Hotter summers, more severe hurricanes, droughts and wildfires – the consequences of global warming keep stacking up, due to increasing levels of carbon in the atmosphere. And this is an issue that affects the everyday decisions of increasing numbers of consumers.
Those who want to reduce their carbon footprint can take steps like eating less red meat and wasting less food.
But research has found there are also large differences between the carbon dioxide emissions created over the lifetime of different kinds of food packaging.
So, choosing not only the right food, but also the right package, can make a difference.
A recent study conducted by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (ifeu) in Germany compared the environmental performance of Tetra Recart and other food packaging. It indicates that Tetra Recart has a much lower climate impact than steel cans and glass jars over its lifetime – not least in terms of energy consumption and the resulting carbon footprint.
From extracting the raw material through manufacturing, distribution and waste management, Tetra Recart’s carbon emissions were found to be five times lower than those of steel cans and glass jars.
This is largely because energy consumption is much higher for other materials than it is for Tetra Recart carton packages. Over the entire process, Tetra Recart was shown to use two-thirds less energy than steel cans and glass jars.
To begin with, just producing the glass for a jar, or extracting the raw material for a can, is far more energy intensive than sourcing wood fibre for paperboard, says Mario Abreu, Vice President for Sustainability at Tetra Pak.
Paperboard also requires less energy to recycle than other materials. “The ifeu study signals that just because a glass jar or steel can is recyclable, that doesn’t necessarily make it better for the environment,” Abreu says.
“You might even say tin and glass have a more detrimental effect on the environment since, unlike wood, they can’t be replenished. Using paperboard to package food is a far more environmentally sound use of the Earth’s resources, when it is responsibly sourced, like our FSC™ certified paperboard.”
With the world’s population set to reach 8.4 billion people by 2030 and growing concern that the Earth’s resources are being depleted at an unsustainable rate, the pressure is on to find ways to make more out of less.
“Most of us would agree that global warming is the number-one environmental issue today. We should reduce our carbon emissions everywhere we can. An easy way to do this is by making the right packaging choice when we buy our food. And this study indicates that Tetra Recart is the most favourable environmental choice,” Abreu says.
“Why would you pick a can or glass jar over a carton when you can have the same delicious food at a fraction of the environmental cost?”
Comparative Life Cycle Assessment performed by ifeu, Germany, according to ISO 14040/44. Peer reviewed by a 3rd party critical review panel. Environmental comparison in Italy, Germany and EU 28+2; European average, 2017. Recycling rates: Tetra Recart 44%, Glass jar 73%, Steel can 76%. Allocation factor 50%. Category Canned tomatoes.
Download the key findings of the ifeu study here
The FSC licence code for Tetra Pak is FSC™ C014047.