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Tetra Pak integrates certified recycled polymers to its circular packaging portfolio

April 22, 2023
Energy & Chemical Value Chain

Tetra Pak has made advancements in integrating recycled content into its portfolio, expanding its packaging solutions to offer certified recycled polymers to cover new formats, product categories and geographies to meet upcoming EU regulations.

According to Tetra Pak, fossil-based plastic production is set to increase by 10.8% between 2021 and 2025. At the same time, the company finds that 86% of shoppers are concerned about plastic usage and its impact on the environment and believe that using recycled plastic is one of the best ways to tackle this challenge.

Consumers have started to act on these concerns, increasingly choosing to buy products or packages with recycled material in the last year.

“The high share of renewable materials in Tetra Pak carton packages helps them feature a lower carbon footprint than many other packaging options. But we want to go further, continuously reducing reliance on virgin, fossil-based sources and keeping materials in circulation, together with our customers,” says Ola Elmqvist, executive vice president of packaging solutions at Tetra Pak,

Legislation and trends
TetraPak says it is working toward a circular portfolio turning waste into new resources, and reducing the industry’s dependence on virgin, fossil-based materials. The company also says its methods align with the recently released European Commission’s Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation revisions.

The packaging industry is looking for ways to support the EU Green Deal’s climate, circularity and resilient food systems goals, and Tetra Pak is using its cartons as a solution. As a means of compliance, beverage cartons with certified recycled polymers are now on European supermarket shelves.

Innova Market Insights labeled “plastics circularization” as a top packaging trend for 2023, reporting that while plastic reduction initiatives are gathering pace and renewable alternatives are rising, plastic’s inherent qualities are lightweight, versatile, and hygienic material means that production and consumption continue to increase.

The market researcher stated the primary focus for governments and the industry should be on delivering recycle-by-design packaging and recycling systems that can help reestablish plastic within a circular economy.

Tetra Pak creations
Tetra Pak partnered with Emmi, the Swiss dairy company, to introduce the “world’s first” carton using certified recycled polymers in the packaging material. It’s good day Milk Drink, packaged in
Top 1000 Base carton packages, has been on the shelf since late 2022. Emmi has committed to using at least 30% recycled materials in all its packaging by 2027.

In February 2023, dairy company Lactalis Group, revamped its organic liquid cream in Tetra Brik Aseptic cartons under its Bridélice and Président brands with certified recycled polymers in the packaging material – a first in France.

The company’s partnership with Elvir, a Savencia Fromage & Dairy subsidiary, marked an “industry first.” For Elvir’s Elle & Vire brand, the company introduced a cap for beverage cartons using certified recycled polymers, in 2022.

Push toward a circular economy
Elmqvist says that its actions signify its response to stakeholder expectations, from F&B manufacturers to consumers and policymakers.

“We also see this contributing well to the ambitions of the European Commission’s Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulations proposal as well as the intent of the whole industry to accelerate sustainable innovations toward increased access to safe nutrition.”

Tetra Pak recently announced the launch of what it says is “ground-breaking” research to advance fiber-based packaging for F&B applications in collaboration with MAX IV – the most modern synchrotron radiation (the electromagnetic radiation emitted when charged particles travel in curved paths) laboratory in the world.

The research aims to uncover fresh insights into the nanostructure of fiber materials. The first application is to optimize the composition of materials used for paper straws, which are increasingly used as single-use plastics that come under bans worldwide.

Edited by Sabine Waldeck


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