Save On Straws With Tetra Pak’s 'Push It Back' Drink Packs

RECYCLE EASY

Save On Straws With Tetra Pak’s 'Push It Back' Drink Packs

Packaging company Tetra Pak supplies over 190 billion of packages all over the world is committed to protecting the environment. Brian May, Managing Director Tetra Pak Sdn Bhd speaks to AWANI Review’s Dania Zainuddin.

You know plastic straws are bad for the environment. And we often dispose them without taking much notice.

As many countries, including Malaysia, are phasing out single-use plastic straws, Tetra Pak is fighting the war on plastics by telling people to ‘push the straw back in the pack’, once the carton is empty.

“It is that simple. For packages that have a straw or a screw cap, push the straw back in the empty pack or re-attach the cap when you are finished. This will ensure all parts of the package will go through the proper disposal process together,” says Brian May, Managing Director of Tetra Pak (M) Sdn Bhd.

The problem with plastics is not in the usage; plastics become a waste problem if they are not properly disposed of.

But for a multinational food and beverage packaging company like Tetra Pak - where straws play an integral function of its packages - it needs an alternative; and one way of doing so is by using paper straw.

“We are also developing a paper straw that is suitable for its portion-sized carton. It’s still being tested and we plan to roll that out extensively globally by the end of this year,” says May.

Tetra Pak's Commitment To Minimise Carbon Footprint

Tetra Pak delivers over 190 billion packages of liquid drinks such as milk, juices, soya, and solid food in over 175 countries each year. The company, for many years, has transitioned towards a low carbon growth through responsible sourcing, using renewable materials and recycling.

“Our packaging is fiber-based - 70 to 75 percent of the package is paper,” May explains.

“Depending on the packages, some don’t even have aluminium foil. We are also part of the ASI (Aluminium Stewardship Initiative),” ASI is a certification body aimed at fostering greater sustainability and transparency throughout the aluminium industry.

“We also have some packages that use sugarcane. It’s called bio-polyethylene. That’s another way we minimise our carbon footprint. We don’t have plastic bottles in our portfolio,” says May.

He adds Tetra Pak is also working with various organisations to ensure the sourcing of materials is in line with the company’s sustainability push.

“We’re not just looking at price, we want to look at all elements of the resourcing of materials to make sure we’re resourcing from the best most reputable companies.”

“In Malaysia, we are selling about 1.6 billion packages every year. We make sure our cartons are collected and recycled into something new and useful.”

“We also work together with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). So, 100 percent of our paperboards comes from sustainable sources - they are FSC-certified. This means the forest we get the board is well managed and sustainable forest,” he says.

In Malaysia, Tetra Pak actively drives the recycling of used beverage cartons by collaborating with governments and communities through recycling programs.

“In Malaysia, we are selling about 1.6 billion packages every year. We make sure our cartons are collected and recycled into something new and useful.”

“We have established a collection chain specifically for used beverage cartons including 37 regional collectors and close to 500 collection points.”

“The drink packs will be sent to the SHA Paper Mill facility where they go through the hydra-pulping process to extract fiber for papermaking while polymer and aluminium (PolyAl) will be sent to KPT Recycle Sdn Bhd to be processed into panel boards and roofing sheets.”

“This completes the full recycling process of the beverage cartons,” says May.

Since 2012, Tetra Pak has initiated the CAREton project in partnership with Nestle Milo UHT: a collection drive for used beverage cartons that will be recycled into roof tiles.

“We also have partnered with EPIC homes, a local organisation which builds homes for the Orang Asli. We have collected about 60 million drink packs and from that, we have generated enough roof sheets to build 150 homes.”

“This year, we are hoping to collect 35 million drink packs, to be recycled into roof sheets by KPT. We are going to donate 3,000 sheets to EPIC Homes, another 1,000 to Petaling Jaya Municipality and the rest will go to various groups who are building some sort of shelter,” he says.

The CAREton project - A Collection Drive To Recycle Used Beverage Cartons Into Roof Tiles

Tetra Pak prides itself as a company that is good, and green - which is why it works closely with communities, where it operates globally, to promote positive environmental practices - even before sustainability packaging became a buzzword.

“For the past nine years, we have conducted  programs in about 1,000 schools and talked to more than 700,000 students about recycling and waste management and how to help protect the earth.”

“Eventually, we want a 100 percent recycling rate. There is still a long way to go but there is an interest."

“We also organise events in shopping malls to educate people. We have games and talk about the different elements of renewability - the kids really took it on,” he adds.

The recycling rate for Tetra Pak’s packages has also grown tremendously from a low single digit in 2012.

“Thirty-six percent of what we sell gets recycled. To me, it shows that our awareness programs are resonating with people. They are starting to understand the benefits of recycling.”

“Eventually, we want a 100 percent recycling rate. There is still a long way to go but there is an interest.

“We want to be an industry leader in the markets that we operate, and we want to be a good corporate citizen. We believe corporate citizenship is about giving back to the communities.”

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