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Tetra Pak: No packaging should end up in landfill


An EU-wide ban on landfill for recyclable waste would provide a much-needed push for the circular economy by increasing the amount of secondary raw materials available on the market, says Erika Mink, Vice President for Public Affairs at Tetra Pak International, a multinational food packaging and processing company of Swedish origin. She spoke to EurActiv’s Publisher and Editor, Frédéric Simon.

On 4 March, the Environment Council had its first discussion on the new circular economy package that was re-tabled by the European Commission in December. Why is Tetra Pak interested in that policy debate?

“As a manufacturer of packaging, we want to use raw materials in a sustainable way, in the minimum quantity possible and get it back into the recycling loop. On the recycling side, we have been involved in setting up waste collection systems ―the Extended Producer Responsibility Schemes — which collect materials separately from household waste, sort them and send them to the recyclers, like Fost Plus does here in Belgium. Then on the materials side, we have been working to ensure that what we use to produce our packages come from acceptable sources. We started with paper, which is the main part, to make sure that we can trace it back with our global suppliers.

So all of the wood used in the paper can be traced back?

Yes, 100%.

The circular economy package was withdrawn in December 2014 and re-tabled in December last year. Are you happy with the new proposal and do you think it can now be adopted quickly?

From our perspective, the package is a very good starting point. But we believe it can still be strengthened in three areas: 1) Making sure what can be recycled is recycled — and for packaging, no more landfill by 2030; 2) Recognise renewable materials as equal to recycled materials; and 3) A wider scope that looks not just at recycling but at the whole economy and material flows ―including imported raw materials― to make sure they come from acceptable sources. And 2030 is a decent time frame to drive change. I don’t think a longer time frame would help.

Read the full interview here.