The bio-based revolution extends to the carton packaging industry. In a first for this field, Tetra Pak, the Swedish multinational giant with net sales in 2012 of 11.15 billion euros, plans to sign an agreement with Braskem, the largest thermoplastic resins producer in the Americas, for the supply of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) made from sugar cane to its packaging material factories in Brazil.
This breakthrough initiative, which will be limited in scope to Brazil only for the duration of the trial, is scheduled to start during the first quarter of 2014. According to the plan, Tetra Pak will use bio-based LDPE as a component of its packages produced in Brazil. The planned move to bio-based LDPE means that 100% of Tetra Pak packages produced in Brazil, about 13 billion, will have up to 82% packaging material from renewable sources.
“The new agreement to be signed with Braskem demonstrates our commitment to bring environmental innovations to our customers and is a further step in our journey to develop fully renewable packages,” said Tetra Pak President and Chief Executive Officer Dennis Jönsson.
Braskem will use ethanol derived from sugar cane to produce ethylene, which will then be converted into LDPE. The LDPE made from renewable sugar cane has the same technical properties as LDPE made from fossil sources, and the environmental benefits of being from a renewable source. Braskem biopolymers are known under the trademark I´m green™.
“The new bio-based I´m green™ LDPE is as inert, resistant and recyclable as the polyethylene made from fossil sources but contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during the sugar cane growth process,” said Braskem President Carlos Fadigas.
“The expansion of the green products line reinforces our commitment to adding value through sustainable development for the value chain.”
Braskem is the largest thermoplastic resins producer in the Americas. With 36 industrial plants spread in Brazil, the United States and Germany, the company produces over 16 million tons of thermoplastic resins and other petrochemical products annually. As the largest biopolymer producer in the world, Braskem has capacity to produce 200 thousand tons/year of polyethylene from sugar cane ethanol.
Since 2008, Tetra Pak’s paperboard supplies in Brazil are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC™) – an independent, non‐governmental, not for profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests – which means that all the paper used in the production of Tetra Pak packages in Brazil comes from forests managed in accordance with responsible forestry management principles and other controlled sources.
Tetra Pak was the first liquid food packaging supplier to use bio-based plastic in its packaging, launching Tetra Brik® Aseptic packages with StreamCap™ 1000 produced with bio-based high density polyethylene (HDPE) supplied by Braskem in 2011. Last June the company announced global availability of a bio-based version of LightCap™ 30, which uses HDPE made from sugar cane.