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Food and Beverage

Tetra Pak's Tetra Recart Provides Eco-Minded Packaging Alternative to Cans and Jars

  • Jul, 22 2011
  • Industry Sector:Food and Beverage

Challenge

Tetra Pak changed the face of packaging over 60 years ago when it introduced aseptic (shelf-stable) carton packaging for milk. This innovation was driven by the need for a packaging product that could be transported and stored without refrigeration. Today, Tetra Pak continues to innovate to meet the ever-changing needs of customers, retailers, and the end consumer. Now more than ever before, consumers are seeking more sustainable solutions, including nutritious products that are packaged responsibly.

True to the company’s legacy to develop and manufacture innovative packaging solutions, Tetra Pak has produced a carton that has successfully met the challenge to stock the stagnant canned food aisle with a viable alternative that is lightweight, recyclable and made mainly from a renewable resource.

Strategy

For Tetra Pak, innovation is about renewing and refreshing as much as it is about creating something new. Tetra Pak first conceptualized a “retortable carton” – which enables filled projects to be sterilized within the package – years ago. At that time, the industry and consumers simply could not envision it.

Today, Tetra Pak is capitalizing on the stagnant canned food aisle with its ground-breaking retortable carton packaging system: Tetra Recart. The Tetra Recart package fulfills the increasing demands of consumers by offering an alternative to cans for entire food categories including vegetables, soups, tomatoes, beans and even pet food.

Result

Tetra Pak’s Tetra Recart provides an innovative and sustainable option for customers, retailers and consumers alike. Tetra Recart differs from traditional carton packages in order to withstand the rigours of the retorting process. It is optimized to work with batch retorting systems, which sterilize the package and its contents simultaneously using steam and hot water under pressure. The product inside is typically heated to more than 130°C during retorting – a temperature required to render the contents commercially sterile and therefore shelf-stable over a determined span of time.

To understand the innovation of Tetra Recart, it is important to acknowledge Tetra Pak’s commitment to unlocking business and environmental value across the entire packaging lifecycle. Tetra Recart is a sustainable alternative to canned food. It is made mainly from paper (66 per cent), a renewable and renewed resource. The shape and weight of a Tetra Recart package makes it exceptionally efficient to transport. Unlike conventional steel cans, Tetra Recart is transported as flat cartons to the filling factory.

As a result, one standard truck with empty Tetra Recart cartons has the carrying capacity of nine standard trucks with empty cans. It also uses one-third the packaging to deliver the same amount of product. In addition to steel cans, Tetra Recart is also a viable alternative to glass jars:

  • For every one million cans, Tetra Recart uses 32 tonnes less packaging, and
  • For every one million jars, Tetra Recart uses 182 tonnes less packaging.

At the end of its life, Tetra Recart enters a new phase that will see it transformed and begin anew. With a 94 per cent national access rate, cartons are recyclable nearly everywhere in Canada. Recycled cartons are often turned into tissue or other useful and valuable paper products, dramatically reducing the carbon footprint of this innovative packaging system. In addition, in 2010, Tetra Pak partnered with a number of corporations and local government organizations to collectively provide $1-million in seed capital to Groupe RCM, a recycling facility in Yamachiche Québec. The facility launched a line that accepts all cartons (including Tetra Recart), as well as plastic shopping bags and cellophane to make a wide variety of plastic products including: flower pots, railway ties, guard rail posts, pallets and plastic lumber.

As a technological pioneer of the packaging industry Tetra Pak has always paid close attention to how society consumes food and beverages, and the behavioural and cultural shifts that reveal opportunities. Tetra Recart embodies the transformation and innovation that Tetra Pak brings to the marketplace to address consumer needs.

Tetra Pak Canada Ltd. was the winner of the 2011 GLOBE Award for Best Green Consumer Product.

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