Packaging giant Tetra Pak published its 2017 sustainability report last week, and among its 2016 achievements is its adoption of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines for the first time since it began publishing such reports in 2014.

The report, which focuses on operations throughout 2016, identifies that 77.8 billion litres of products were sold in 188 billion Tetra Pak packages. The company has a long-term goal of producing all packaging from 100% renewable materials, although no date has been outlined. 

"Our long-term ambition is for all our chilled and ambient packages to be made from renewable alternatives to oil-based plastics. By the end of 2016, we had delivered over 100 million of these renewable packages to meet customer demand. Despite considerable progress, bio-based polymers are still only in a small fraction of our cartons and a niche product for the plastics industry. Our commitment remains to expand their use to cover more of our packages, across all sizes," the report said.

"The challenge becomes increasingly complex when considering the social cost of alternative raw material sources (for e.g. local food availability and working conditions) attached to bio-based polymers. We are working with a number of our stakeholder partners to explore these issues, while also continuing to assess alternatives like other plant-based materials, organic waste and algae."

In other packaging related highlights, the company secured 100% of their paperboard from FSC-certified and other controlled sources in 2016.

"As a consequence of this effort, our Tetra Brik Aseptic 1000 Edge with Bio-based LightCap 30 recently became the first aseptic carton in the world to receive the highest class of Vinçotte certification for its use of renewable materials."

The report also notes that Tetra Pak joined RE100 (a global network of businesses that have voluntarily pledged to source 100% of electricity from renewable sources) last year as part of its own commitment to sourcing 100% renewable electricity by 2030. Renewables provided more than a third of Tetra Park's total annual consumption worldwide in 2016.

Last year was also the year Tetra Pak became the first company in the food packaging industry to have their climate impact reduction targets approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBT), a global partnership between CDP, the World Resources Institute, World Wide Fund for Nature and the United Nations Global Compact to which over 210 companies have committed.

"Working with the Science Based Targets initiative, we have committed to reducing operational greenhouse gas emissions by 42% by 2030 and 58% by 2040, from a 2015 baseline. Also, we commit to reduce value chain emissions by 16% per unit of revenue by 2020 (2010 baseline)."

Click to read their sustainability report and GRI G4 content index