Invest in our planet by renewing the commitment to recycling

A viable world for us to live in today, and one that will sustain our children tomorrow, is a universal responsibility.

Government has recognised that Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is the preferred vehicle to reduce waste generation and increase diversion from landfill.  Tetra Pak is fully aligned with this view as we believe that EPR is central to South Africa’s waste management strategy to minimise growing waste volumes.  Allied to this is the circular economy, which is an essential part of sustainability today.

At Tetra Pak, we are fully aligned to EPR.  But the commitment to recycling and sustainability cannot rest only at manufacturing stage.  Litter, waste separation and collection – factors influencing the move towards a greener earth – bring a collective responsibility to society, across the value chain from materials suppliers, manufacturers, packaging companies, brand owners, right down to consumers.

This year, Word Environment Day was on June 5th. Its theme was ‘One Earth,’ highlighting the need to live sustainably in harmony with nature by bringing transformative changes – through policies and our choices – towards cleaner, greener lifestyles biodiversity and the depleting quality of our environment.

The waste generated in the world has been detrimental to our environment for quite some time now. Humans are generating too much litter and cannot deal with it in a sustainable way.

Tetra Pak is playing its part by manufacturing sustainable packaging and investing with recycling partners. From Q1 2021 to Q2 2022, Tetra Pak Southern Africa is invested over 400,000 Euros in efforts with its recycling partners to push in the local value chain to secure proper solutions and strong capabilities for carton packages recycling.

We have invested in Gayatri Paper Mills to optimise the recycling line and increase capacity. We have partnered with Regenerated Polymers to develop a plastic prototype pallet containing a minimum of 30% polyAl material; and we have invested R500m to upgrade our Pinetown plant.  Apart from these examples, we are exploring other opportunities that directly address recycling and sustainability.

Our efforts alone are not enough to save the planet, the call for collaboration is distinct.

At Tetra Pak, we understand the many complexities that can limit collaboration. Food is a critical but often overlooked element of the climate issue. The global food system accounts for 26% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, while 8% of total emissions are caused by food waste. The combination of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exposed the weaknesses of the world’s food system, issues affecting global food supply and security and the expected growth of the worldwide population to 9.1 billion by 2050 adds exponentially to the interconnected global challenges of climate change and sustainability.

Food packaging plays a key role in keeping food safe, nutritious, tasty, and available for people everywhere – and thereby feeding the world but it must do so sustainably, so that food availability does not come at the cost of the planet. Our ambition is to deliver the world’s most sustainable package. By continuing to develop increasingly sustainable packaging solutions, and helping food producers, consumers and the entire value chain improve their environmental footprint, mitigate climate change, and protect nature.

Key to this is maximising the use of renewable materials and sourcing them responsibly in a way that protects biodiversity and minimising the carbon impact of our operations by, for instance, accelerating the change to renewable energy and by stepping up investment to develop low carbon processing and packaging solutions. Enabling greater access to safe food while reducing food waste is evidenced by aseptic filling technology introduced to the food industry by Tetra Pak in the early ‘50s, which allows for ambient distribution and storage, without requiring energy intensive refrigeration. We drive an active agenda to develop sustainable recycling value chains and believe this should become an area of greater focus and commitment across the value chain.

South Africa experienced a decline in collection and recycling rates from 2020, compared to pre-COVID-19 rates. Factors that adversely affected the recycling sector include ongoing loadshedding, water shortages and high labour costs which forced many operations to scale down, or even close their doors permanently. Numerous recyclers were unable to operate at full capacity for several months during the past year due to lockdown regulations.

Yet recycling as a concept and practice should be actively encouraged. There is no question that barriers exist and that this is a complex road to navigate across the recycling stakeholder base. Collaboration across the value chain is of high importance in the industry as well as private-public sectors to join efforts in developing recycling solutions and implementing policies that support collection and recycling.

The devastating floods in KwaZulu Natal in April and late May clearly point to a world in trouble where the reality of climate change can no longer be ignored. Climate change has become a climate crisis, and now, more than ever, it needs a broad-based collaborative mitigation approach to halt further destruction.

 It is no longer enough to talk about what should be done to address the climate crisis. It is time to take firm action across all sectors of society – consumers, organisations, business and government institutions and businesses – for collaboration and commitment to build a framework for supporting a stable future and shaping it for sustainability.

 Tetra Pak was founded on the philosophy that a package should save more than it costs. Sustainability has always been at the core of everything we do, as such it is also a fundamental building block of our 2030 strategy, the ambition of which is to deliver the world’s most sustainable food package. This means creating cartons that are fully made from renewable or recycled materials, are fully recyclable and carbon neutral. We see this as the only way to Protect What’s Good – food, people, and the planet.

 We urge all stakeholders to invest in our planet and by committing to a forward and ongoing assurance to place an even greater focus on sustainability and recycling. Collectively, we have no option but save our ONE PLANET.

 

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