Tetra Pak has introduced a new collaborative innovation model with leading paperboard producers, a move aimed at tackling the food packaging industry’s sustainability challenges.
According to the latest research the global food supply chain system is responsible for 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions; a third of all food is lost or wasted somewhere in the supply chain; fossil fuel-based materials need to be phased out; and significant improvements are needed to the way packaging is dealt with after use.
This new approach brings together not only producers and suppliers, but also research institutions, universities and start-ups in an attempt to find solutions.
“We are joining forces with our strategic partners and paperboard producers to find solutions,” said Laurence Mott, Executive VP for Development and Engineering at Tetra Pak.
“It’s possible to make a completely sustainable package, but you have to make it safe. And if you can’t make it at scale, you can’t minimize food waste, and you can’t serve a growing global population. In order to bring those three things together, it takes very strong collaboration.”
Mott says that the scale of the environmental challenges the world faces requires that actors within the value chain join forces to develop truly sustainable packaging solutions.
Paperboard producers unite
Leading paperboard producers are united in their approach to tackle carbon emissions and have an ambition to create a net-zero carbon future.
“We trust, we share, we learn together. Our best innovators collaborate, and we move forward and we innovate. Sometimes we fail, but then we learn from those failures,” said Hannu Kasurinen, executive vice-president packaging at Stora Enso.
“We have grown much closer to each other, because we have the same strategic objectives – which are good for the people and the planet.”
“The vision is 100% fibre-based and fully recyclable packaging, where plastic and aluminum are not needed anymore,” said Malin Ljung Eiborn, head of sustainability and public affairs at BillerudKorsnäs, a provider of fibre-based packaging material.
“We still have, of course, some steps to go before we are there from a technical perspective. But we work as one project team on this because the only way that we can solve them is to do this together.”
The challenges the industry faces include removing the thin layers of plastic and aluminum replacing them with plant or wood fibre-based materials, developing a renewable alternative to the plastic straw, and improving the recyclability of packages. When responsibly sourced, plant-based renewable materials can support towards protecting biodiversity and the natural ecosystem. This means the industry can minimize the need for fossil-based materials.