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TetraPak aiming for sustainable practice
November 3, 2009 - 7:24 am

Zero Waste enthusiasts, in the UK, are consumers who take personal responsibility for waste, mainly plastic, but also look to good business practice. Examples include Tetra Pak and Nestle, though some companies are not universally popular.

Tetra Pak are willing to take back all waste packages for reprocessing at their Swedish home. This, of course, helps consumers who now have an alternative to landfill/EfW Incineration for the waste product. To aid the process a video competition (closed at the weekend) promoted ways to completely flatten the empties for maximum transport storage. Their internal processing is not perfected yet but sustainability is their aim.

This experience is not shared by North American consumers, judging by Beth’s topic. I wonder if such collection is feasible.

Beth Terry
409 Posts
November 3, 2009 - 9:01 am

Hi John. I think it’s great the Tetra Pak is willing to take back and recycle its containers. I do wonder, however, how much energy and materials could be saved in the first place with reusable containers vs. disposable ones. Tetra Paks are difficult to recycle because of the many layers of materials in the aseptic packaging: plastic, cardboard, aluminum, cardboard, plastic. Few recyclers are able to deal with this kind of mixed material.

I do realize that Tetra Paks allow for products to be kept on the shelf without refrigeration, which reduces the energy necessary to keep them cool as well as prevents wasted food. But at the same time I’m concerned about eating/drinking foods that are stored in plastic if I don’t know what chemicals have been added to the plastic.

I guess what I’m saying is that there are pros and cons. While I do appreciate Tetra Pak’s move toward Extended Producer Responsibility, I personally don’t buy food and beverages packaged in Tetra Paks.

November 3, 2009 - 11:08 am

Hi admin. Thanks for the reply. The poor recyclability of the package means that special reprocessing is required, hence the take-back from the UK. As the package is used by other companies, for their produce, reusables are less practical since the design requires a light-weight, compact structure.

The plastic aspect is a negative to some extent, but polythene is less controversial than others, like polycarbonate. Tetra Pak could not function as efficiently using glass, which it was designed to replace.

My preference for Tetra Paks is also to do with single-use PET options which can only be downcycled. Plastic bottles generally are a bigger negative, whereas Tetra Paks can be reprocessed, though not easily everywhere. That last point needs attention by the company.

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