Tetra Pak introduces certified recycled polymers

Tetra Pak has announced the introduction of certified recycled polymers, and has been awarded the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) Advanced Products certification. Its carton packages integrating attributed recycled polymers are now available for food and beverage manufacturers.

This move marks a key step in Tetra Pak’s approach to circularity which includes minimising dependency on fossil-based resources, responsibly sourcing raw materials, designing packages for enhanced recycling and reduced litter, and building partnerships to develop effective collection and recycling infrastructure worldwide.

Alejandro Cabal, vice-president packaging solutions for Tetra Pak, commented: “As signatories of the Ellen MacArthur New Plastic Economy Global Commitment, we have pledged to incorporate a minimum of 10% recycled plastic content on average across carton packages sold in Europe by 2025, subject to suitable food-grade recycled plastics being technically and economically available.

“Having worked closely with Ineos and RSB in the past few months, we are now able to offer carton packages integrating attributed recycled polymers, further enabling the sustainability transformation of the food industry.”

Using recycled material can contribute to increased recycling rates and make recycling more economically viable. However, reliable sourcing and quality can be a challenge, due to the limited availability of food-grade recycled plastics in the market at present.

With this in mind, Tetra Pak initiated a close supplier collaboration to explore utilising recycled polymers in carton packages and identified Ineos to provide the first batch of attributed recycled polyethylene (PE). The manufacturer of petrochemicals, specialty chemicals and oil products has been leveraging Plastic Energy’s advanced recycling process to convert waste plastic into high-quality polymers, replacing oil-based products with material featuring identical specification and the same level of product purity as virgin plastic.

“Being the first in our sector to be awarded the RSB Advanced Products certification represents yet another milestone in our journey that is fully made from renewable or recycled materials, is convenient and safe – hence enabling a resilient food system – is fully recyclable and carbon-neutral,” Cabael continued. “Qualifying and providing assurance of mass balance claims is critical to ensure transparency and accountability within the system, therefore enhancing confidence from the end-user perspective.”

Following the RSB chain of custody attribution method, the plastics are made of a mix of recycled and non-recycled materials, with the corresponding mass of recycled materials tracked throughout the Tetra Pak supply chain.