POST-CONSUMER RECYCLING

We are always thinking about the broader impact of our operations on the environment and society, and we believe that post-consumer recycling is an investment in our future. When recycled beverage cartons are given a new life, we protect natural resources, reduce climate impact and contribute to communities.

​Our goal to double the recycling rate

Post-consumer recycling is an essential part of our environmental agenda. In 2010, we set ourselves a goal of doubling our recycling rate to 40 percent by 2020. Since then, we have succeeded in increasing the percentage of packages recycled annually from 20 percent to 25 percent and the number of Tetra Pak packages from 32 billion in 2010 to 47 billion in 2016. 

Defining recycling success

On our journey so far, we have come to understand that different markets have different needs and levels of maturity. Rather than focusing on a single indicator, we need to look instead at how well we are performing against the overall objectives which allow us to remain competitive and continue to meet the needs of our customers. Recycling rates remain a relevant metric but a global recycling rate will no longer be our main target.

For 2017, we have therefore introduced a new set of metrics and targets that are market-relevant, reflect to our objectives and that allow us to focus on what’s important in any given location. They are a richer and more comprehensive way of measuring our recycling work across the board, and a solid foundation for setting our future ambitions. The new metrics measure our work in different areas including working with associations around the world to promote recycling, investing in awareness campaigns, joint promotional activities with customers, public outreach programmes, ensuring access to recycling collection and improving recycling capacity. In the future, we will report against these new metrics. 

“This is one of the most significant changes we have ever made in how we track progress of our recycling activities. I believe it reflects the level of maturity our global recycling programme has reached.” Mario Abreu, Vice President Environment

How recycling works

The layers that make up an aseptic carton – paper fibres, polymers and aluminium – can all be recycled using relatively simple techniques, and turned into new products, cutting the amount of waste sent to landfill and reducing demand for resources. We divide recycling solutions into three categories, depending on the materials to be recycled:

  • fibre recycling – the paper in our packages is used to produce pulp as material for new paper products;
  • polyAl recycling – the polymer and aluminium in our packages are used, either together or separately, as material for new products; and
  • full carton recycling – without separating the paper, plastic and aluminium, the whole package is used to produce material for new products.

The choice of recycling method depends on the market; without a strong market, there is no incentive to collect recyclables or manufacture products made from recycled materials. We favour recycling as often and as much as possible; where this is not possible, we seek to extract heat, electricity or fuel. Today, approximately 11 percent of Tetra Pak packages sold worldwide undergoes this process of energy recovery. 

Driving recycling across the value chain

Our work in promoting and facilitating recycling spans the entire recycling value chain and includes:

Partnering with waste management companies, recyclers, municipalities, industry associations and equipment suppliers is critical to our approach.

recycling bins

Supporting collection and sorting infrastructure

Building a robust infrastructure means working with private and public sector partners to provide collection and recycling opportunities, developing the market for recycled products and contributing to discussions about legislation. Around the world, there are different rules and regulations about how waste should be handled – and what is recycled. We want to increase the collection and recycling of Tetra Pak packages in all our markets, which means adapting our approach to reflect local legislation, infrastructure and practice.

recycled paperboards

Creating demand

Without demand, there is no incentive to collect cartons or make products from recycled materials. So we are constantly looking for new ways of repurposing used packages and their components, carrying out research and running tests to identify new and profitable products that can be made from recycled packaging materials.

At the same time, we are working to promote both recycled materials themselves and their end-products. Since market demand is a strong incentive for both collection and manufacturing of recycled products, we are helping to create profitable business opportunities for recyclers and indirectly supporting both the growth of recycling companies and the development of a strong collection infrastructure.

The recycling network

The recycling network

Companies recycling used beverage cartons range from family owned small entrepreneurs to multinational companies. Beverage cartons are currently being recycled in around 80 countries worldwide with a range of collection and recycling solutions reflecting the maturity of the individual market. In some markets, such as the UK, Brazil and the United States, consumers are benefiting from apps that show them where they can take their used cartons for recycling.

To find out more about our partners in individual countries, contact your local Tetra Pak office.

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