Tetra Pak is ready to deploy its portfolio of tethered cap solutions, which will benefit food and beverage manufacturers and consumers. These benefits include minimising litter, as the cap will stay attached to the package. The carbon footprint can also be reduced because the company's tethered caps are planned to become available as a plant-based option, therefore increasing the renewable content of the package.
In tandem, the company is accelerating the expansion of its paper straws offering to ensure further renewable and low carbon materials across the range of packaging solutions. The aim of this is to address a broad range of customer sustainability needs without compromising on food safety, while still delivering on the end-user drinking experience.
Lars Holmquist, Executive Vice President Packaging Solutions and Commercial Operations, Tetra Pak, says: “These are key milestones in our journey towards the world's most sustainable food package: a carton that is fully made from renewable or recycled materials, is fully recyclable and carbon-neutral. We consistently strive to deliver products and services that adds value to food and people while protecting the planet. Our promise, 'PROTECTS WHAT'S GOOD?,' allied with this strong purpose means we are providing customers with innovative products that also meet the rapidly changing demands of society.”
Tetra Pak's tethered caps and paper straws developments mark the latest additions to its range of responsible end-to-end solutions, allowing manufacturers to achieve their ambitions in three essential areas – food safety, food waste and the environment - simultaneously.
Holmquist continues: "Approximately 32% of all plastic packaging is not collected and plastic can take hundreds of years to degrade. We focus on recycling by design, committing to invest approximately €100 million per year over the next 5-10 years to develop more sustainable packaging solutions. This includes alternatives to replace fossil-based plastics and avoid littering, as well as maximising the use of renewable, responsibly sourced materials in our packages. Addressing people's needs for recycling is a critical component for not only becoming more sustainable but making food more available and safer for all consumers.”
These steps are also central to ensuring that Tetra Pak's customers in Europe will be ready to comply with the Single Use Plastics (SUP) Directive, an integral part of the wider approach announced in the Plastics Strategy and an important element of the EU Circular Economy Action Plan.
With this in mind, Tetra Pak has accelerated innovation in the caps domain. Holmquist adds: “The significant challenge of deploying tethered caps is the scale of the change that this brings across the value chain. If we look at Europe alone, more than 1,000 packaging lines supplied by us will be potentially transformed, translating into over 20 billion packages which are expected to be converted. All of that in three years, while minimising impact on our customers' operations, optimising the consumer experience and contributing to both minimising litter and creating a carton package with increased plant-based and recycled content.”
Tetra Pak is progressing on this complex journey by working seamlessly across various project streams. Overall, this covers approximately 40 different packages with tethered caps. Those caps are all planned to become available as a plant-based option. The first one to be released on the market is the HeliCap? 26 Pro closure. This product features a new screw and flip concept with a self-locking hinge, securing food protection while providing convenience for in-home consumption. Its opening and closing mechanism has proven popular with consumers, demonstrating that the solution is delivering further benefits in addition to meeting legislative requirements.
Holmquist concludes: “We won't stop here. We are continuously innovating our sustainable openings offering. We envision a world where carton packages never become waste and where every carton is collected and recycled.”
 Source: Ellen MacArthur Foundation, https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/
 Main objective of Directive 2019/904 is the prevention and reduction of marine litter from single-use plastic items. The implementation of this directive into EU member states' national legislation will lead to a ban of selected products from the market, whenever affordable alternatives are available, among other measures. While bans on plastic straws will come into force by July 2021, EU-based beverage producers, retailers and manufacturers, as well as importers, are obliged to implement tethered caps and lids - designed to remain attached to containers - by July 2024.
 Source: consumer research conducted in Spain, Italy and Poland in November 2019, with 300 consumers through face to face interviews, focussed on HeliCap? 26 Pro opening on Tetra Prisma? Aseptic 1000 Square package.
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