Tetra Pak Testing New Fibre-Based Layer for Food Cartons
In the near future, Tetra Pak will experiment with a fibre-based barrier in place of the aluminium layer in portable food containers supplied to consumers under ambient temperatures.
The aluminium layer presently employed in food carton packaging is said to play a significant role in ensuring product safety while contributing to a third of Tetra Pak’s greenhouse gas emissions connected to the company’s base materials.
Tetra Paks are also prohibited or not accepted in paper recycling systems in some areas, with the recycling rate for these types of cartons estimated at around 20%.
According to Tetra Pak, it conducted a commercial technology validation for a polymer-based replacement for the aluminium layer in Japan starting in late 2020.
The 15-month trial also helped the firm better understand the value chain ramifications of transitioning to a polymer-based barrier and quantify whether the solution offers a carbon footprint reduction.
The material is aimed at increasing recycling rates in countries where recyclers prefer aluminium-free cartons, the firm says.
In recent years, Tetra Pak has been working with a number of its clients to develop a fibre-based barrier.
According to the firm, around 40% of customers would be more inclined to search for recycling if their packages were entirely composed of paperboard with no plastic or aluminium.
Tetra Pak, on the other hand, has yet to disclose how the fibre-based barrier will affect carton recyclability, so it’s unclear whether this is a recyclable technique at this time.
Earlier this year, Morrisons, a British supermarket chain, announced its intention to switch all of its own-brand fresh milk products from HDPE bottles to Tetra Pak cartons.
The move was criticised by some due to the uneven recycling infrastructure for Tetra Pak cartons compared to HDPE, which is widely recycled.
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