Tetra Pak introduces certified recycled plastic in its packaging
Tetra Pak announced last week the introduction of certified recycled plastic, becoming the first company in the food and beverage packaging industry to receive this advanced product certification from the organization on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB). Its cartons that integrate attributed recycled polymers are now available to food and beverage manufacturers.
These moves mark a key step in Tetra Pak’s approach to circularity that includes: minimizing dependence on fossil resources; the responsible sourcing of raw materials; design packaging to improve recycling and reduce waste; and of course, creating partnerships with industry to develop an effective collection and recycling infrastructure around the world.
Alejandro Cabal, Vice President of Packaging Solutions and Commercial Operations at Tetra Pak, said: “As a signatory to the Ellen MacArthur New Plastics Economy global commitment, we have committed to incorporating a minimum of 10% recycled plastic content on average in packaging of cardboard sold in Europe by 2025, subject to the technical and economic availability of recycled plastics suitable for food use. Having worked closely with INEOS and RSB in recent months, we are now able to offer packaging that integrates attributed recycled polymers, further enabling the sustainable transformation of the food industry. “
Using recycled material can help increase recycling rates and make recycling more economically viable. But sourcing and quality can be challenging, considering the very limited availability of food-grade recycled plastics.
With this in mind, Tetra Pak began a close collaboration with its supplier INEOS, to explore the use of recycled polymers in packaging and INEOS has been the one to provide the first lot of attributed recycled polyethylene (PE). The global manufacturer of petrochemicals, specialty chemicals and petroleum products is leveraging PLASTIC ENERGY’s advanced recycling process to convert waste plastic into high-quality polymers, replacing oil-based products with materials with identical specifications and the highest level of product purity as virgin plastic.
Cabal added: “RSB2 certifies that the attributed recycled polymers used in the caps and / or layers of the material that make up Tetra Pak packages are produced in a sustainable way. Being the first in our industry to receive the RSB Advanced Products certification represents another milestone in our journey towards the most sustainable food packaging in the world, a carton that is made entirely of renewable or recycled materials, is convenient and safe, allowing a food system, fully recyclable and carbon neutral. Qualifying and providing assurance of mass balance statements is critical to ensuring transparency and accountability within the system and therefore enhancing trust from an end-user perspective. ”
Following RSB’s chain of custody attribution method, plastics are made from a mix of recycled and non-recycled materials, with the corresponding mass of recycled materials traced throughout the Tetra Pak supply chain.
Initiatives like these are what is needed right now. In fact, recycling has become a solution to the packaging problem as part of a move towards circularity. But the world cannot depend on recycling alone, as fossil-based plastic production continues to grow, reaching around 368 million tonnes in 20193. Meanwhile, recycling regulations around the world offer a boost to ensure that producers buy recycled materials; This increases demand and therefore encourages expanded supply. NGOs are also strongly supporting this movement. The latest Global Engagement progress report, released by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in November 2020, indicates that despite ‘recycled content in packaging grew 22% year-on-year and the number of reduction targets more than doubled , it will take a substantial acceleration in the coming years to circulate everything we use, keeping it in the economy and out of the environment. ”
Cabal concluded: “There is a long way to go before recycled and plant-based polymers become mainstream3. We are working with partners to further explore sustainable polymers, while continuing to evaluate the use of alternative plant-based products and recycled fiber-based materials. Our long-term ambition is clear, that all our packaging uses renewable or recycled polymers, ending the extraction of fossil raw materials. Coordinated action and advocacy by multiple companies and other actors is required to support the transition to a low carbon circular economy ”.
Press release Tetra Pak