At Tetra Pak®, our sustainability strategy is founded on our commitment to a low-carbon circular economy. In a circular economy, manufacturers design out waste and re-use and recycle materials. Circularity is an essential part of our approach to sustainability. Unfortunately, many waste management systems across the world are far from optimal. This is one reason why only 13.5% of global waste is recycled. Re-use and recycling of materials depends on effective collection and sorting systems, which are lacking in some regions.
Many materials cannot be infinitely recycled. Plastic, among other materials, can only be recycled a few times before it's no longer usable. Fossil based plastics that are not successfully recycled may end in a landfill, which represents a loss of resources. Or they may be incinerated, releasing carbon to the atmosphere and contributing to climate change. Material that ends up in natural systems, including the world's oceans, adds to plastic pollution.
Our commitment to a low-carbon circular economy drives us to minimise the impact of our packages' impact on nature. A traditional Tetra Pak® carton package is made from an average of 70% paperboard, 25% plastic and 5% aluminium to protect the product inside. These carton packages are already recyclable, but to reduce our impact on nature and increase recycling, we are investing heavily in the research and development of carton packages that are made with a simplified material structure and increased paper-based content.
In 2019, we were the first company to launch paper straws on beverage cartons in Europe. This was an important step in our vision to deliver carton packages made entirely from plant-based materials. Already in 2014, we were the first in our industry to introduce a package made entirely from plant-based renewable materials. Manufactured only with paperboard and sugarcane based plastic, the Tetra Rex® Plant-based package is fully renewable, and today, we've delivered more than 1 billion of such packages to customers around the world.
Moving from fossil-based to plant-based materials can reduce carbon emissions. That's because forests and crops absorb CO2 from the atmosphere as they grow. Renewable materials cycle atmospheric carbon – leaving fossil carbon in the ground. By increasing the paper-based content and share of renewable materials, not only do we minimise end-of-life impact but we also reduce the impact on nature. Plant-based materials - unlike fossil-based ones - keep fossil carbon in the ground.
 Worldbank.org, What a Waste: An Updated Look into the Future of Solid Waste Management