Weekly Column by Barbara Hirsch
Tetrapak, a Swiss packaging company, makes those ubiquitous aseptic cartons in which we are buying much of our juice, milks, soups, even wine. These are lightweight, efficiently shaped for packing, not needing refrigeration in transport, and their contents last well, which is especially important in less developed regions. And so this packaging is great for shipping and shelf life and all around handy, but in many places, still not recyclable. They are about 3/4 paper and the rest plastic and aluminum. Europe has a high recycling rate due to regulation. Facilities also exist in Canada, Brazil, India, Vietnam and China. Last year, 20% of all that were produced – 32 billion of them – were recycled globally. In the U.S., recycling availability is limited and is sadly not in Santa Barbara, where I live, but it does exist in hundreds of regions. (To learn if it exists in your community, CLICK HERE.)
The paper, milled from increasingly sustainable forest wood, is downcycled into tissue products. In the Brazil recycling plant, the plastic is evaporated, its gas used to provide 10% of the power needed by the plant. The extracted aluminum is continuously reusable.
Sustainability is a fundamental operating principle for them and they continuously work towards reducing every aspect of their environmental footprint. Since 2005 along with rapid growth, they have reduced their carbon use and emissions by 13%. Towards the possibility of making 100% renewable cartons, they are introducing plant based plastic closures. And, with an expected sales increase of 60% over the next decade, their goal is to double the number recycled.
Their latest sustainability report - CLICK HERE – is truly impressive.
They have a ways to go, but if a more perfect world exists in the future, one time use-and-toss containers will no longer be part of it.