In January 2015, Tetra Pak delivered a world first, when customer Valio started using our fully renewable cartons for its Eila® lactose-free semi-skimmed milk drink.
The launch of the Tetra Rex® Plant-based package is an important milestone on a journey that began back in 2007, with the launch of the world’s first Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC™)-labelled cartons. As one of the world’s largest consumers of paperboard, it was important for us to make a public commitment to obtaining our materials from sustainably managed forests. Since then, we have been working towards our ultimate goal – to produce a package derived entirely from renewable resources.
The Tetra Rex Plant-based package is manufactured solely from paperboard and plastics derived from plants. All the paperboard used comes from FSC-certified and controlled sources, and is traceable to its origins. The low-density polyethylene used to create the laminate film for the packaging material and the neck of the opening is produced for us by the Brazilian chemical company, Braskem. It is derived from sugarcane, as is the high-density polyethylene used for the cap.
The caps are identical in appearance and functionality to those produced using fossil fuels, and the carton itself is indistinguishable in weight and feel from the standard Tetra Rex carton. The only way it can be identified is because the words “Bio-based” are printed on the gable. The package has been awarded the highest category of bio-based certification from internationally recognized assessment body Vincotte.
Feedback from the initial two-month trial period was positive, and in March Valio confirmed that it would continue using Tetra Rex Plant-based packages for its Eila milk, and would roll it out to other products too.
Based on this initial commercial success, the new package has subsequently been rolled out globally, in a range of sizes from 250ml to 2000ml. Several customers in Europe have already signed up and interest is strong around the world. “To finally see fully renewable packages on shop shelves is a fantastic feeling,” says Charles Brand, Executive Vice President Product Management & Commercial Operations. “It bears testimony to the focused efforts of the many customers, suppliers and Tetra Pak employees involved in making this a reality.”
The Tetra Rex Plant-based package has already won a number of awards, including the Special Environment Prize for 2015 at the so-called Oscars of Packaging organized by the Italian Packaging Institute.
“It was great to see how fully committed both Valio and Tetra Pak were to this project,” says Kim Nordstrom, Project Manager, Tetra Pak Finland. “When there is a strong will, results will come – and in this case, they came fast. I also believe that we have taken a big step towards a more sustainable future, by providing an alternative to materials derived from fossil fuels. And being first to market is a clear sign that Tetra Pak is pioneering thinking, and leading the market in the area of renewability and sustainability.”
“To go from the very start of a project to launching on to the market in less than five months is pretty impressive!” adds Martin Persson, Product Manager, Marketing & Product Management. “With Tetra Rex Plant-based, we have shown that we are the market leader in terms of environmental innovation, and that we are striving to deliver products that don’t just perform well, but are sustainable. Within a month of the fully renewable package being on limited release, more than 60% of our TwistCap™ OSO 34 closure volumes had moved over to the fully bio-based version – that’s more than 800 million closures per year. That shows the level of demand for renewable products.”
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