We are working towards a future where all our polymers will be made from plant-based or recycled materials without compromising quality and safety.
Polymers used in food and beverage packaging can be derived from plant-based materials like sugar cane, which are renewable if responsibly sourced. When this is the case, it can reduce the packaging’s impact on climate change compared to that of traditional packaging materials, such as plastics derived from fossil fuels1.
In 2015, we were the first in our industry to introduce a package made entirely from plant-based renewable materials (paperboard and plant-based polymers): Tetra Rex® Plant-based. We have continued this development and sold 24% more packages (8.8 billion) and 12% more caps (11.9 billion) made with plant-based plastic in 2022, compared to 2021.2 The amount of plant-based plastic used in 2022 equals to 131 kilo tonnes of CO2 saved compared to fossil-based plastic.3
Today, all our plant-based polymers are Bonsucro-certified, and by adopting plant-based polymers in our food and beverage packaging, we aim to limit the depletion of finite resources and mitigate climate change. Our Tetra Pak Certificate Code is PBN-BSC-ChoC-012970. A copy of the certificate can be downloaded here.
Our customers already using plant-based packaging and caps may have the option of certifying their packages as carbon neutral by the Carbon Trust™. The principle behind carbon neutral certification is “first reduce then offset”. This means that Tetra Pak has only included packaging with plant-based polymers for certification. Then, we procure carbon credits to compensate for the package’s residual emissions. These credits fund Gold Standard-certified climate projects worldwide.
The Carbon Trust™ has certified the carbon footprint of our plant-based packaging and caps and, upon considering our carbon management plan, has certified these packaging solutions as carbon neutral, in compliance with the internationally recognised PAS2060 standard. Our qualifying explanatory statement (QES) documents show how we measure, reduce, and offset the emissions of the Carbon Trust-certified packages; it also includes the certification letter and offset documentation. The QES for our carbon-neutral-certified packaging solutions can be viewed here.
To help meet our targets for greater use of recycled materials, we have started using certified recycled polymers4 from the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) and the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC) in our packaging.
Since 2020, two of our production sites in Europe have been certified by RSB to produce packaging material and additional materials with certified recycled polymers. In accordance with certification requirements, these plastics are made from a mix of recycled and non-recycled materials, with the corresponding mass of recycled materials tracked throughout the Tetra Pak supply chain.
Additionally, our packaging material factory and additional materials factory in Mexico were certified by the ISCC PLUS system. In 2022, we started the ISCC PLUS certification process for a number of our European production sites.
The world’s first cap made from certified recycled polymers4
In collaboration with Elvir, a subsidiary of Savencia Fromage & Dairy, Tetra Pak has become the first carton packaging player in the food and beverage industry to launch a cap using certified recycled polymers.
In addition to the requirements for responsible sourcing that apply to all our purchasing categories, we have even stricter rules for suppliers of the 3.1 million tonnes of base materials that we source for our packaging every year, including the sourcing of plant-based and certified recycled polymers, these are:
1By “traditional packaging material” we compare to some other packaging alternatives for beverages and liquid food. This is based on Lifecycle Assessment (LCA). Read more about LCAs at https://www.tetrapak.com/sustainability/measuring-and-reporting/life-cycle-assessment
2Volumes exclude Blend in BIO (BiB) sold in Brazil. BiB is a mix of 75% LDPE and 25% plant-based LDPE.
3Based on climate accounting internal calculations (volume x emission factor) considering 72.7 kilo tonnes of plant-based plastic purchased in 2022. To calculate the figure for emissions avoided, we use the emissions factor for plant-based polymers from a publicly available lifecycle assessment produced by Braskem. Source: https://www.braskem.com.br/acv-studies
4A ‘certified recycled polymer’ is a plastic whose cost includes a premium that finances the collection, sorting, cleaning and processing of plastic waste that cannot be recycled via conventional mechanical means. The third-party certification verifies that the required amount of plastic waste has been recycled into raw material for making new plastics.
5The concept of traceability refers to the tracking of a product throughout its production, processing and distribution phases, from the procurement of the raw materials for its manufacture until it reaches the end consumer.