Several life cycle assessments (LCAs) have been made, investigating the environmental impact of food packaging systems. In the examples below, LCAs were undertaken by independent scientific institutes, using the internationally-accepted standard method (the ISO 14040 series of standards). All studies were peer-reviewed.
The environmental impact of selected wine packaging systems were assessed in 2010 in this LCA, including different sizes of glass bottles, PET bottles, bag-in-box, stand-up pouches and beverage cartons. Several environmental impact categories were assessed including impact on global warming and primary energy use. Tetra Pak was one of the project sponsors, together with Systembolaget Sweden, Vinmonopolet Norway, Elopak Group Norway, Vitop Smurfit Kappa France and Oenofors Sweden. When looking at the 0.75 litre size and the impact on global warming, the study shows that the beverage carton is the most favourable.
This peer-reviewed scientific study from North America in 2006 was commissioned by Tetra Pak and compared different wine packaging systems – wine glass bottles, wine plastic bottles and wine cartons. It analysed each package according to its life cycle, the cradle-to-grave analysis of the product that covers all steps from raw material extraction through to container disposal. In all three categories measured, energy requirements, solid wastes, as well as greenhouse gas emissions, the cardboard packages scored significantly lower than the comparable plastic or glass bottles. The study is based on the internationally accepted standards for life cycle assessments, the ISO 14040 series.
This peer-reviewed scientific study was commissioned by Tetra Pak in 2009 and compared different packaging systems for the Nordic market. The study includes a number of Tetra Pak's packages, and includes reference values for plastic and glass packaging.
Due to the specific market development in Germany, a follow-up study to the UBA-study was commissioned by the German Industry Association for Carton Packaging (FKN) in 2006. This independent and scientifically peer-reviewed study confirmed the long term environmental benefits of the cartons. Using the same LCA method and standards as the UBA study of 2002, the study compared beverage cartons and single-use plastic bottles and found the cartons to be clearly advantageous, both in term of its CO2 footprint as well as in some other impact categories.
An independent and peer-reviewed scientific study commissioned by the German Federal Environmental Agency, UBA, Berlin, Germany, in 2002 shows that drink cartons have a low environmental impact. The study compared the environmental performance of refillable and non-refillable beverage packages - plastic bottles, glass bottles, cans and drink cartons. Cartons were the only non-refillable packages that were identified as equally environmentally favourable to refillable glass bottles, and were classified as 'environmentally advantageous' under German packaging law.
This peer-reviewed LCA study investigates the environmental impact of Tetra Recart and alternative packaging systems for the packaging of retorted food products, including the steel can and glass jar. The study covers the market situation in Germany, Italy and EU28+2. All life cycle steps are included in the assessment, from raw material extraction to end-of-life management.
The study has been commissioned by Tetra Pak and was finalised in December 2017. The study is performed in accordance with the relevant ISO standards (ISO 14040 and ISO 14044) and accompanied by a critical review process.
This peer-reviewed LCA on food containers compares the Tetra Recart food package to the steel can and plastic pouch. All life cycle steps were included: material production, converting steps to transform raw materials into containers, filling empty containers with soup, retorting filled containers, transporting empty containers or rollstock to the filling location and transporting filled containers to the retail location, secondary packaging production (e.g., corrugated box or tray to transport filled containers), and disposal or recycling at end-of-life. In line with the ISO 14040 standards, the LCA study has been reviewed by a panel of independent experts.