Recyclability and the prevention of packaging leakage into the environment has become the main sustainability requirement for packaging and is defining what types of packaging will be used in the upcoming decades. Recyclability definitions developed by key stakeholders and influencers are moving from "technical recyclability" to "recycling demonstrated in practice and at scale".
The discussion on solutions has been dominated by improvement and re-design in the collection and recycling systems, as well as in the design of packaging for recyclability:
Since 2020, we are implementing Design for recycling across all developments to become more conscious of how decisions can impact the recycling value chain, and to then make a better choice.
When a recycling value chain is working well, it also prevents littering, saves resources and reduces climate impact. To ensure our recycling efforts are aligned across our business, since 2018, Tetra Pak established dedicated teams, organised in our global sustainability function, with more than 50 experts all over the world, to continue developing one of our biggest assets that is our knowledge and experience -on-the-ground work- on developing recycling value chains, to expand collection and recycling of packaging in non-legislated countries.
Collaboration is the cornerstone of success. Partnering and connecting stakeholders is critical to building sustainable recycling value chains, that is why we have an open approach to partnership and collaborate, and associate with a wide range of local and global stakeholders, working with customers to secure the expansion of the packaging collection infrastructure, and to explore how to improve recycling by lowering transformation cost and/or improving the value of recycled materials from our carton packages.
We use high-quality raw materials to make our packaging and fulfil our mission to make food safe and available everywhere. Once our packaging has fulfilled its purpose, those raw materials should not go to waste. Instead, they can be collected and -using relatively simple techniques- recycled into something useful.
On average, more than 70 percent of our packaging material is made from long, strong paper fibres that can be recycled several times. The thin layer of polymers – or plastics – in our beverage cartons can be blended with other polymers and turned into new products, such as roofing tiles, crates, carton boxes and more.
As we continue to drive collection and fibre recycling, we are also increasing our focus on polymer recycling in our packaging. As part of our pledge to the EU Plastics Strategy, we will work with partners to ensure that by 2030, recycling solutions are in place for all components of our beverage cartons.
Recycling contributes to a low-carbon circular economy that keeps valuable materials in use. It also helps prevent littering, saves resources, and reduces climate impact.
In Thailand, used beverage cartons have been transformed into corrugated roofing sheets for emergency housing. As well as preventing waste and reducing CO2 emissions, this public participation project has also helped raise awareness of the value of recycling.
Recycling works when all the necessary factors are in place and well connected. A weak or missing local link – such as a lack of efficient collection systems, separate collection of packaging and waste management infrastructure – is a challenge. With our new range of market-relevant objectives, we can tailor our approach to focus on actions with the greatest potential for impact or progress; we can zero in on the right problem in any given geography and solve it in the right way. We are currently driving local recycling initiatives in more than 70 countries.
Our new set of objectives and relevant metrics fall into six categories: consumer awareness, customer awareness and collaboration, collection and sorting, fibre recycling, PolyAl recycling and increasing the value of recycled materials.
Some examples of recycling objectives in action
We take a value chain approach to recycling. This means working on everything from consumer awareness, and collection and sorting infrastructure, through to expanding market opportunities for recycled materials and boosting business opportunities for recycling entrepreneurs. Partnering and connecting stakeholders is critical to building sustainable recycling value chains. We collaborate and associate with a wide range of local and global stakeholders, including waste management companies, recyclers, municipalities industry associations and equipment suppliers.
Read more about how we build recycling value chains
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