Polymers

All Tetra Pak packages include a thin layer of polymer, or plastic, to prevent moisture getting in or out and to keep the product inside fresh. It is also used in our caps, closures and straws.

​​​A track record of innovation with polymers​

In 2011, we launched the industry's first caps made from bio-based polymers. Derived from Brazilian sugarcane ethanol, they look exactly the same as conventional caps but have a significantly lower carbon footprint. Where bio-based caps are available, customers can easily switch without additional investment or modifications to filling machines. Recyclability is not impacted, as the new materials are processed together with conventional polymers without restrictions. We can now offer bio-based caps for all advanced packaging formats.

In 2014, we launched the world's first fully renewable package for liquid food, the Tetra Rex® Bio-Based, made with bio-based cap, neck and film. By early 2018, we had delivered more than half a billion fully renewable packages.

In 2016, we also launched the Tetra Brik® Aseptic 1000 Edge with Bio-based LightCap™ 30. It is the first aseptic package to have a film and cap made from sugar cane-based plastic. Combined with the paperboard, this lifts the share of materials from renewable sources in the package to above 80 percent, the threshold for four-star certification from testing company TÜV Austria.

In early 2018, we pledged our support for the EU's plastics strategy , an important part of the EU's Action Plan for a Circular Economy. This commits us to substantially increasing the use of plastics made from renewable feedstock and to using recycled plastics once they are validated as safe and are legally acceptable for use as a food contact material.

In March 2019, we joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's New Plastics Economy Global initiative. As part of that initiative, in July 2019, we became the first carton packaging company to launch paper straws in Europe. We expect to expand production in order to meet global demand by 2025.​

Certified Bonsucro member

​In October 2019, we became the first company in our sector to obtain Bonsucro Chain of Custody certification. This reinforces the existing Responsible Ethanol Sourcing Programme from our long-term supplier Braskem with traceability of the entire sugar cane value chain, all the way back to the growers and mills. All our products made from bio-based polymers are delivered to customers as Bonsucro certified from March 2020.

Our Tetra Pak Certificate Code is BONS-C-0119 and a copy of the certificate can be downloaded here .

We currently use the same responsible sourcing requirements for our bio-based polymers that we use with all our purchase categories.

Looking ahead

There is a long way to go before bio-based polymers become mainstream. In particular, we are mindful of the social cost of bio-based polymers, such as how local food availability and working conditions are affected. And despite considerable progress, bio-based polymers are still a niche product for the plastics industry, and therefore only in a small fraction of our cartons at present. Our commitment remains to expand their use to cover more of our packages, across all sizes. 

We are working with partners to further explore these issues, while also continuing to assess alternatives like other bio-based materials, organic waste and algae.​​ Our long-term ambition is for all our chilled and ambient packages to use renewable and/or recycled polymers, with no further extraction of fossil feed stock necessary.​

Find out more how we use polymers