The company will launch a 100% renewable version of its Tetra Rex package – developed in partnership and produced by biopolymer manufacturer Braskem – from 2015.
The bio-based packages will be available to buy from Swedish production centers in H1 2015 - Tetra Pak notes particular interest from Scandinavian clients - with the roll-out initially planned for European customers, with expansion to other regions based on demand.
The carton is the first to market using bio-based low-density polyethylene (LDPE) films and bio-based high density polyethylene (HDPE) caps derived from sugar cane, as well as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paperboard.
Tetra Pak plans bio-based expansion 'subject to customer demand'
Christina Chester, product director, carton gable top, Tetra Pak, told BeverageDaily.com: "There’s a version of Tetra Rex suitable for pretty much any chilled fresh liquid drink or food imaginable. The package we are launching now is however primarily intended for milk, and is available both in duplex and triplex board."
"We plan to expand bio-based packaging within the Tetra Pak portfolio subject to customer demand," she added.
Tetra Pak has worked on such an innovation for many years, and we asked Chester what the principle challenges had been in bringing the concept to market. Were they technical, or was building up a bio-based plastics pipeline the most vital factor?
"The main challenge was twofold, we needed to work with a supplier capable of providing bio-based PE to the technical specifications required for our products, and the volumes required to achieve scale, which is what we have achieved in partnership with Braskem," she said.
Chester described the Tetra Rex as a "design classic" in the company's chilled portfolio, with over 200bn packages produced to date - thus it was the ideal carton to start with as a 100% bio-based package.
"The main challenge was twofold, we needed to work with a supplier capable of providing bio-based PE to the technical specifications required for our products, and the volumes required to achieve scale, which is what we have achieved in partnership with Braskem," (Christina Chester, product director, carton gable top, Tetra Pak)
Tetra Pak says that customers using the standard 1-liter Tetra Rex carton with TwistCap OSO 34 closure can easily transfer to the new package without additional investigation or modification of filling machines.
However, Chester admitted that using bio-based PE meant the new packaging material was currently higher - due to raw material costs and limited supplier availability.
"In the interim, the launch of the bio-based Tetra Rex offers our customers a choice. The bio-based packaging material cost is at a slightly higher cost for now, but we believe this is offset by the environmental and product differentiation advantages offered by the new packaging materials," she said.
"We expect over time that bio-based PE prices will come down to the same level as regular fossil-based PE. It is our goal to offer our customers packages using bio-based materials at the most competitive price possible," Chester added.
Finnish dairy Valio first to use bio-based closure
Tetra Pak only launched its bio-based closure made from HDPE – the TwistCap OSO 34 – in March, with Finnish dairy processor Valio the first to use it.
Producing a 100% renewable package has been a long-term ambition for Tetra Pak, and in April the company claimed another industry first as it started using bio-based LDPE in all of its packages produced in Brazil – this followed trials by Coca-Cola Brazil juice brand Del Valle in February.
As the time Tetra Pak said its package were, on average, 70% renewable, as it extended the bio-based LDPE rollout (boosting renewable content to up to 82%) to its 150 customers that source in Brazil – 13bn+ packs per year.