (LG): Welcome to 5 Minutes With. Can you begin with a description about Tetra Pak and what it is the company does?
Davide Braghiroli (DB): The company started in the mid-20th century with the creation of a geometric milk carton that is the forerunner of the ubiquitous drink box. The Swedish inventor, Ruben Rausing, studied at Columbia University and became fascinated there with what American engineers were doing with food packaging. He tinkered until he introduced, in the 1950s, an inexpensive paperboard-based package that could store liquids without refrigeration. Moving to a box shape meant it could be easily stacked and shipped. The combination transformed Europe’s dairy industry. Tetra Pak grew into a conglomerate that sold other types of containers as well as water purifiers, bank note dispensers and other products.
LG: Before working at Tetra Pak, what did you do?
DB: I started working in the local administration office in Modena as a risk specialist manager. I mainly dealt with emergency plans and safety plans in case of earthquakes. We looked at flood events, landslides and potential industry accidents. I made plans to see how we could move people from one place to another in case of emergencies. I worked there for three years. After this, I moved to Tetra Pak and worked in the quality system department. Here, I worked on environmental issues and dealt with quality management systems. After one year, I moved to Tetra Pak’s Modena site, where I mainly supported environmental assessments of R&D and product development projects.
LG: What’s been the biggest challenge you and Tetra Pak have faced?
DB: My first experience was in local administration, so I was dealing with public offices and a different way of working. It was a very formal environment. When I started at Tetra Pak, this type of formality was completely dissolved. The first big change was the agility in the way of working. There are a lot of committed people at Tetra Pak, and I found that everyone here is working towards the same objectives. It was really interesting to note how this international company was cascading its mission in quite a comprehensive way, from the top all the way to the bottom. This really impressed me.
LG: What is coming up next for your company?
DB: Tetra Pak has been working on a ten-year strategy towards 2020 objectives. Now the company is reaching its 2020 objectives, it will soon be reviewing and analysing these aims. We will be asking questions such as ‘what is the company currently delivering and what are the gaps in achieving these objectives?’ We have really been focusing on sustainability, especially in relation to packaging. The company is currently focusing on what will be the next steps forward and the next opportunity in the next ten years. At the moment, we are starting the 2030 strategy review. I am in a central role in relation to sustainability. This role is an interesting challenge because customers are becoming very demanding and more and more aware of these issues. We are all on a journey together and it is inspiring to be part of it.
LG: What is your favourite sustainable/bio-based product?
DB: Any material that moves away from fossil-based plastics to renewable resources. Renewable plastic is one element that we need to focus on to improve the profile of packaging, especially when it comes to tackling the carbon footprint. Renewability of materials, and the circularity of materials is key, as well as being able to clearly communicate this to consumers.
Davide Braghiroli will be speaking at the World Bio Markets Conference, the leading assembly for the bio-based economy, in April next year in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.