Taking a systematic approach to the efficient use of resources along our value chain is an integral part of our business strategy and activities. We have set ambitious targets that reflect our approach, as well as engage with different scientific and societal organisations such as WRI, WBCSD, CDP, and Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC™).
Water is an important issue for our business. We are examining global water stress situations to establish a water management approach across our value chain – from raw materials production right through to consumer use. This work is strongly linked to SDG 6, “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”.
Starting with our own operations, Tetra Pak uses a modest amount of water at our own sites. Nevertheless, it is important we follow best practice and are therefore always looking opportunities to save this precious resource, especially where we work in drought regions.
However, water use becomes even more important in relation to our customers, and the equipment we develop and sell to them. We are focusing our efforts on helping our customers understand, monitor and reduce their water use. Food and drink producers are often water intensive, and there is evidence that water will soon become a limiting factor for some of our dairy and beverage customers.
Our Expert Services helps customers measure and reduce their overall water use, while products such as the Water Filtering Station can help food and drink manufacturers cut the total amount of water they use by as much as 95 percent.
Similarly, upstream in our value chain, we also address water issues in our supply chain, particularly for paperboard. We evaluate our suppliers every year, and stringently monitor water pollution in line with legislation.
The chemicals we use in our operations are subject to approval before introduction and their use is controlled and managed by environmental and safety staff at our sites. All our sites, including converting and other production sites in Europe, also have obligations under EU REACH regulations covering the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals. Similar chemicals legislation is emerging in many other geographies and we are working continuously to ensure that our business, and the materials we use, are compliant. Colleagues responsible for chemicals at all sites are given training to understand how the REACH regulations apply to their activities.
In 2017, we started to draft a new procedure for Tetra Pak’s air emissions, with a clear focus on Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs. These are a kind of chemical found commonly in paints, varnishes and cleaning products. They can easily become vapours or gases and are linked to local air pollution and ill health, particularly when used inside. Following three rounds of review with various stakeholders, our new procedure is due for imminent release.
The amount of VOC emissions has different legal limits around the world. The global limit outlined in our strategy significantly exceeds current legislation in most geographies (and at least meets it in all others). This is a timely intervention, as awareness and legislative focus on this topic increases globally.
Nowhere is this truer than in China, where the government is taking action to deal with the air pollution so endemic in their cities. That is why our programme of investment in air emissions treatment factory equipment starts with our three factories in China. As we roll out our new procedure and this investment programme, we are confident it will contribute to the sustainability of our production and protection of the health of the communities where our factories are situated.
Using the latest technology, we can recycle close to 100 percent of material waste of our operations; the remainder being disposed of responsibly and in line with current regulations.
Any hazardous waste we produce is handled in line with local law and best practice. We apply the precautionary principle throughout our operations; so where a potential risk is identified we will seek to eliminate or reduce that risk by choosing a better alternative or implementing risk reduction measures.
We use external certification in the form of the international environmental management standard ISO 14001 to ensure that environmental issues and impacts are managed in a systematic way.