SWITZERLAND – Global food packaging company, Tetra Pak has partnered with global resource management company Veolia to enable all components of used beverage cartons collected within the European Union to be recycled by 2025.

According to Tetra Pak, the average beverage carton comprises around 75% paperboard, 20% plastic and 5% aluminium foil, and the fibres recovered during recycling have a healthy market when converted into high-quality paper pulp for use in both industrial and consumer products.

However, this is not true for the recovered polymer and aluminium (PolyAl) mix.

With the new partnership, the extracted PolyAl will be processed at dedicated facilities and converted into raw materials for applications within the plastic industry.

The company said the overall value of used beverage cartons is expected to double, making the value chain for collection and recycling more efficient and viable.

From the European Union, the partnership is expected to be expanded to more markets around the world.

“All materials from beverage cartons can be fully recycled into something new and useful.

Our approach to recycling involves working with many partners along the value chain, because a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

The challenge in the EU is to achieve the economies of scale and turn PolyAl into high value secondary materials,” said Lisa Ryden, Recycling Director, Tetra Pak

“With this partnership, we are combining our respective areas of expertise to find sustainable solutions for PolyAl recycling.”

Laurent Auguste, Senior EVP Development, Innovation & Markets, Veolia said “This partnership joins together our resource management expertise and Tetra Pak’s packaging material expertise.

“We are proud to embark on this journey with Tetra Pak to sustain and grow beverage carton recycling.

At Veolia we work every day to make waste a valuable resource, and are constantly developing innovative solutions, and investing in technologies, as part of our wider commitment to living circular.”

Sustainable packaging goal

Tetra Pak is embarking on a holistic approach to sustainability driven by the ambition to develop a packaging portfolio of 100% renewable materials.

Speaking to Packaging Insights, Tetra Pak’s Vice President for Sustainability and Chairman of the Sustainability Forum said the company is attempting to increase the viability of the renewable sources market in an effort to only use renewable and available materials.

In order to offer sustainable carton, Tetra Pak has been running the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) program, supplying 420 billion cartons that carry the FSC label.

Given that the carton supplier’s packs are 75% carton, and that they also incorporate polymers and aluminium, Tetra Pak said it looks to innovate around these materials to establish them as 100% fully renewable.