Sustainability 101: The Truth About Tetra Paks

The Truth About Tetra PaksFrom your refrigerator to a massive section of your kitchen closets, you are surrounded with Tetra Paks — whether it contains milk, juice, readymade food or yoghurt. Food in these Tetra Paks have an increased shelf life and are convenient use. They have transformed the way we store and consume food, but did you know that they have also had a massive environmental impact?

What Are Tetra Paks?

Tetra Paks are an amalgamation of numerous layered materials, which include paperboard (made from wood), polyethylene (a type of plastic) and aluminium.  There are a total of six layers that serve various different purposes.

Tetra Pak ConstitutionThe outer most layer protects the content from external moisture, the layer after that provides stability and strength to the package, the next layer is made of aluminium and provides protection against external oxygen, smell and light. The fourth layer is an adherence layer. This is followed by a layer made of paperboard for resistance, and finally, the innermost layer that seals the liquid.

These different materials are what makes a Tetra Pak strong yet lightweight, and secure from microbes. But one has to wonder, at what cost?

What Is The Environmental Impact Of Tetra Paks?

Although Tetra Paks provide utmost protection to the content inside them, they do not really add much to the environment around us. Starting from its material procurement process, there is a lot of environmental damage involved.  An enormous amount of wood is procured for paperboards resulting in the cutting down of thousands of trees. Re-usage of recycled paperboard is again limited to certain sectors leading to a lot of wastage.

Materials like polyethylene and aluminium once combined to form polymer cannot be separated for the recycling process. The requirement for the same only comes from the cement & cheap-housing industries, which is too is often substituted with other materials.

Globally only 1 in 5 Tetra Paks are recycled every year! If you look at your kitchen and assume that every household has at least 1, that’s not very good numbers. So, even though they claim Tetra Paks are recyclable and environment-friendly, they aren’t really sustainable products.

Alternatives To Tetra Paks

The next time you think of reaching for that tetra pak, think of these alternate options available to you.

  • Steel cans for chopped vegetables, fruit purees and beans.
  • Glass containers for milk, yoghurt, oils and juices.
  • Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is even better than Tetra packed or canned ones.
  • Using re-fillable bags while grocery shopping.

As a green company, QNET is huge on sustainability and doing our bit for the environment. It’s our prerogative to practice the tenets of RYTHM and to leave the world a better place for the generations to come. Educate yourself on the various environmental issues that you can do something about, and bookmark all the articles in the Sustainability 101 Series so we can make a real difference. What practices have you already adopted? Leave us a comment.


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