Home » Sustainable Packaging » How the packaging industry can drive sustainability

Erik Lindroth

Sustainability Director, Tetra Pak Europe & Central Asia

In June 2020, the Arctic Circle hit its highest temperature on record1, a chilling reminder of the consequences of failure to act on climate change.

The effects of global warming are becoming harder to ignore, with rising sea levels, biodiversity loss and extreme weather increasingly becoming a reality for our planet.

Such warning signs indicate that traditional business models are unsustainable. Thankfully, in recent years, this has become more widely accepted.

Sustainability is now a truly mainstream issue and we are seeing rising numbers of governments and corporations across the globe commit to circular models and net zero GHG emission targets, the UK Government having committed to achieving the latter by 2050.

Industry changes to address global warming

At Tetra Pak, a food processing and packaging solutions provider, we have adapted our innovation plans and organisation to a low-carbon, circular economy; leading to tangible results.

In 2019, 51 billion of our cartons were recycled, with more than 170 plants worldwide recycling Tetra Pak packages.

Currently, 69% of our operations run on renewable energy and last year we were the first carton packaging company to launch paper straws in Europe.

69% of our operations run on renewable energy.

A commitment to net zero emissions by 2030

Nevertheless, we need to go much further, which is why we recently announced that we have joined the European Alliance for a Green Recovery and have committed to reach net zero emissions in our operations by 2030.

While this is undoubtedly ambitious, we need to play our part in reversing the ecological damage our planet has suffered and are determined to achieve this goal.

However, we are under no illusions that we can single-handedly drive profound change, and it is for this reason that we have also set the ambition to achieve net zero GHG emissions for our entire value chain by 2050.

Sustainable commitments are needed across the entire packaging sector

While we all must individually play our part, real change must be driven across the entire sector. Taking the issue seriously requires that we, as producers, account for the full lifecycle of a product.

This starts at the sourcing of raw materials, enforcing energy efficient operations, processes and logistics, through to actively engaging in collection and recycling.

It is by partnering with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders across the entire value chain that we can significantly reduce our carbon footprint.

We became the first packaging company to offer a package that carries a carbon neutral label in line with this standard.

Using more plant-based and raw materials in packaging

Tetra Pak’s individual customer partnerships allow us to move away from a fossil dependency, increase the use of plant-based raw materials and scale up collection and recycling collaboration.

Of equal importance is our participation in global industry alliances, to increase recycling through concrete market activities.

For example, Tetra Pak recently worked with the Carbon Trust, to become the first packaging company to offer a package that carries a carbon neutral label in line with the internationally-recognised PAS 2060 standard.

Tetra Pak also partner with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF)’s New Plastics Economy initiative and the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment, as well as local alliances.

Coming together for the environment

The COVID-19 crisis has magnified the fragility of our societies. If there is a silver lining, we hope that it is a renewed global effort to protect what is precious, to build more resilient societies, systems and products.

Corporations can no longer see themselves as operating in isolation. The collective transition to a low carbon circular economy is vital for our future and will only be accomplished by organisations coming together to align on environmental goals and expert insights around sustainable practices.


Next article