Increasing the paper-based content of carton packages

Our carton packages are primarily paper-based, a renewable resource which we source responsibly. This helps beverage cartons feature a lower carbon footprint than other packaging solutions1.

In aseptic carton packages, aluminium foil layer provides vital protection from oxygen and light, keeping perishable food safe without need for refrigeration for months. We are constantly innovating to make this layer as thin as possible and working towards developing an aseptic package that uses an alternative material for its barrier layer while continuously securing food safety and enhancing food access.

By investing in research and development, we aim to create packages with a simplified material structure and increased renewable content, shifting away from virgin, fossil-based plastic and increasing the share of paper-based content in our carton packages. 

Carton packages featuring a paper-based barrier on shelves

In 2020, we performed a 15-month commercial technology validation of a polymer-based barrier replacing the aluminium foil layer. This helped to understand the value chain implications of the change. The journey continued in 2022 with the next level of development: commercial consumer testing of a paper-based barrier.

In 2023, together with Lactogal, we launched the Tetra Brik® Aseptic 200 Slim Leaf carton with a paper-based barrier, a first within food carton packages distributed under ambient conditions, and achieving a remarkable 90% renewable content. With around 80% paperboard, this package reduces CO2 emissions by an impressive 33% compared to traditional aseptic cartons2.

Catering to consumer preferences

Alongside the increase in renewability share, cartons with higher paper content are more appealing to paper mills, promising a potential shift towards a low-carbon circular economy for packaging.

A recent global study shows that 31% of consumers would be more motivated to sort for recycling if packages were made entirely from paperboard3. Increasing the paper content in our packaging solutions will also help cater to these consumers.

The journey continues

To keep the innovation running, we are collaborating with suppliers, customers and other stakeholders throughout the value chain. And we’re investing up to €100 million per year over the next five to 10 years to further enhance the environmental profile of food cartons, including the development of packages that are made with a simplified material structure and increased renewable content.

Tetra Pak and Lactogal cut carbon footprint of aseptic cartons for milk

See other solutions

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Discover our plant-based portfolio

Our portfolio of plant-based carton packages features responsibly sourced, renewable materials like paperboard and sugarcane polymers used for caps, protective layers and coatings – all from certified responsibly managed and controlled sources.

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Transform your dairy production

Our UHT 2.0 Heating Portfolio using OneStep technology in UHT Milk cuts down the number of processing steps in the dairy compared to a Tetra Pak conventional UHT milk production line and makes the production more flexible and energy efficient.

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Reduce energy, water and waste

Our Expert Services for Plant Optimisation can help reduce your overall environmental footprint via energy, water and waste savings.

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1Source: Carbon Trust™-certified Tetra Pak ‘Carton CO2 Calculator’ model version 9 (valid from 2023-01-01). Scope: cradle-to-grave measurement of a Tetra Brik® Aseptic 200 Slim Leaf carton with plant-based polymers in coating and paper-based barrier compared to a standard Tetra Brik® Aseptic 200 Slim Leaf package. Geography: EU Industry data.

2Ifeu. (2020). Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of Tetra Pak carton packages and alternative packaging system for beverages and liquid food on the European market. Source: Institut fur Energie – und Unweltforschung Heidelberg

3Tetra Pak Sustainable Packaging Consumer Research, 2023