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Recycling feeds a circular economy

An approach to recycling that keeps valuable materials in use 

Today 37% of global waste ends in landfills and 33% is openly dumped [1]. Despite widespread local and regional recycling initiatives supported by a focused political agenda, relatively little waste is actually recycled. To improve this situation, food packaging needs to be fully recyclable, and recycling systems need to be improved to support full collection and recycling to keep materials in use.

Today Tetra Pak® carton packages are collected and recycled across the world; where efficient waste management and recycling infrastructure is in place. In Europe, nearly half of all used beverage cartons are collected for recycling and transformed into a wide range of new products. But we aim for more.​

Improving recycling at scale​

We are an active member of global and regional industry initiatives aimed at jointly addressing the collection and recycling of carton packages. We're collaborating with players across the value chain and with more than 170 recyclers for beverage cartons around the world to strengthen the collection, sorting and recycling infrastructure of our carton packages. We also co-invest with recyclers to increase capacity to process materials, and we collaborate with technology providers and suppliers to improve recycling technologies and implement best practice.

To further improve recyclability, we are investing heavily in the research and development of cartons with a simplified structure. Our ambition includes reducing the amount of plastic, starting to remove aluminium by 2021 and increasing the paper-based content in our packages. We aim for fully recyclable carton packages – recycled in practice and at scale globally – made solely from renewable or recycled materials.​

Increasing the circularity of our packages

Our ambition is to help put recycled materials to good use, by integrating them into our packaging. By 2025, we will incorporate a minimum of 10% recycled plastic content on average across our beverage cartons sold in Europe[2]. And increasing our use of recycled content is one of our key focus areas across our business.

All the recycling improvements in the world will not make a difference without the help of consumers. That's why we also work with a range of stakeholders across the value chain to raise consumer awareness. Our vision is that all beverage carton packages will be collected for recycling, and zero beverage cartons become litter or are sent to landfill.

 

[1] Worldbank.org, What a Waste 2.0

[2] Tetra Pak, Sustainability Report 2020, p.12

[3] Worldbank.org, What a Waste 2.0

[4]​ World Economic Forum, The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics

[5] UN Environment, Our planet is drowning in plastic pollution

[6] Tetra Pak, Collaboration is Powerful

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10% recycled material by 2025

An important part of circularity and extending the life of materials is the ability to use recycled material in our packages, without compromising the safety or quality of the food they protect. That’s why, as signatories of the EMF New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, we aim to incorporate a minimum of 10% recycled plastic across our carton packages in Europe by 2025. To increase our impact, we’ve joined forces with the global waste management company Veolia to process the extracted non-fibre material of our cartons at dedicated facilities. This is expected to increase the overall value and recycling of used beverage carton packages.

Taking a holistic approach to carton package recycling with Veolia

The average beverage carton comprises around 70% paperboard, 25% plastic (polymer) and 5% aluminium foil. The recovered fibres from paperboard can be converted into high-quality paper pulp. The recovered polymer and aluminium (PolyAl) mix can be converted into raw materials for applications within the plastic industry. We work with companies around the world to improve recovery and use of PolyAl, resulting in valuable products ranging from roofing tiles to cable drum moulds (6).

To increase our impact, we’ve joined forces with the global waste management company Veolia to process the extracted non-fibre material of our cartons at dedicated facilities. This is expected to increase the overall value and recycling of used beverage carton packages.
Taking a holistic approach to carton package recycling with Veolia

Celebrating more than 10 years of Recycling Route in Brazil

In 2018, we celebrated ten years since the launch of our Recycling Route, an initiative to make it easier for consumers to find recycling collection points in cities across Brazil. Using geo-tagging from Google Maps, a website enables consumers to find more than 5,000 recycling collection points across the country, covering more than 60% of the population. Since its launch, more than 1.3 million visitors have used it. These kinds of digital solutions have the potential to drive better, more extensive recycling across the value chain.
Celebrating more than 10 years of Recycling Route in Brazil

Raising recycling awareness across the globe

In cities across India, we’ve rolled out an initiative to increase the recycling of used beverage cartons. The cartons are turned into classroom furniture for schools around the country. Across Japan, we’ve been working in communities to show how cartons can be recycled. In Greece, we’ve distributed recycling bins to 80 schools. And in South Africa, we’re working with the country’s largest paper recycler to raise public awareness of the recyclability of our carton packs. Together we’re supporting curbside collection points and working with community centres, churches, businesses, households and schools to improve recycling.
Raising recycling awareness across the globe

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