Tetra Pak tests an industry-first fibre-based barrier to replace the aluminium layer

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Tetra Pak tests a fibre-based barrier as a substitute for the aluminium layer as part of the company’s journey towards a fully renewable aseptic package.

Tetra Pak developed the barrier as part of its ambition to reduce the carbon footprint while making the post-consumer cartons more attractive for recyclers.

Following the successful completion of a 15-month commercial technology validation of a polymer-based barrier replacing the aluminium layer, Tetra Pak is now testing a fibre-based barrier that, it says, is a first within food carton packages distributed under ambient conditions.

Tetra Pak says the aluminium layer currently used in food carton packages plays a critical role in ensuring food safety but contributes to a third of the greenhouse gas emissions linked to base materials used by the company.

Tetra Pak says this initiative underscores approach to design for recycling.

To reduce this climate impact, a commercial technology validation was conducted in Japan starting in late 2020, using a polymer-based barrier to replace the aluminium layer.

Tetra Pak says this helped the organisation to understand the value chain implications of the change, and to quantify the carbon footprint reduction, as well as confirmed adequate oxygen protection for vegetable juice while enabling increased recycling rates in a country where recyclers favour aluminium-free cartons.

Incorporating these learnings, the company is now testing a new fibre-based barrier, in close collaboration with some of its customers. A first pilot batch of single-serve packs featuring this industry-first material is currently on the shelf for a commercial consumer test, with further technology validation scheduled later in 2022.

Vice President Climate & Biodiversity, Tetra Pak, Gilles Tisserand, said: “Early results suggest that the package with a fibre-based barrier will offer substantial CO2 reduction when compared to traditional aseptic cartons, together with comparable shelf life and food protection properties.

“We believe this development will therefore act as a breakthrough in reducing climate impact. In addition, cartons with higher paper content are also more attractive for paper mills; thus, this concept presents clear potential for realising a low carbon circular economy for packaging.”

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