SWITZERLAND – Tetra Pak, the multinational leader in food packaging and processing technology, is set to introduce a new modification to its UHT processing technology, aiming to significantly decarbonize a crucial stage in the production of extended shelf-life milk.

The innovative adjustment comes in the form of a scalable solar thermal module, developed by the Swedish solar thermal company Absolicon. This module seamlessly integrates with both existing and new UHT lines, marking a pioneering step towards more sustainable UHT milk production.

Tetra Pak asserts that this new solution provides a versatile array of decarbonization options, tailored to meet customer requirements and geographical considerations. Notably, the scalable solar thermal supply holds the potential to curtail fossil fuel usage by an impressive 40%.

Anticipated to be installed in 2024, the initial module will serve as a pilot before expanding into a global market, revolutionizing UHT processing on an international scale.

Nicole Uvenbeck, Director of Factory Sustainable Solutions & OEM Components at Tetra Pak, expresses enthusiasm about the collaboration with Absolicon, stating, “[The collaboration with Absolicon provides] Tetra Pak with a new and exciting avenue to support customers to reduce their energy demands by replacing fossil-derived energy with solar thermal solutions.”

In a conventional food production plant, a staggering two-thirds of energy consumption is thermal, primarily in the form of low to medium temperature – a demand ideally met by solar energy. This shift becomes increasingly pertinent considering that heat generation accounts for a substantial 40% of the world’s total CO2 emissions, according to the International Energy Agency.

Joakim Byström, CEO of Absolicon, comments on the collaboration, noting, “[Tetra Pak has] global access to the world’s food and beverage companies and can become a change driver for the sector’s transition from fossil fuels to renewable heat.

We are delighted to be part of this collaboration with Tetra Pak and to launch the first equipment line powered by Absolicon solar thermal, as part of our mission to reduce the world’s carbon emissions.”

Tetra Pak underscores its commitment to empowering customers to enhance their environmental footprint by optimizing operations and equipment. Nicole Uvenbeck adds, “We recently launched a new business solution called Factory Sustainable Solutions, where we help our customers optimize energy, water and CIP (Cleaning in Place) on a factory level.”

This announcement follows Tetra Pak’s comprehensive action plan unveiled last December, reinforcing the company’s dedication to steering food systems towards greater security, sustainability, and resilience.

The commitment was further solidified by a €1 million (US$1.09 million) investment in the Netherlands-based material processing and recycling company Recon Polymers, aimed at scaling a pilot plant into a full industrial operation, with the capacity to recycle a minimum of 8,000 metric tons of PE and aluminum from beverage cartons annually.

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