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. 

Beverage carton environmental performance

The environmental performance of beverage cartons is mainly driven by the raw materials used, and their disposal or further use at the end of the beverage carton lifecycle. One significant finding from LCAs is that increasing the content of renewable materials in beverage cartons reduces their climate impact.

Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE) commissioned a separate meta-study, which compared beverage cartons to PET, glass, and returnable glass. The results of this study reaffirmed that, by comparison, beverage cartons have a lower climate impact than these alternative packaging materials, indicating the low carbon footprint of paper-based carton packages.

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.

Product carbon footprint

As there is a particular interest in the climate performance of beverage cartons to us and within our value chain, we supplement our use of LCAs with a Product Carbon Footprint calculation model.

Our product CO2 model 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. The product CO2 model is used to calculate the carbon footprint of individual beverage cartons. Such footprint data can be accessed for selected packages in our ProductXplorer platform and is shared with our customers on request to inform their decision-making, environmental reporting and communication.

Lifecycle assessment (LCA) catalogue

Click below to expand product segments and download LCA studies.

Further reading

Tetra Pak carton packaging in blue background

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.

Tetra Pak Sustainability report FY23 front cover

Tetra Pak Sustainability Report

Our Sustainability Report provides a comprehensive picture of how we collaborate across the globe to contribute to the sustainable development of our industry.

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Sustainability performance data

See how Tetra Pak performed on key indicators for FY 2023, including sourcing, recycling, climate, energy, diversity and water, from our ESG performance.

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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.