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Becoming the first company in the food and beverage packaging industry to be awarded the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) Advanced Products certification, Tetra Pak has announced the introduction of certified recycled polymers.
This move marks a key step in Tetra Pak’s approach to circularity which includes: minimising dependency on fossil-based resources; responsibly sourcing raw materials; designing packages for enhanced recycling and reduced litter; and building partnerships to develop effective collection and recycling infrastructure worldwide.
Alejandro Cabal, Vice President Packaging Solutions, Tetra Pak, said: “As signatories of the Ellen MacArthur New Plastics Economy Global Commitment we have pledged to incorporate a minimum of 10% recycled plastic content on average across carton packages sold in Europe by 2025, subject to suitable food-grade recycled plastics being technically and economically available. Having worked closely with INEOS and RSB in the past few months, we are now able to offer carton packages integrating attributed recycled polymers, further enabling the sustainability transformation of the food industry.”
Using recycled material can contribute to increased recycling rates and make recycling more economically viable. But reliable sourcing and quality can be a challenge, due to the limited availability of food-grade recycled plastics in the market at present.
With this in mind, Tetra Pak initiated a close supplier collaboration to explore utilising recycled polymers in carton packages and identified INEOS to provide the first batch of attributed recycled polyethylene (PE).
Cabal added: “RSB certifies that the attributed recycled polymers used in the caps, tops and/or coatings of Tetra Pak carton packages are produced sustainably. Being the first in our sector to be awarded the RSB Advanced Products certification represents yet another milestone in our journey towards the world’s most sustainable food package: a carton that is fully made from renewable or recycled materials, is convenient and safe – hence enabling a resilient food system – is fully recyclable and carbon-neutral.”
Following the RSB chain of custody attribution method, 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.
Cabal concluded: “There is a long way to go before plant-based and recycled polymers become mainstream. Our long-term ambition is clear, for all our packaging to use renewable or recycled polymers, ending the extraction of fossil feedstock. Coordinated action and advocacy by multiple companies and other actors is required to support the transition to a low carbon circular economy.”