Tetra Pak has partnered with resource-management company Veolia for an initiative that will enable all components of used beverage cartons collected within the European Union to be recycled by 2025. This initiative will start in the EU and expand to more markets around the world.

The average beverage carton comprises of around 75 per cent paperboard, 20 per cent plastic, and 5 per cent aluminium foil. While the fibres recovered during recycling can be converted into high-quality paper pulp that are then used in both industrial and consumer products, the same is not true for the recovered polymer and aluminium (PolyAl) mix. The partnership hopes to change this by recycling all components. This will be done by processing PolyAl mix at dedicated facilities and converting it into raw materials that can be used within the plastic industry. The overall value of used beverage cartons will double and will make the entire value chain for collection and recycling more efficient and viable.

While Tetra Pak responded to CB’s email, they did not provide direct answers to our questions such as whether there would be a corresponding price rise to mitigate any extra cost of recycling the cartons. The company’s spokesperson told CB that increasing the material value of the used beverage carton will need several processing efficiencies and decreasing handling costs at paper mills, all of which will be key to stimulating increased collection of such cartons. Veolia and Tetra Pak are currently working together on R&D elements, the mobilisation of upstream flows, and downstream partnerships on the circularity of recycled materials produced, with local constraints that may differ. The first concrete step in this partnership will be implementing industrial recycling solutions in France.

In a press release shared with CB, Lisa Ryden, recycling director, Tetra Pak said, ‘All materials from beverage cartons can be fully recycled into something new and useful. Our approach to recycling involves working with many partners along the value chain, because a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The challenge in the EU is to achieve the economies of scale and turn PolyAl into high-value secondary materials. With this partnership, we are combining our respective areas of expertise to find sustainable solutions for PolyAl recycling.’

Laurent Auguste, senior EVP, Development, Innovation & Markets, Veolia, said, ‘We will develop an environmentally and economically sustainable solution to recycling PolyAl, first in the EU, and then Asia, to improve collection, technology and processes. We are proud to embark on this journey with Tetra Pak to sustain and grow beverage-carton recycling. At Veolia we work every day to make waste a valuable resource, and are constantly developing innovative solutions, and investing in technologies, as part of our wider commitment to living circular.’