Above all, our packaging exists to protect food, making it safe and available everywhere. The circular economy is a regenerative model that reduces waste and keeps materials in use for longer. As such, it is close to Tetra Pak's heart. Our business is designed to minimise waste and optimise use of resources, and we have always acted to reduce the lifecycle impact of our packaging, processing and service solutions. But we are part of a bigger ecosystem, and that's why between 2012 and 2017, we invested EUR 17 million in recycling infrastructure and built a network of partnerships worldwide. In 2016, we joined the Circular Economy 100
(CE100) and in January 2018 we pledged our commitment to the EU Plastics Strategy.
In 2018 we tripled our investment in Research and Development for a portfolio of solutions that meets our circularity goals. We also created 45 new roles on 5 continents that focus exclusively on the circular economy and, in November last year, announced a major new partnership with Veolia, which we plan to increase significantly in 2019. This will enable all components of used beverage cartons collected within the European Union to be recycled by 2025.
Finally, we are excited to share our new circular economy goals when we launch our 2030 strategy later this year.
Our ambition is to deliver a package that contributes to a low carbon circular economy, that is, a package made entirely from renewable and/or recycled materials that is fully recyclable, without ever compromising on food safety requirements.
Looking ahead, the market for recycled plastic (as opposed to virgin plastic) must continue to grow. To help this market increase, we will continue to actively seek and support the approved food-safe plastic. In the meantime, we will continue to reduce our impact by bringing greater recyclability and renewability into our product portfolio, combating the plastic litter problem through awareness-raising and the development of paper straws and tethered caps, and accelerating partnerships with relevant players further down the value chain (like Veolia) to help increase recycling.
The circular economy requires collaboration at every stage of a product's lifecycle – from sourcing and product design, to consumer awareness, collection and sorting, to recycling and market. Although we have built strong foundations and innovative partnerships along this value chain, transformational change requires a step up from everyone. The growing trend against plastic pollution and the accompanying societal and legislative pressure presents the conditions required to help drive rapid, collaborative progress towards a more circular economy for plastics.
There are several key ways our company already contributes to a circular economy:
• Using renewables: Renewable resources are natural materials that grow back, such as wood and sugar cane. Using these and managing them responsibly differentiates us in the market and protects our planet. Today, the average renewable content of our carton packaging material is around 75 percent. Long-term, we want to make all our packaging from 100 percent renewable materials.
In collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation CE100 and three of its member companies, we published a joint communication on the role and contribution of
renewable materials for a low-carbon and circular future.
• Responsible sourcing of materials: Responsible procurement is an important step in the shift to circularity; by improving the input, we can help make sure the circular economy is truly sustainable. All our paperboard is sourced from Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC™) certified forests and other controlled sources. We use a tiny amount of aluminium in our packaging as an essential protective barrier. We are continually innovating to reduce how much we use, while investigating alternatives. As part of the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI), we seek to address the key social and environmental issues associated with this material.
• Increasing recycling: Recycling helps keep valuable materials in the economy, and recycled materials are increasingly in demand for different applications. All Tetra Pak carton packages are recyclable, and over 46 billion were recycled in 2017 alone. We work to improve the recycling value chain wherever our cartons have a presence. As part of EU plastics pledge, we commit to working with industry partners to ensure that by 2030, recycling solutions are in place for all components of beverage cartons across Europe.
• Resource efficient products and processes: We need to do more with less to grow within our planetary boundaries. By making our products and processes more efficient, we minimise waste, while reducing the consumption of resources. Tetra Pak’s food processing and filling equipment represent the best available solutions. We are relentlessly innovative in our development of new products and services that minimise resource use and reduce cost for our customers.
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