What does renewability actually mean?Renewable resources are natural resources that, if managed properly, are replaced by natural processes at a rate comparable to, or faster than, they are used up. Wood, wool, hemp, corn are all examples of natural, renewable resources.
If renewability is so important, how come no-one knows what it means?Five years ago no-one was aware what ‘carbon footprint’ meant. We are proud to be raising awareness of this crucial issue, together with WWF.
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Is it bad to cut down trees?
It is not bad to use trees as long as;
• The trees do not come from high conservation value or intact natural forests;
• The trees are replaced either through planting or through natural regeneration;
• The local characteristics of the forest, including biodiversity and the practices of people using the forest, are protected.
In fact, there are many benefits of using renewable resources like wood as long as they come from responsibly managed Sources. Good forest management helps provide livelihoods for those people who depend on them, and helps support and look after the environment, its biodiversity, and other vital resources such as water and soil quality.
Is cutting down trees causing forests to disappear? Not to make our cartons and other products made from responsibly managed forests. In fact, Northern forests, from which Tetra Pak® sources its wood pulp, have been growing in size over recent decades.
Is Tetra Pak FSC Chain of Custody certified? 100% of our paperboard sourced in Europe is traceable to its origin in the forest and meets the FSC chain-of-custody standard.
In order for us to put the FSC label on a carton both the converting factory and the market company has to be FSC COC certified, and we need to use FSC COC certified board to produce the carton.
There are 35 packaging material production plants operating around the world. Already 28 of these have independently certified FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) Chain of Custody (COC) certificates in place to ensure that the material flowing through them is traceable to the next stage in the supply chain.
We have 24 Market companies certified to the same standard and our two central handling units certified as well.
Tetra Pak has committed to source paperboard only from chain of custody certified board mills by 2015 and plans to certify the chain of custody of all its 357 packaging material production plants worldwide by 2018.
What is needed to FSC label a carton? In order for Tetra Pak to put the FSC label on a carton both the converting factory and the market company has to be FSC COC certified, and Tetra Pak must use FSC COC certified board to produce the carton.
A: Through the work carried out in its forestry programme, Tetra Pak knows that all paper board used in its converting factories comes from known and acceptable sources. In particular:
• Our Forestry Guideline states a requirement that all wood fibre used in paper board for Tetra Pak must come from legal and acceptable sources, and that all suppliers must have a system to trace all wood fibres back to the forest of origin.
• All suppliers annually report the origins of the wood fibres in the paper board supplied to us through the supplier evaluation process. We are using an independent consultant, ProForest, to ensure that the reporting is correct and that all paper board is made from wood fibres from known and acceptable sources.
• Certification is a voluntary process that brings a third-party additional level of scrutiny. The FSC certification and labelling gives an independent guarantee that the wood fibres in our packaging material comes from FSC certified, well managed forests and other controlled sources. It makes it easier for us to communicate about forestry and renewability.
• 82% of all paper board comes from FSC Chain of Custody (COC) certified suppliers, which gives an independent guarantee that all wood fibre comes from FSC certified, well-managed, forests and other controlled sources.
The trees used to make Tetra Pak cartons come mainly from Sweden, Finland, Russia and the USA.
Do you source wood from rainforests?No. And we have put rigorous traceability systems in place to this end. We only source wood from legal and acceptable sources. These systems are independently verified and certified annually according to ‘Chain of Custody’ standards set by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and /or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).
100% of our paperboard sourced in Europe is traceable to its origin in the forest and meets the FSC chain-of-custody standard, including Tetra Pak’s Wrexham converting plant. Globally, 82% of paperboard comes from paper mills whose chain-of-custody systems meet FSC standards, and another 15% comes from mills that are chain-of-custody certified according to other forest certification standards.
What other renewable materials can you use to pack liquid foods
like you?Cartons are one of the only liquid food packaging systems made mainly from renewable materials other than biopolymer bottles. For non liquid products, there is a number of starch or paper based packages available.
But why is Tetra Pak so committed to using renewable materials?We understand the importance of looking after the planet’s resources, so the obvious reason is that as renewable materials can be replaced and regenerated, it means that that we don’t run out of them as long as they are managed properly.
Another key reason however, is carbon and climate impact.
Whilst paperboard makes up around 73% of the pack, it only makes up around 28% of the carbon footprint of the raw materials needed to package. This means that the plastic (which is in all our packs) and aluminium (which is in make up over 70% the carbon impact of the raw materials, whist they only make up 27% of the pack. This means they are more carbon intensive materials. In fact, the aluminium, which makes up less than 4% of the pack, contributes around 50% of the carbon footprint of the raw materials.
This is why we continually work to reduce the amount of plastic and aluminium we use in the first place. For example, the layer of aluminium we use is only around 6 microns thick, less than that of a human hair . We are also investigating how to increase the share of renewable materials we use, and reduce our complete packaging footprint through research.
For the plastic, “green polyethylene” (polymer from sugar cane alcohol) is being tested and we are also looking at non-aluminium alternatives. The introduction of Tetra Wide, a plastic used for the inner liner of our cartons, has now been rolled out across our whole portfolio, allowing up to 30% less plastic to be used here. We are also working to light-weight the plastic caps we use on our carton so that we offer easy to use openings, with carbon savings.
In searching for these alternatives however, we need to make sure that the carton still does the job it needs to do. Cartons are repeatedly shown to be a low carbon packaging choice in life cycle studies across the world (www.tetrapak.com/climate) and long life cartons offer the additional carbon saving of helping to reduce food waste, without the need for refrigeration.
What about the non renewable bit?Cartons are made mainly (on average 73%) from wood in the form of paperboard. This is a natural, renewable resource and if managed properly, the forests are constantly replaced, either through planting or through natural regeneration so that the trees can be used for many years to come.
When it comes to the remaining 27%, as you can well imagine paper does not react well to liquids, so we use plastic to water-proof the carton and in the case of our long-life packs, we use a very thin layer of aluminium to keep oxygen away from the carton’s contents.
This allows the contents to be stored for up to or over a year, without the need for refrigeration or preservatives. This means that no nasties need to be added to keep your product to keep it for longer, allowing you to store your product until you need it, helping to save on food waste. This also means that you can save a lot of energy throughout the supply chain as the product does not need to be kept cold to keep it fresh.
What are you going to do to become more renewable as a company?As a company, renewability is at the heart of Tetra Pak’s business. Our products, cartons are made mainly from wood in the form of paperboard, a natural renewable resource. As a commitment to being more renewable, Tetra Pak has ensured that 1.5 billion of its cartons in the UK and Ireland can now carry the FSC label.
Information on our approach to environmental issues in the UK can be found here: www.tetrapaksustainability.co.uk; and global excellence can be found here: www.tetrapak.com.
What is Tetra Pak doing to reduce its use of aluminium?First of all, we use as little of it as possible. The layer of aluminium we use in our ambient packages is only around 6 microns thick. This is less than that of a human hair and is thinner than any other foil used for any large scale industrial purpose.
Secondly, we are of course also researching alternatives for the longer term, however it is important to realise the limited alternatives available that offer such unique protective properties. The aluminium barrier in an aseptic carton prevents food spoilage and waste by keeping out oxygen, harmful bacteria, light and aromas. Unopened aseptic cartons can keep product fresh for up to a year without the need for refrigeration or preservatives, saving on energy and food waste in distribution, retail and storage
How much aluminium do you use in your cartons in the UK?Less than 900 tonnes of aluminium is used in all the cartons sold to the UK market.
What does sustainable forest management mean in practice? Sustainable forest management is about finding a balance between environmental, social and economic aspects of forestry:
• Environmentally appropriate forest management means that the harvest of timber does not affect the plants, animals and other organisms of the forest in a negative way. In practice this means leaving both living and dead trees in harvesting sites, leaving forest set-asides next to the managed areas, keeping a mix of tree species in the forest etc.
• Socially beneficial forest management helps both local people and society at large to enjoy long term benefits of forest management. In practice this means that forest owners involve indigenous and local people in the planning of the forest management to make sure that they can still use the forest for recreation, food and fuel gathering etc.
• Economically viable forest management means that forest operations are planned and managed to be profitable, without generating financial profit at the expense of the future forest resources. In practice this means having long term harvesting and regeneration plans.