Sustainability has evolved from a buzzword to a steadfast commitment in the modern business landscape, and Tetra Pak, a global leader in food processing and packaging solutions, stands as a beacon of this evolution. With a core vision that extends beyond mere food protection, Tetra Pak has placed itself at the forefront of sustainable practices, especially in the South Asian region. The company's journey towards creating a circular economy has not only influenced its brand actions but also left an indelible mark on environmental consciousness and social well-being.
"Sustainability is our guiding light since day one. As a purpose-driven company, we hold ourselves accountable for making a positive impact on the community," says Juhi Gupta, Director, Sustainability, Tetra Pak South Asia.
Embracing a Circular Economy Vision
From its inception, Tetra Pak has championed sustainability, making it more than just a corporate initiative—it's a cornerstone of the company's identity. As a purpose-driven enterprise, Tetra Pak's commitment to making a positive impact goes beyond profit margins. This devotion to safeguarding both people and the planet has led to a comprehensive approach that spans five interconnected areas: food systems, circularity, climate, nature, and social sustainability. This all-encompassing strategy drives innovation, shapes design philosophies and influences every facet of Tetra Pak's operations.
In 2022, Tetra Pak achieved a remarkable milestone by introducing a game-changing fiber-based barrier, replacing traditional aluminum layers. "A trailblazing feat that not only shrinks our carbon footprint but also crafts an enticing post-consumer carton, inviting recycling," notes Juhi Gupta. This breakthrough not only reduces the environmental impact but also demonstrates Tetra Pak's commitment to pioneering sustainable packaging solutions that resonate with consumers.
Innovations that Transform
The company has embarked on a journey to minimize litter and enhance user experience. Tetra Pak's commitment to energy efficiency is palpable, with targets set to achieve Net Zero by 2030 in its own operations and to extend this approach to the entire value chain by 2050.
Beyond its production walls, Tetra Pak has constructed a robust network of over 30 partners across India, highlighting its collection and recycling commitment for used beverage cartons. "Through our programs, our endeavor is to provide formalization opportunities to the waste workers to help them avail Govt. social welfare schemes and also provide them with improved healthcare facilities and education centers for their children," says Gupta.
This two-decade-long dedication to nurturing a thriving ecosystem has translated into significant investments, with over Rs 25 crore poured into fortifying the chain over just the past three years.
As the industry embraces mandatory Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), Tetra Pak's momentum surges. The ecosystem the company has voluntarily developed over the years now stands as a foundation for the industry to build upon, strengthening the value chain and amplifying the commitment to environmental sustainability.
Expanding Recycling Horizons
"Our far-reaching collection and recycling network spans the length and breadth of India, enveloping 26 states and UTs, as well as extending its embrace to include 15 Indian Army contingents," adds the Director.
Tetra Pak's collection and recycling network in India has not only grown but has also evolved in scope and reach. Partnering with over 30 collection partners and four strategic recyclers, Tetra Pak's network seamlessly threads together efforts across the nation. Over two decades, the company's dedicated collaboration with allies has strengthened the recycling ecosystem for carton packages across the country.
The evolution of Tetra Pak's network is evident through collaborations with organizations like Earth Recycler, FINISH Society, The Kabadiwala, and Waste Warriors. This network has empowered Tetra Pak to effectively collect and recycle more than 40 percent of the cartons distributed throughout India, underscoring the company's unwavering dedication to environmental sustainability.
Recycling for a Sustainable Future
"We work with four recyclers across the country who use multiple ways to recycle packages," says Juhi Gupta.
Tetra Pak's commitment to recycling extends beyond collection partners—it extends to the innovative practices of recyclers themselves. Four key recyclers across India are at the forefront of turning used carton packages into sustainable solutions. One method involves extracting high-quality fiber content through a pulping process, resulting in recycled paper products and granules used in various applications. Another pioneering process converts shredded cartons into panelboards, offering a zero-waste solution that aligns with Tetra Pak's commitment to minimizing environmental impact.
The company's manufacturing facility in Chakan, Pune, stands as a testament to balanced production and sustainability. Achieving world-class TPM (total productive maintenance) recognition from the Japan Institute of Plant Maintenance, the facility embodies outstanding levels of safety, production quality, reliability, efficiency, and sustainability.
The commitment to sustainability is ingrained in every aspect of the manufacturing facility, from zero-water discharge and rainwater harvesting to a substantial solar power plant and utilization of environmentally friendly housekeeping products.
Driving Innovation for a Better Future
"Aligned with our principles, we want to lead the sustainability transformation backed by innovation to build a better future for the world." - Juhi Gupta, Director, Sustainability, Tetra Pak South Asia
As the Director of Sustainability, Juhi Gupta spearheads Tetra Pak's innovative approach to driving positive impacts on the environment and communities in South Asia. Building on Tetra Pak's founding principle that a package should save more than it costs, Gupta emphasizes the pivotal role of innovation in the journey toward sustainability. The company continually seeks to strike a balance between environmental responsibility and food safety, ensuring that sustainable solutions are practical and scalable.
Within South Asia, one of the pressing challenges Tetra Pak addresses is waste segregation and recycling. "For this, we work with multiple partners to build innovative awareness programs," explains Gupta. The "Alag Karo" program, launched in Gurugram, exemplifies this commitment. Collaborating with NGOs like Saahas, Coca-Cola India, and GiZ, Tetra Pak's initiative promotes source segregation in residential complexes, schools, and commercial establishments, fostering a culture of responsible waste disposal.
Tetra Pak's long-running partnership with RUR Greenlife under the "Go Green with Tetra Pak" initiative showcases the company's dedication to increasing the recycling of used beverage cartons. Through this program, used cartons are recycled and transformed into school desks and benches for underprivileged schools, making a tangible difference in local communities.
Embracing tech-driven platforms, Tetra Pak collaborates with partners like Kabadiwala, a technology-based waste disposal platform, to enhance collection and awareness efforts.
Future-Focused Sustainable Packaging
"Consumers are well-aware that sustainability is the need of the hour. Continuous investment in innovation both upstream as well as downstream, helps us offer solutions that are not only consumer-friendly but also environmentally sound," emphasizes Gupta.
With environmental consciousness on the rise, Tetra Pak is poised to remain at the forefront of sustainable packaging solutions. The company acknowledges the growing consumer demand for environmentally friendly products and commits to offering solutions that are not only sustainable but also meet high standards of quality and reliability
The company's commitment to research and development extends from increasing the fiber content in packaging materials with responsibly sourced raw materials to introducing innovative features like tethered caps.
The Sustainable Future Beckons
Guided by the vision of creating a circular economy, the company has redefined its role in the food processing and packaging industry, Tetra Pak has built a legacy of positive impacts on the environment and communities.
From pioneering fiber-based barriers to minimizing energy consumption, Tetra Pak's innovations showcase a deep-rooted dedication to sustainability. The expansive collection and recycling network spanning the region underscore the company's determination to drive real change. Collaborations with partners amplify the impact of Tetra Pak's efforts, creating a ripple effect that benefits waste pickers, schools, and communities at large.
As Tetra Pak envisions a future where sustainability is paramount, its commitment to innovation, quality, and environmental responsibility stands strong. With a steadfast focus on a circular economy and a pledge to offer solutions that make a positive difference, Tetra Pak continues to lead the charge toward a greener, more harmonious world.