Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Tetra Pak

Many dedicated green people have managed to get to the stage where most of their waste is recycled or composted. However they may then find that the bulk of what is left (and therefore goes to a landfill site) is Tetra Pak cartons from fruit juice, soya milk and so on. Many authorities cannot recycle these because of their complex and non-biodegradable components.

Tetra Pak - in a good example of obfuscation - claim that their cartons are simple - and in the very next sentence state that they have seven layers of material, most of them plastics and foil! Likewise the website talks about recycling the cartons, but doesn't explain in what way. Are they actually broken down into constituent components for reuse? If so how much more energy does that use, on top of the energy to create these complex cartons in the first place?

Since there are now biodegradable plastics, the best option environmentally would be for Tetra Pak to use those plastics and cardboard (i.e. no foil), then anyone could just compost the cartons. Then there would be no waste, or need for recycling plants, or further energy usage.

Unfortunately when Tetrapak were recently asked via email to consider making a 100% compostable carton like that, their reply of 10 December 2007 read like a brush off, defending their use of embedded foils and not mentioning the options of using biodegradable materials at all. Unfortunately "Tetra Pak tailor the packages to the need of the product": not to the environment.

1 comment:

sniff said...

It is possible to recycle your Tetra paks at what was the old co-op in the Waun, at the top of Penglais hill and opposite the Davarn Datus. There is a recycling bin there, although it is often full to overflowing. Finland has been recycling its Tetra paks for over a decade, apparently to make office furniture.