Tetra Pak sets sustainability targets, but says concept still has to ‘catch on’ with some consumers

Tetra Pak aims to cap its emissions at 2010 levels by 2020 and install solar panels onsite at its facilities, says Tetra Pak. ©iStock/Nexxtus

Sustainable packaging is not a new subject for Tetra Pak, but it may not be a top of mind concern for consumers when making beverage purchases.

“It will take time for people to get a better understanding of it,” VP of environment at Tetra Pak for US and Canada, Jason Pelz, told BeverageDaily. “I do think it will catch on.”

The act of recycling is a tactile experience that can help the consumer better understand the importance of being engaged in the sustainability aspect of packaging.

“You’re doing something where the relation is much easier to understand,” he added.

“I think that’s going to make the difference with what people make decisions when it comes to buying their packaging, more specifically the product that’s within that packaging.”

Sustainability strategy                      

In February, Tetra Pak set several sustainability targets. Working with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBT), the company said it would lower its greenhouse gas emissions from operations by 40% by 2030 and install onsite renewable energy sources such as solar panels while reducing its overall energy use by 12%.

SBT is a partnership between CDP, WRI, WWF, and UN Global Compact that mobilizes companies to set emissions reduction targets in-line with climate science. 

“The SBT initiative provides a science-based methodology for companies who are serious about incorporating sustainability into their business practice and want to do their part in avoiding the worst impacts from climate change. Tetra Pak is the first packaging company to complete our target review process," Cynthia Cummis at the World Resources Institute (WRI) said.

“One of the ideas or goals was to cap our emissions at 2010 levels by 2020. This just takes what we were doing and throws a little hard numbers behind, but it doesn’t change it, I would say it reinforces it,” Pelz said.

“We believe that one of the ways to be sustainable is to make sure the whole value chain is sustainable.”

Investment in solar panels and bio plastics

Tetra Pak will specifically invest in solar panels at its Denton, Texas, location and is also looking into the use of bio-based plastics to replaces fossil-based plastics to drive up the renewable content in its packaging, explained Pelz.

In order for other companies in the beverage industry to benefit from implementing sustainability practices they must approach it with a long-term mindset, which can be a daunting process for many, he acknowledged.

“When you try to build a sustainable business, what you’re doing is not just buying things from the right places, but you’re making sure that your business is going to survive,” he said.

According to Pelz, sustainable businesses are the ones that will “endure.”

“I would say people [in the beverage industry] really need to try and give it a chance.”

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