Who is Tetra Pak?
Designed to make a difference
Tetra Pak was founded by Ruben Rausing in 1951. He had a fantastic idea. He wanted to make milk safe and available across post-war Europe and beyond, even where the distribution infrastructure and factories were badly damaged. He famously said that a Tetra Pak® package should save more than it costs, meaning in social as well as economic terms. Today, we apply this way of thinking to the environment too.
Sharing our knowledge
As a successful, international food processing and packaging company, Tetra Pak is in a privileged position. Hand in hand with this privilege goes the responsibility of sharing and helping to implement successful environmental practices wherever they can have a positive impact.
What does Tetra Pak make?
We now make over 150 billion cartons a year in over 170 countries, which means the average person will use 25 of our cartons every year. Chances are, of course, they don't even notice us. And that's just the way we like it. It means we're doing a good job, going unnoticed 400 million times a day in people’s homes and on their breakfast tables the world over, from Los Angeles to London to Lagos.
Why use cartons?
Cartons are the better environmental packaging choice. Good packaging has to protect, preserve, handle, transport and present its contents. It must withstand heat, light and cold and be able to be transported and unloaded without breaking. And, it must also take the environment into consideration throughout its life. Good packaging also makes a major contribution to the environment by preventing food from being wasted. Environmental studies around the world repeatedly show that the beverage carton is a low-carbon choice.
Good packaging protects food efficiently with minimal environmental impact. Recycling of used cartons is another efficient way of reducing environmental impact. The fibers are strong and very useful as they can be recycled many times for different paper products. And the other materials in the carton are recycled into a wide variety of products — from roofing sheets, to pellets that are used for injection molding for new plastic products.
What kinds of foods are packaged in Tetra Pak® cartons?
- Liquid dairy products
- Dairy alternatives
- Juices and nectars
- Still drink
- Wine and spirits
- Food like packaged tomatoes and beans
- Pet Food
What does Tetra Pak do to encourage recycling?
We make it as easy as possible to recycle our package. Right from the get-go, we design our packages with recycling in mind. In 2011, 36 billion Tetra Pak® packages were recycled. That means that rates have risen by 75% in six years. We’re shooting for 100%.
We recycle our own manufacturing wastes. Our local managers of Tetra Pak operations are evaluated, in part, according to their efforts to increase recycling.
We also work in cooperation with beverage companies, public authorities, environmental organizations, industry groups and community associations to ensure our packages are recovered effectively.
But it's not just our own cartons we worry about. We want to help create the kind of infrastructure that can support the culture of recycling all food cartons around the world. That’s why we support beverage companies' initiatives to recycle their own manufacturing waste.
Finally, we work with scientific institutions and businesses to develop new recycling technologies. Our engineers go to paper mills worldwide, to help run tests and demonstrate the value of recycling cartons.
What’s in Tetra Pak® cartons?
The main material in all our packages is paperboard. We use just enough to make the package stable, without adding unnecessary weight. Paperboard is a renewable raw material, made from wood. Thin layers of polyethylene — a commonly used plastic — are added to seal in the liquid and protect the product from external moisture. And, our packages that are designed to store food without refrigeration contain a thin layer of aluminium foil. This protects the product from oxygen, other flavours and light.
What happens to used cartons?
If you live in an area where household rubbish is separated for recycling, your used cartons will be transported to a recycling plant. There, the most common way to recycle is that they will be soaked in water to separate the paperboard from the plastic and aluminium layers. The paper content can then be turned into new products like cardboard boxes, toilet paper, tissue and notebooks. The plastic and aluminium are recovered to make things like roof tiles or plastic pots. What’s more, the aluminium can be used for other purposes such as making car engines.
What can I do to help?
Believe that what you do, even the smallest steps, make a difference!
One small step you can take is to choose packages with FSC™ labels or those you know use renewable sources.
Another small step is that you can check if there is a local recycling facility nearby. If there is, fold your cartons and leave for recycling, it does make a difference. If you do not have a recycling facility nearby get your friends together and write a request to your local authority to get one!
Get involved in an organisation or another environmental activity!
Ask questions — both online and in your store about how food is made, packaged, ingredients, etc. — as consumer you are part of setting the agenda for change.