Decarbonising for a sustainable global food sector

The way we source and dispose of food is pushing us beyond the Earth’s planetary boundaries – the limits within which humanity can continue to develop and thrive. 

The food sector needs a radical new approach to address this challenge and return to a ‘safe space’. To do this we must aim for net zero at every step of the food value chain. However, protecting the environment shouldn’t come at the expense of food safety and availability. They are closely intertwined as priorities and the simple fact is we need to tackle them together.

So we are excited to be attending the World Climate Summit at COP26 in Glasgow to help drive collaboration, collective action and innovation, three key pillars needed to meet the world’s sustainability and food challenges. We look forward to listening to, learning from and working with our peers in industry, science and government leaders to protect what’s good - food, people and planet.

What are we hoping to achieve at COP26?

The decarbonisation of the global food system is our ultimate goal, and the success of this relies on governments, industry and consumers working together. 

We believe a multi-stakeholder, multi-national dialogue is needed to achieve a radical new approach to global food. One of the legacies of COP26 should be an increased focus on decarbonising food systems, and this can only come through collaboration and catalysing the industry.

That is why we will be hosting a panel discussion at the World Climate Summit at COP26, with leading climate scientist Professor Johan Rockström to discuss how to change the way we feed the planet. From how we source and produce our food, to its transportation and the materials we use to package it, to achieve a global food transformation towards decarbonisation, healthier diets and sustainable food systems.

The food processing and packaging industry enables safe, nutritious and diversified diets, provides food access and availability and reduces food waste. But while we’re making food safe and available, we must be laser focused on reducing the impact this has on the planet. The opportunities to do that lie in four key areas:

  • Decarbonise the materials we use, focusing on renewable rather than fossil-fuel based.
  • Decarbonise production processes, switching to renewable energy and reducing the carbon impact of equipment.
  • Reduce food waste by lowering the carbon emissions from food loss while not compromising on food availability.
  • Improve recycling and ensure all food packaging is collected and doesn’t end up as litter.

Tetra Pak has also joined the WEF Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders that highlights steps to enable a #NetZero world. Read our open letter.


What is Tetra Pak doing to decarbonise its own operations?

Our mission of creating ‘a package that saves more than it costs’ is as true now as it was in the 1950’s when it was first said by our founding father, Ruben Rausing. We are already a low carbon company. Our net zero commitment started over ten years ago with our goal to cap carbon emissions at 2010 levels and increase use of renewable energy. We are now committed to reaching net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in our own operations by 2030, and achieving our ambition of net zero GHG emissions across the entire value chain by 2050. 

However, we are far from finished. Tetra Pak is on a journey to create the world’s most sustainable food package, made fully from renewable or recycled materials, fully recyclable and carbon neutral. Through strategic collaborations, investment in recycling infrastructure and new innovation in food processing, we are confident that together with our partners, we can drive positive change.


Transforming the Food Systems – the Role of Food Processing Technology and Packaging Solutions in the Net Zero Age

Monday, 8 November
10:00-11:00am GMT
Hilton Hotel Glasgow

Beginning with a keynote speech from world leading climate scientist Professor Johan Rockström, which will frame the importance of developing food systems that allow humanity to operate within the safe operating space of planetary boundaries, Tetra Pak will convene a panel of senior leaders from across the food processing and packaging sector in a session moderated by Dan Esty, Hillhouse Professor at Yale University.

The panel will seek to agree practical steps for how the sector can drive real progress towards a sustainable future and catalyse industry leadership to prioritise food systems decarbonisation.


The event will also be live streamed. You can tune in on the day here.

To register for physical attendance at WCS, please sign up here.

To RSVP for the event either in person or via livestream, please fill in this short form here.

a special purpose paper by Johan Rockström and Svetlana Milutinović from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

Remodelling the Global Food System for the Anthropocene

Leading climate scientist and our keynote speaker Johan Rockström has co-authored a special purpose paper for Tetra Pak’s panel at the COP26 World Climate Summit on Monday 8th November. The paper offers a science-based approach to make the argument that the way we source and secure food is pushing us beyond the Earth’s planetary boundaries – the limits within which humanity can continue to develop and thrive. From climate change to biodiversity loss and pollution, we cannot continue to push these boundaries without putting societies at risk. As a result, a radical approach is required to create more sustainable food systems.


Annette Stube

Annette Stube

Head of Sustainability, Stora Enso

Ashley Allen

Ashley Allen

Chief Sustainability Officer, Oatly

Dan Esty

Professor Dan Esty

Hillhouse Professor at Yale University

Johan Rockström

Professor Johan Rockström

Director, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

Lars Holmquist

Lars Holmquist

Executive Vice President, Sustainability & Communications, Tetra Pak

Sandrine Dixson-Declève

Sandrine Dixson-Declève

Co-Chair, Club of Rome