Tetra Pak to pilot buy-back model of used beverage cartons

10:31 | 23/08/2022 Environment

A program to collect and recycle used beverage cartons in the community will be piloted in Ho Chi Minh City from August 2022 to March 2023, aiming to collect and completely recycle 3,000 tonnes of beverage cartons, turning them into useful products such as paperboard materials and bio-roof panels.

Evolving from the model of collecting cartons through informal waste collectors, initiated in 2010 by Tetra Pak – a Swedish food processing and packaging solutions company, this pilot program will be implemented under a partnership between the Packaging Recycling Organization Vietnam (PRO), Tetra Pak and Circular Action.

tetra pak to pilot buy back model of used beverage cartons
The highlight of this pilot program is the sponsorship of PRO Vietnam, and the application of digital solutions from Circular Action to manage carton collection

“Driving the collection of used beverage cartons for recycling has always been at the core of Tetra Pak's sustainability agenda. It is a crucial part of Tetra Pak’s long-standing efforts in realizing its promise to Protect What’s Good, including Protecting Food, Protecting People and Protecting the Planet,” said Mr. Eliseo Barcas, Managing Director of Tetra Pak Vietnam. “This program also reflects Tetra Pak’s commitment to supporting its customers in fulfilling their producer’s responsibility to collect product packaging after sale.”

The difference between this pilot program and previous activities is the sponsorship of PRO Vietnam, and the application of digital solutions from Circular Action to manage carton collection.

Mr. Pham Phu Ngoc Trai, Chairman of PRO Vietnam, said: “We appreciate the initiative, the model and the effectiveness of the collection and recycling of used beverage cartons (UBC) by Tetra Pak – one of our core members. We would like to collaborate to execute this pilot project under the common goal of establishing a new model in UBC collection for recycling – an initiative that faces challenges in practice, supporting the informal sector in this value chain, and building the circular economy in Vietnam.

tetra pak to pilot buy back model of used beverage cartons
The program aims to collect and completely recycle 3,000 tonnes of beverage cartons, turning them into useful products such as paperboard materials and bio-roof panels

We believe that the pilot project will be successful and serve as a foundation to increase carton collection and recycling in the coming years. Besides, we will also utilize this initiative as a typical example to apply to the collection and recycling of other packaging materials. This will be our flagship project, reconfirming our commitment to the execution of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) – which will be effective in early 2024. PRO Vietnam believes, together, we will make our country Green – Clean – Beautiful.”

The pilot program is remarkable in the sense that it helps to build awareness and encourage collectors who are actively participating in the community to collect cartons at source. Besides, selling used cartons to recyclers will improve the commercial value of this kind of waste. Meanwhile, collectors will also receive financial incentive based on the volume of cartons they collect.

Through this model, the program hopes to build an ecosystem of collecting and recycling cartons from the very beginning of the collection chain to include those who gather the waste. This will help improve the collection and recycling rate and reduce the number of cartons discharged into the environment, thereby moving towards a circular economy. Besides, it also improves the livelihoods of collectors participating in the program.

tetra pak to pilot buy back model of used beverage cartons
The program hopes to reduce the number of cartons discharged into the environment, thereby moving towards a circular economy

Three aggregators, including Lagom Vietnam, Tien Thanh Paper and VECA, have confirmed their participation in the program. These aggregators will purchase used beverage cartons from the informal sector and sell them to Dong Tien Paper Factory in Binh Duong. Here, used beverage cartons will be recycled into useful products such as industrial wrapping paper, eco-roofing and eco-flat sheets. The project aims to approach and engage more aggregators, thereby increasing the program coverage and collection volume.

Acting as a consultant and project manager, Mr. Thierry Sanders, President of Circular Action, said: “This pilot project brings a triple dividend to Vietnam. Firstly, it reduces waste being disposed in the environment or going to landfills. Secondly, it increases the income of the informal collectors and, thirdly, it is efficient since we pay on delivery. Later in the program we will reintroduce our mobile technology to directly pay the poorest collectors involved in the supply chain.”

Aiming at a low-carbon circular economy, Tetra Pak strives to use renewable materials and reduce emissions throughout its value chain. The company's ultimate goal is to increase the rate of renewable materials to up to 100% and achieve zero emissions across all business activities.

In line with its promise to Protect What’s Good, which includes protecting Food, People and the Planet, Tetra Pak has initiated many sustainable activities in Vietnam over the past 12 years, focusing on collecting and recycling used cartons with many local partners.

tetra pak to pilot buy back model of used beverage cartons
The project contributes to improving the livelihoods of collectors participating in the program

In early 2022, Tetra Pak announced an investment of 1.2 million euros to upgrade and expand the capacity of recycling used beverage cartons at the Dong Tien Factory from 9,000 tonnes per year to 17,000 tonnes per year. The project is expected to complete the installation of machinery in early 2023 and begin operations in the second quarter of the same year.

The company also cooperates with dairy manufacturers to collect milk cartons at schools within the framework of the school milk program. The company also collaborates with major retailers such as Mega Market and AEON MALL to implement carton collection at malls in Ho Chi Minh City and Ha Noi.

With a view to promoting the strength of the business sector, Tetra Park, together with leaders in consumer goods, packaging solutions, retailing and importing industries, founded PRO Vietnam under the common goal of recycling all packages by PRO members by 2030.