At Tetra Pak we see recycling as a key enabler of a low carbon circular economy in the food and beverage industry. And while we have seen some heartening progress in the collection, sorting and recycling of used beverage cartons (UBCs), more needs to be done. Specifically, with regard to enhancing the value of the recycled materials from our packages so that they can be used into industrial products with high value and large volumes.
We are working with an increased number of recyclers and other recycling chain stakeholders to drive a viable and sustainable business solution. Our partnership with Furukawa Electric is a great example.
For the past three years we have acted as a key knowledge partner and contact facilitator, working closely with them to develop new technology and equipment that regenerates the double strength of polymer and aluminium (PolyAl) from UBCs.
For years the paper fibres recovered during recycling have been converted into high-quality paper pulp for use in both industrial and consumer products, however; recycling capacity and value for PolyAl is currently lacking. This means that our packaging is not considered fully recyclable.
What is great about the new technology from Furukawa is that polyAl can be used to make material comparable to glass-fiber-reinforced plastics but to a much lower cost. This enables more demanding applications and hence a higher value of the material. This is important because when you increase the value of recycled UBCs, it drives the value chain for beverage carton collection.
Tetra Pak spoke recently with Furukawa at the AMI Plastics Recycling Technology Conference in Dusseldorf to expand more on this game changing technology, and the next steps.