Tetra Pak ‘Protects What's Good’ according to their brand promise. This coincides with the news that has just been released by the Swedish multinational packaging company. Last week they announced their new aseptic carton. This new packaging solution will be made from a bio-based plastic film and cap made from polymers derived from sugar cane. The carton giant has announced that this is the first aseptic carton package to receive the highest class of Vinçotte certification - the world recognised accreditation agency for renewable packaging products. Combined with paperboard, it means that this packaging is made from 80% of renewable resources. Additionally, it has a 17% lower carbon footprint than standard packaging, according to an independent lifecycle analysis conducted by IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
The multinational food packaging company was founded by Ruben Rausing and built on Erik Wallenberg’s initial innovation – a tetrahedron shaped plastic-coated paper carton, from which the company name was derived. Tetra Pak ( @tetrapak ) first established in 1952 with a different approach to the unsustainable packaging process. Since then, the firm now produces packaging, filling machines and processing for prepared food and drink. Tetra Pak is currently the largest food packaging company in the world by sales, operating in more than 170 countries and with over 23,000 employees. In their 2016 sustainability report it stated that:
- 43 billion Tetra Pak packages have been recycled
- 100% of their paperboard now comes from FSC certified and controlled wood sources
- And since 2011, they have produced over 6.4 billion caps made from bio-based plastic
Charles Brand, Executive Vice President, Product Management and Commercial Operations at Tetra Pak said: “There is a growing trend that consumers want to do more for the planet, and they want brand owners to help. With the authentic certification from Vinçotte, our new package gives customers credible information to communicate with consumers, and helps them differentiate their products.
Late 2014 was the first date that Tetra Pak created the world's first renewable package - the Tetra Rex Bio-based package. Manufactured solely from a combination of bio-based plastics, derived from sugarcane, and certified paperboard, the product was awarded an array of prizes and distinctions during its first year on the market. Since then over 200 billion Tetra Rex packages have been produced so far. The bio-based plastics used by Tetra Pak are produced by Brazilian chemical company, Braskem, which sources all of its feedstock from sugar cane grown on degraded pastures. Tetra Rex Bio-based became available in a range of sizes, from 250ml to 2000ml, for all chilled milk specifications.
Tetra Rex Packages are made from flat-packed blanks, which are easy and economical to transport and store. Using blanks in production has the added advantage of making it easy to switch between different package volumes of the same bottom format.
However, the latest version of Tetra Brik Aseptic 1000 Edge with Bio-based LightCap 30 package is available to customers globally. Switching to the new version requires no additional capital equipment investment.
“Increasing the use of renewable materials, defined as natural resources that can be replenished over time, plays an increasingly important role in mitigating resource scarcity and climate change,” said Philippe Dewolfs, President of the Certification Committee from Vinçotte. “This is the only aseptic carton package we have certified so far and it has qualified for four-star certification."
What does the future for Tetra Pak hold?
Their ultimate goal is to produce all of their packages by only using sustainable managed renewable materials. It looks like this new innovation may be the start of that journey.
The company is driven to change more of the material supplies that they use to improve this figure of 80% to 100%. Omer Emran, Global Product Manager for Environmental Innovations, Tetra Pak, as reported by Packaging News said: “We need to secure a certain volume before asking the supplier to change from fossil to bio-based. There is a cost differential in producing bio-based material. But again you need to look at the value that the package is providing for a customer, and eventually to the consumers. Customers look at it as an investment in their brand to boost their KPIs and their commitment to sustainable product development.”
The sutainable packaging industry
Last month Bio-Based World News spoke to Mark Geerts, CEO of PaperFoam - a green packaging company, explained that overall little was being done in the area of sustainable packaging. He said in our 5 minutes with: "PaperFoam is still a new concept to most people in the packaging industry. To begin with we faced the problem that the product was too new and this meant that we couldn’t predict how consumers would respond to the product. Only a few people were familiar with the technology that we used. I would say that the biggest problem that we found is trying to promote the benefits of purchasing our products which are just as good, if not better from existing packaging products on the market, and 100% sustainable. Although we don’t have many competitors in the market who use environmentally friendly resources like PaperFoam, most of our competition still comes from conventional packaging materials like paper and plastics."
Going forward, Geerts emphasised that governments need to implement strcter guidelines about waste plus additional subsidies for new bio-based start-ups.
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