Recycling

Our paper-based beverage carton packages are recyclable where collection, sorting and recycling infrastructure is in place. Recycling is an important part of circularity and for it to be effective, food packages need to be recyclable by design and with local infrastructure in place.

Carton packages are collected via kerbside collection in Ireland, though collection will vary depending on your designated waste management provider.

Last year we invested, alongside industry partners, in the installation of state-of-the-art robotic sorting technology at Panda’s Materials Recovery Facility in Dublin. Automated sorters are able to separate cartons from other materials. 

Carton composition

The average Tetra Pak beverage carton is made of 70% paperboard; a renewable material from FSC® certified forests1 and other controlled sources. The rest of the carton package is composed of plastic (25% on average) and aluminium (5% on average). However, plant-based plastics derived from sugarcane can be used instead of virgin fossil sourced materials.

Tetra Pak uses sugarcane-based polymers in several carton formats including Tetra Rex®. These sugarcane-based polymers used in our cartons are Bonsucro certified. They are also traceable to their sugarcane origins thanks to the relationship with the polymer supplier.

We build carton packages with “multiple lives” in mind, helping to progress towards a circular economy. This is a system based on the reuse and regeneration of materials and products.

Tetra Pak is on a journey towards developing the world’s most sustainable food package, made from renewable and responsibly sourced materials. This ambition means we are continuously exploring innovations to increase the renewable content in our packaging.

For example, in 2022, we started to test a new fibre-based barrier to replace the aluminium layer in aseptic cartons
 

1The FSC license code for Tetra Pak is FSC®C014047. 

Forest

The climate impact of our carton packaging

Renewable resources can be replenished over time and enable a move away from fossil fuel-based materials, with a lower carbon footprint and reduced carbon impact.


In the dairy chilled category, a third-party peer reviewed Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) shows that 1.75 litre and 2 litre Tetra Rex® Plant-based carton packages have a lower climate impact than 2 litre and 3 litre HDPE bottles2.

 

2Figures compare Tetra Rex® Plant-based 1.75L and 2L cartons, which have 15 and 11 CO2 equivalents respectively, compared to a HDPE  2L bottle, with 57 CO2 equivalents, and a HDPE 3L bottle with 60 CO2​ equivalents, as per LCA figures.

Source: ifeu Ireland 2022 Life Cycle Assessment of Tetra Rex® carton packages for chilled dairy in the Irish market.

 

What is a Life Cycle Assessment?

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 LCA3 studies since the 1980s.

All studies are carried out by independent scientific institutes and are critically reviewed, in line with ISO 14040 and 14044. 
 

3An 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.

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