World Environment Day: Innovative Sustainable Packaging and Collaboration is Key 

KUALA LUMPUR, June 6 – In line with World Environment Day, Tetra Pak Malaysia continues to reaffirm its commitment to “Protect What’s Good” by working with customers and partners to achieve high food safety and availability standards while minimizing the use of resources and optimising the lifecycle of everything they produce.

“This year’s theme for World Environment Day, ‘Only One Earth,’ focusing on ‘living sustainably in harmony with nature,’ is apt and closely aligned with what we do here at Tetra Pak. We develop and offer sustainable and innovative food processing and packaging solutions that can make a difference, helping protect and restore our planet’s climate, resources, and biodiversity. There is no other Planet Earth. There is only ONE and we must do everything we can to protect it,” Michael Wu, Managing Director of Tetra Pak Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and Indonesia, shared.

Packaging has been fundamental to building the food supply chains and comes at a cost to the planet. Our food system accounts for more than 25 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, which increases as demand for food increases. Recognising this, Tetra Pak is consistently pursuing actions across the entire value chain to help create a sustainable tomorrow without ever compromising on food safety or quality.

“We need packaging solutions that take us into the future. Addressing complex issues such as climate change and circularity requires transformational innovation and collaboration with key stakeholders – customers, suppliers, governments, recycling and waste collection partners, and much more,” Wu continued.

Globally, Tetra Pak has made strides in its journey to achieving the world’s first sustainable packaging – a fully renewable, fully recyclable, carbon-neutral carton. In April this year, the company announced its plan to deploy its portfolio in tethered cap solutions, designed to enhance convenience for subsequent consumption and, more importantly, play a role in reducing litter as the cap will stay attached to the package.

When the caps chosen are plant-based, made from polymers derived from responsibly sourced sugarcane, this helps reduce the carbon footprint of the carton further and increases the renewable content of the package. Additionally, Tetra Pak is working on accelerating the expansion of its paper straws offering to ensure renewable and carbon materials across the range of packaging solutions.

The company recently shared that it is now testing a fibre-based barrier to substitute the aluminium layer currently used in food carton packages. Though already thinner than human hair, the aluminium layer plays a critical role in keeping the contents inside the carton safe. It also contributes to a third of the greenhouse gas emissions linked to base materials used by Tetra Pak.

Wu said, “In Malaysia, we will continue to work with our customers and partners to bring these innovative packaging (and processing) solutions here. Some of our customers have adopted using paper straws and plant-based caps in their packaging. For example, to kickstart the mindset of replacing single-use plastic bottles with paper-based cartons, Tetra Pak partnered with The Watertree ™ Project to introduce the first locally-branded, carton-packed water to Malaysians. Some customers have also installed processing equipment that helps minimise waste and spoilage and reduces energy and water consumption.”

Given its lower impact on nature, most food manufacturers and producers are already looking to paper-based packaging. Tetra Pak believes that carton packages are one of the best ways to feed the future sustainably. Tetra Pak cartons composed of an average of 70 percent paperboard sourced from responsibly managed forests. 100% of the paperboard in Tetra Pak cartons packaged here in Malaysia or imported and sold here come from FSCTM-certified forests and other controlled sources.  

Apart from innovative solutions, carton collection and recycling also help close the loop on packaging. Working collaboratively to advance collection and develop sustainable recycling chains to realise a circular economy has always been core to Tetra Pak’s strategy. 

Tetra Pak Malaysia is one of ten founding members of the Malaysian Recycling Alliance, an alliance formed in 2021 whose goals revolve around enhancing collection, promoting the use of recycled and renewable materials and minimising post-consumer packaging leakage into the environment. 

“We envision a world where carton packages never become waste and where every carton is collected and recycled. In Malaysia, for more than 40 years now, we have been forming collaborative partnerships to help us in our journey to achieve this.”

One such partnership is with Nestle MILO® UHT in Malaysia for the CAREton Project. The CAREton project is a used beverage cartons (UBCs) recycling campaign by MILO® UHT and Tetra Pak, launched in 2012 to raise awareness of recycling and transform the used cartons into panel boards ‘green’ roofing tiles to help communities in need.

Since its establishment, the CAREton project has helped collect more than 260 million UBCs. Tetra Pak has also collaborated with local city councils and municipalities – Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ), Shah Alam City Council (MBSA), Subang Jaya City Council (MBSJ), and the Putrajaya municipality (PPJ) – to strengthen community outreach via curbside collection programs and various awareness activities.

These are just some of Tetra Pak’s initiatives and programs to help enhance carton collection and promote recycling, aligning itself with the Malaysian government’s goals of achieving a 25% recycling rate for plastic packaging by 2025 and a 76% average collected-for-recycling (CFR) rate by 2030.

Looking forward, Wu accentuates that “We will not stop here. We will continue to work with customers and partners and play an active role in developing and delivering products and services that adds value to food and people while protecting the planet.”