How Tetra Pak went from being ‘polluters’ to sustainability champions in the packaging industry

PROBLEM The packaging industry, in particular, has been under intense pressure to reduce packaging waste and over-packaging and, improve recyclability. There is real regulatory pressure on manufacturers to improve their environmental performance. For example, bearing the cost for the waste management of their products, clean up costs, waste treatment etc as a part of the Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme (being one of them). 



In the Field of Raw Materials 

Tetra Pak is changing takeaways practices by using sustainable packaging materials like paperboard (73%), plastic (22%) and – for aseptic packages – aluminum foil (5%). The paperboard is made from wood- a renewable resource and has the greatest environmental impact of all stages within the package life cycle.

  • 1. To secure responsible forestry, Tetra Pak works with various stakeholders like the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Global Forest and Trade Network (GFTN); and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). In 2009, Tetra Pak delivered more than 2.3 billion FSC certified and labeled cartons.
  • 2. Supplier’s audit for special forestation program – it has put a condition that a tree planted should not be felled before it is 100 years. Accordingly the plantation cycle needs to be maintained.
  • 3. Special forestation programs are implemented and a Forest Stewardship council is established to look after implementation of these policies.

In the Field of Plastic Packaging

They switched to using Project Wide, a new kind of sustainable packaging material that makes the seals of packages tighter and stronger. The material is manufactured with a reduced amount of polymers resulting in a higher renewable content and lighter package weight.

In the Field of Recycling

  • 1. Tetra Pak started their carton recycling programs in the US in 1999. Today, 20% of the total US residents across 26 states have access to carton recycling.
  • 2. In India, Tetrapak partners with local units for collecting the empty packaging wraps, separating the paper, foil and plastic and thereafter developing a board which serves as a substitute to roof-tops.  The company established a whole backward chain in collaboration with rag-pickers’ association to collect and separate the waste.

In the Field of Regulatory Compliances

  • 1. TetraPak is an ISO14000 certified organization with world class manufacturing processes.
  • Environmental audit and carbon foot-print mapping are usual practices with the company.
  • Tetra Pak Operations measures the CO2 footprint of their operations globally, using the sustainability software like the Greenhouse Gas Protocol developed by the World Business Council on Sustainable Development and the World Resources Institute. 
  • Tetra Pak has set a goal to reduce its CO2 emissions by 10% in absolute terms by 2010 compared to 2005.

In the Field of Social Stewardship

  • 1. They installed an automated plastic fibre dealing machine which saves the workers from being exposed to fiber which reduces risk of health hazards.
  • 2. Tetra Pak has helped customers, governments and community-based organisations provide milk to millions of children in developing countries in their packages.
  • 3. As a part of their CSR activity, they established Tetra Pak Dairy Hub which is a one-herd concept, consisting of 20 villages located within 15 – 20 km radius that organises and develops smallholder farmers’ milk production, which is then collected by the dairy that

owns the Dairy Hub. Equipped with facilities for cooling, testing, agri-services and trainings,

dairy hubs help registered smallholders to supply their milk and access the market.


  • 1. Their socially and environmentally responsible initiatives are appreciated and have paved the way for sustainability roadmapping in the packaging industry.
  • 2. Tetra Pak was one of the recipients of the Parivartan Sustainability Awards 2011 organised by India Carbon Outlook.


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Image Credit: SNOWKAP