The beverage carton industry is one of the most sustainable packaging sectors in Europe. Discover how environmental organisations and manufacturers are pushing to make it even more circular.
As one of the largest and most widely used sectors of the paper and board industry, packaging comes under a lot of scrutiny from governments, panels, organisations and the media for its environmental impact. Fortunately, through a lot of investment, hard work and dedication, it’s also one of the most sustainable industries in the world, with 83% of paper and cardboard packaging in Europe being recycled – the highest of any packaging material.
90% Carton Collection Target
One area of packaging that’s currently getting a lot of attention is the beverage carton industry. Made from an average of 75% renewable material, beverage cartons are a highly sustainable alternative to plastic and glass bottles, with most European recycling networks able to recycle the cartons easily.
At the forefront of the beverage carton sector is The Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE). This industry body provides a European platform for beverage carton manufacturers and their paperboard suppliers to benchmark and profile beverage cartons as a safe, circular and sustainable packaging solution.
Constantly pushing for increased efficiency in the carton recycling system, ACE recently announced that they are calling for a 90% mandatory collection target for beverage cartons. The organisation wants to add this target to the European Commission’s Roadmap to 2030 and Beyond, which states that all packaging should be recyclable and/or reusable by 2030. In doing so, they want to create the appropriate conditions for ensuring that beverage cartons can be recycled at scale by 2035, facilitating a reliable waste stream to encourage investments in recycling infrastructure and technologies.
“The benefit to the environment would be very big,” explains Dragos Popa, a consultant with Roland Berger. “Beverage cartons have the lowest CO2 footprint by far, but they still have a carbon footprint. The introduction of the target would increase the recycling performance of beverage cartons significantly, up to 90%. We calculated this would mean eliminating approximately 300,000 cars in addition per year.”
Clear Sustainability Labelling
Alongside the work being done by ACE to increase the circularity of beverage cartons in Europe, many manufacturers are conducting their own research and recommending new initiatives to increase awareness of the sustainability of cartons.
A recent report by carton giant Tetra Pak has found that half of the consumers surveyed will take a brand’s decarbonisation efforts or sustainability credentials into account when making a purchase. The report goes on to recommend that food products should be labelled with their environmental impact alongside their nutritional value as standard. This would minimise consumers’ confusion, maximise their engagement, and ensure they can compare product labels.
“We must not underestimate the role we all have to play in the global food system, and how it must be decarbonised in order to meet global net zero goals,” says Alex Henriksen, Tetra Pak Managing Director for North Europe and UK. “Tetra Pak will continue to drive the conversation that this report stimulates, which provides the Government with a clear next steps for actions to decarbonise the UK’s food system.”
To find out more information about The Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE), go to www.beveragecarton.eu