Tetra Pak named as one of the Top 50 Sustainability and Climate leaders

Tetra Pak has today been recognised as one of the world’s 50 Sustainability and Climate Leaders. The leading food processing and packaging solutions company has been operating in South Africa since 1958, and as part of the international group the local business has been acknowledged for its commitment to pioneer a sustainable future, with a documentary showcasing its fascinating journey.

The video features interviews with members of Tetra Pak’s Global Leadership Team, highlighting how the role of the food sector in tackling climate change is becoming even more imperative. The team explains why accelerating de-carbonisation and collaboration is critical to lead the sustainability transformation of the food packaging industry – addressing complex and multi-faceted challenges such as global warming, “circular” recycling and biodiversity.

Food is a critical but often overlooked element of the climate issue. The global food system accounts for 26% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions[1], while 8% of total emissions are caused by food waste[2]. In other words, if food waste were a country, it would be the world’s third largest producer of emissions. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the weaknesses of the world’s food system, which will only be further amplified by the expected growth of the worldwide population to 9.1 billion by 2050[3].

High-performance food packaging plays a critical role in feeding the world, but it must do so sustainably, so that food availability does not come at the cost of the planet. This lies behind Tetra Pak’s purpose: To commit to making food safe and available, everywhere, in a way that protects what’s good – protecting food, protecting people as well as protecting the planet. To minimise climate impact, while helping to ensure food security for the future, the company takes a full life cycle view of its solutions, while always working collaboratively. This means:

-Maximising the use of renewable materials, and sourcing them responsibly in a way that protects biodiversity;

-Minimising the carbon impact of its operations as well as the one created by its value chain, for instance by accelerating the switch to renewable energy and by stepping up investment to develop low carbon processing and packaging solutions;

-Enabling greater access to safe food while reducing food waste: the aseptic filling technology, that Tetra Pak introduced to the food industry in the early ‘50s, allows for ambient distribution and storage, without requiring energy intensive refrigeration; and

-Driving an active agenda to develop sustainable recycling value chains.

Stefan Fageräng, managing director, Tetra Pak South Africa, said: “Our company was founded on the philosophy that a package should save more than it costs. The growth and success of the local operation is proof that South Africa and Africa will deliver on our vision of making food safe and available everywhere. We continue to innovate new technologies and strategies to drive growth in the industry, while providing our customers with sustainable solutions to grow their businesses. Sustainability has always been at the core of everything we do, as such it is also a fundamental building block of our 2030 strategy, so we are proud to receive industry recognition for our work to date.’

He added, ‘Though Tetra Pak has always had sustainability at the heart of its business, with the current climate crisis and potential food security challenges brought on especially by the pandemic in Africa, there came about an understanding that the food packaging industry needed a major step change in its view of sustainability. The ambition of our 2030 strategy is to deliver the world’s most sustainable food package. This means creating cartons that are fully made from renewable or recycled materials, are fully recyclable and carbon neutral. We see this as the only way to protect what’s good – food, people and the planet.’

[1] https://ourworldindata.org/food-ghg-emissions

[2] UN FAO, Food wastage footprint & climate change

[3] http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/35571/icode/

Image credit: Bill Oxford / Unsplash