Tetra Pak and Elvir are partnering to become the first carton packaging players in the F&B industry to launch a cap using certified recycled polymers.
The companies are aiming to find an economically sound use of plastic waste and responsibly sourced raw materials to continue minimizing their dependency on virgin, fossil-based resources.
Davide Braghiroli, product director packaging materials alternative barriers at Tetra Pak, tells PackagingInsights: “We use the same responsible sourcing requirements for our recycled polymers that we use with all our purchase categories. As a signatory of the UN Global Compact and in support of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12 Responsible Consumption and Production, responsible sourcing is a strategic objective for our organization.”
Chakib Kara, managing director for France and Benelux at Tetra Pak, adds: “We are extremely proud of the work being done alongside Elle & Vire. Both teams are inspired and motivated by a shared commitment to develop more sustainable food systems. Together, we are contributing to making recycling more economically viable, while addressing increasing consumer preference for responsible companies.”
This one-step resealable screwcap, called HeliCap23, is manufactured at Tetra Pak’s Châteaubriant plant in Loire-Atlantique, France – a site that has been awarded the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) Advanced Products certification and boosted by a €100 million (US$114 million) investment to accelerate the transition to tethered caps production.
The HeliCap23 cap offers consumers ease of opening and features a clearly visible tamper evidence ring, providing reassurance that the product hasn’t been opened before.
The new caps using attributed recycled polymers are manufactured under the RSB chain of custody attribution method.
“This [method] means the plastics are made of a mix of recycled and non-recycled materials, with the corresponding mass of recycled materials tracked throughout the Tetra Pak supply chain,” says Tetra Pak.
Ensuring recycled polymer supply
Braghiroli explains besides complying with SDG 12, Tetra Pak has developed an even stricter criteria for its base materials purchase needed for the Tetra Pak cartons production.
“The criteria driving our management process for base material suppliers include setting reduction targets for CO2 emissions, promoting biodiversity and water stewardship, and ensuring no direct or indirect negative land use change.”
“Our supplier, as well as selected Tetra Pak production sites in Europe – our factories in Budaörs, Hungary and in Châteaubriant, France – are certified according to a third-party chain of custody attribution method. Tetra Pak carton packages manufactured in those production sites are therefore eligible to carry a third-party certification label, certifying that the final product utilizes attributed recycled polymers,” he notes.
Braghiroli says Tetra Pak, among other industry players, is dealing with three central challenges:
Restarting the global economy after the COVID-19 induced recession: “Re-starting after that kind of recession can be in some ways more challenging than operating through the crisis itself.”
A “perfect storm” of manufacturing and logistical disruptions, including the shortage of shipping containers and the winter storm in Texas in February 2021, which is still impacting the industry.
Increased demand for paperboard: This, combined with strong demand for secondary packaging triggered by the growth of e-retailing, has created extra pressure on our own paperboard suppliers.
“The good news is that we have been able to mitigate the shortages so far and deliver a consistent supply of packaging material to our customers,” says Braghiroli.
“Key enablers here are our global footprint, the strong support from our supplier base and cross-functional collaboration within Tetra Pak. Our business continuity plans have demonstrated to be solid, and we are learning more to further improve them.”
At the end of last year, Tetra Pak identified environmental health as a key dairy industry driver in COVID-19 age. More specifically, the company declared environmental sustainability and net-zero emission targets to be the current key change drivers in dairy packaging and processing.
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