Green scheming offers profit sustainability - Tetra Pak
forsaking immediate profitability by making wide reaching
environmental commitments in their operations, says the vice
president of development for Tetra Pak.
Michael Grosse told DairyReporter.com that when properly implemented, a packager or processor's move into environmental sustainability should affectively ensure more efficient long-term cost reduction. Speaking at an environmental conference at the group's headquarters in Lund, Sweden, Tetra Pak highlighted its commitment to sustainable forestry in terms of sourcing paperboard as an example of its own focus. Paperboard makes up about 75 per cent of the total amount of materials used in its packaging. The source The third-party certified forest scheme, which the group is hoping to further extend amongst its paperboard suppliers, aims to ensure improved traceability of where and when the trees have been harvested as well as encouraging sustainable sourcing. NGOs that have been working with the packager on the scheme says that Tetra Pak must continue to drive ahead in providing traceability as well as economic and ethical protection for forest-sourced as well as other packaging materials. Private concerns Grosse accepted that the company's status as a private business, thus removing the pressure of shareholder concerns, has helped the group to devise future goals over modifying its environmental impact. However, he stressed that it was his belief that amidst growing regulatory and consumer concerns over carbon footprint and other green issues, public groups will have little choice in the current climate not to follow suite. "These groups may have to take a [financial] hit for a few financial quarters, if there is even one to take at all, should they wish to successfully adopt a long-term strategy on the environment." Grosse added that its forestry commitments were part of 10 to 15 yearlong strategies being adopted by the group, alongside more immediate additional three-year plans targeting product innovation and corporate responsibility goals. In terms of its other green pledges, the company said that it was also hoping to reduce Carbon Dioxide (C02) emissions by 40,000 tonnes between 2005 and 2010. The emissions goals are equivalent to an absolute CO2 reduction of 10 per cent, which by the end of last year had reached seven per cent, the group said. Although the group says is yet to look at using similar schemes in terms of aluminium sourcing and bio-polymer derived closures, Tetra Pak believes itself to be on track to meet consumer needs for sustainable convenience. "Wherever waste is being produced, we have a non-perfect system for production," Grosse stated. "We need to make sure that we are creating useful output." The WWF view Lasse Gustafson, secretary general for Swedish branch of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says overall, it is encouraged by the commitments being made by groups like Tetra Pak and a number of other processors and packagers over sustainability commitments. Gustafson accepted that although there is still a lot more that can be done by the packager itself, the cooperation of the food industry, along with many other manufacturing sectors, will be the key in solving certain environmental concerns. "Although corporations are often part of the [environmental] problem, they can also be part of the solution," he stated. The WWF, which works with a number of companies such as Tetra Pak, as well as manufacturers like Coca-Cola, said it too had long-term goals on protecting the environment. By 2020, Gustafson said the organisation aims to have prevented any further declines within global diversity that it says threaten a variety of habitats and species, and packers and manufacturers alike must accept their responsibility in this. "If protecting biodiversity were a business, someone would need to be fired," Gustafson said. Forestry focus In a forest just outside the Swedish city of Orebro, Bengt Brunberg, forestry manager for material supplier Korsnas, says that pressure from packagers and processors for sustainably-sourced wood fibre has given a significant push in the right direction. Schemes such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FCS) certification require a number of commitments from suppliers to ensure ethical and environmentally sound material sourcing. This includes removing only a specific area of forest at a single time, while replanting and cultivating future supplies as well as conservation areas to protect nature. Brunberg said that the commitment already shown by packagers indicated that there could be a greener future for cartons and other paper-based packaging products. DairyReporter.com journalist Neil Merrett was present at the environmental conference. His trip was funded by Tetra Pak.