Understanding the environmental impact of our packages

Life cycle assessments (LCAs) are scientific studies that analyse a package’s environmental performance associated with all the stages of its life, from the extraction of raw materials to processing, manufacturing, distribution and end-of-life treatment and emissions.

As they provide this holistic view of the packaging value chain, we use LCAs to understand, improve and communicate the environmental performance of our packages, as well as facilitate comparisons within our product portfolio and extend beyond. This interconnected approach empowers us to make informed decisions and drive continuous improvements in the environmental performance of our packages.

Tetra Pak has commissioned and published LCA1 studies since the 1980s. All studies collected on this page are carried out by independent scientific institutes and are critically reviewed, in line with ISO 14040 and 14044. 

LCA examples


Several LCAs have been made, investigating the environmental impact of beverage food and packaging systems. In these published examples, LCAs were undertaken by independent scientific institutes, using the internationally-accepted standard method (the ISO 14040 series of standards). All studies were peer-reviewed.


Comparative studies of beverage cartons

LCAs are designed to compare the environmental performance of different package alternatives for the same task. Additionally, many individual attributes of various packages show specific results in country-related LCAs. A key finding of such comparative studies is that beverage cartons in multiple regions and food and beverage segments exhibit lower climate impacts than alternative packaging options. For instance, a European meta-study synthesised the results of 16 country-level studies. In the dairy, juice, nectar, and still drink (JNSD) packaging segments, beverage cartons consistently showcased lower climate impacts than all the analysed alternatives.

Calculating the carbon footprint of a carton

The carbon footprint of a product is the sum of all greenhouse gases emitted during its life cycle. This includes the sourcing of raw materials used, the production, distribution, consumption, transportation as well as the end-of-life treatment of the product.

We produce many different types of packages that are filled and distributed in various locations around the world. The end-of-life treatment also varies from case to case depending on local recycling conditions as well as the choices made by the end consumer. To calculate the exact footprint of each of these combinations would be a very lengthy task.​

Late 2019, we commissioned a study on the environmental performance of cartons (entire life cycle) against other types of packaging, across various sizes and categories – fresh milk, long-life milk, juice, water and food. In summary, the results of this study indicate that cartons have the lowest carbon footprint of all beverage and food packaging systems available on the Australian and New Zealand markets at present.

Carton CO2 calculator​


Our online Carton CO2 calculator​ has been certified by the Carbon Trust as capable of generating carbon footprints in compliance with PAS 2050: 2011, ISO 14044:2006 and ISO 14067:2018.


Lifecycle assessment (LCA) catalogue

Click below to expand product segments and download LCA studies.

Further reading

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Carton packages for food & beverages

Protect nutritional value, extend shelf life and boost convenience with sustainable Tetra Pak carton packages for milk, juices and other food & beverages.

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Sustainability reports

The Tetra Pak sustainability report FY 2022, prepared in line with GRI standards, presents our ambitions and actions to lead the sustainability transformation.

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Sustainability performance data

See how Tetra Pak performed on key indicators for FY 2022, including sourcing, recycling, climate, energy, diversity and water, from our sustainability report.

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​Indicative carbon footprint of an aseptic beverage carton

​​To illustrate the climate impact across the life cycle of an aseptic beverage carton, we here present the life cycle carbon footprint for a typical 1 litre Tetra Brik Aseptic with cap (HeliCap23).​

The results show the cradle-to-grave carbon footprint of the carton, including raw material production, transport of raw materials, converting, transport of packaging materials to filler, filling and distribution, and end-of-life.

The calculations are based on industry average data and for European conditions. For production of liquid packaging board average data as presented by The Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment is used, for plastics data as presented by Plastics Europe is used and for aluminium foil data as presented by European Aluminium Association is used. For the converting operations global average data from Tetra Pak's GHG reporting is used representing the performance in 2016. The impact of the transport of raw materials to the converting factory is included in the converting result and based on European average data. For the transport of packaging materials to the filler, average modes and distances as presented by ACE are applied. Forming and filling of the package are based on typical performance data and global average data for electricity. The end-of-life settings are based on average European waste management conditions based on statistics from 2016, with 47% recycling and 29% energy recovery. Landfill has been modelled for the remaining part. The 'cut-off' method has been used when modelling end-of-life: no environmental burdens nor credits have been included in the results for cartons going to recycling or incineration with energy recovery.

The 'biogenic carbon uptake in the material', as presented separately in the results, is an estimate of the amount of carbon that is stored in the carton when leaving the Tetra Pak converting factory gate. Growing plants capture and store carbon from the atmosphere. When the wood fibre is processed into paperboard the carbon continues to be stored in the carton. 'Biogenic carbon release' includes the amount of carbon that is released at end-of-life, if not recycled or energy recovered (in these cases the cut-off method has been applied as described above). To get a net result, including both fossil and biogenic CO2, the carbon footprint impact and the biogenic carbon uptake and biogenic carbon release should be summed.

The calculated results are not exact; they are indicative and based on several simplifications. To get the exact CO2e footprint of a package you need to know its specific material composition, in which converting factory it was produced and whether raw materials were brought to Tetra Pak by train or truck. We have used the most common material specification as the basis for the calculation of the results.

Package specifications and weights vary locally and with product protection requirements. CO2e footprint data will necessarily change over time as methodologies and data are refined.

The results should not be used to support comparative claims made to the public. Any such use would fall outside of the requirements of the relevant ISO standards.

The results are sourced from Tetra Pak's internal tool (CO2e Product Model version 5, 2018). The carbon footprint of this product has been certified by the Carbon Trust. ​

Carbon footprint graph

LCA of Beverage and Food Packaging in Australia and New Zealand

View the full results of the Life Cycle Analysis of cartons versus other available packaging systems in Australia and New Zealand.

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1An LCA is unique to the market(s) for which it was commissioned and the conditions under which it was conducted. This means that the results are not universally applicable and may not be extrapolated beyond the original study scope.