Good Earth

Demands for sustainable and safe food packaging rise

10:25 SGT June 12, 2017
Demands
The FSCTM certification system, which was introduced in 1994, is recognised as the highest certification standard for responsible forest management.

When it comes to food packaging, there are only a few that can offer what global food processing and packaging solutions company Tetra Pak can on a very large scale. Working closely with customers and suppliers around the world, Tetra Pak says it provides safe, innovative and environmentally sound products that meet the needs of hundreds of millions of people in more than 175 countries around the world. FoodBiz Asia finds out more.

One of Tetra Pak’s current efforts in producing sustainable and safe food packaging is affixing its packaging products with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Label. Stamping the packages with the FSC label is the easiest part. The company had to follow strict compliance procedures to ensure its packaging products stay true to the FSC label.

FSC is a stakeholder-owned system for promoting responsible management of the world’s forests, and is supported by companies, as well as social and environmental organisations like Greenpeace and World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

The FSC certification system, which was introduced in 1994, is recognised as the highest certification standard for responsible forest management. Through consultative processes, FSC sets international standards for responsible Forest Management (FM) and Chain of Custody (CoC) certification. CoC certification ensures traceability through the supply chain to the final wood or paper product and makes it possible to put the FSC logo on certified products.

And while FSC certification system is not a regulatory system imposed on industries, Tetra Pak tells FoodBiz Asia that it is nevertheless, a certification system that provides companies in various industries the platform to deliver responsible wood/paperboard sourcing commitment.

So how does Tetra Pak ensure that the raw materials they use for packaging come from FSC compliant suppliers? On average, more than three-quarters of a Tetra Pak carton’s weight is made up of paperboard – which comes from wood. Securing a sustainable supply of wood-based products is therefore absolutely critical to the company’s business. Healthy forests are important for life on earth, explains the company, and these are also key to Tetra Pak’s business success. Because the company does not own or manage the forests where it sources raw materials, Tetra Pak works closely with suppliers, NGOs and other stakeholders globally to ensure sound forest management practices. At the same time, Tetra Pak says it ensures traceability through the certification and labelling of its products.

As a major user of paperboard, Tetra Pak says it has a responsibility to ensure the world’s forests are managed in a “socially just, environmentally appropriate and economically sound way”. This is why the company is working to ensure 100% of the paperboard it uses is certified.

Thus, all paperboard sourced by Tetra Pak now comes from wood from FSC-certified forests and other controlled sources. The FSC label on its cartons are signs that it has complied with FSC requirements relating to forest management and the traceability of the wood fibre in the paperboard.

And as the company has already achieved full FSC CoC certification for all its converting plants and market companies, Tetra Pak says it can now supply FSC-labelled packages from anywhere in the world. The certification enables wood fibres to be traced at every stage of the supply chain.

Tetra Pak has procedures in place to trace the volumes of FSC certified paperboard through the company, and to ensure that only FSC approved paperboard is used for FSC certified and labelled carton packages. The company also needs to include the required FSC CoC traceability information in invoices and other order documents when it produces and sells FSC labelled carton packages. During the initial certification of a Tetra Pak site, the certification body checks that Tetra Pak procedures and systems are in line with FSC CoC standards, and all certified Tetra Pak sites undergo annual audits.

But why does Tetra Pak have to undergo this rigorous process? As a global company with a large number of suppliers around the world, Tetra Pak says it has an obligation and an opportunity to promote responsible sourcing practices. The company believes this is the right thing to do; and that it is important to ensuring that Tetra Pak remains the packaging supplier of choice for its customers and for consumers.

And in the long term, how does being FSC-compliant benefit Tetra Pak and its clients? The company explains that building a sustainable business requires joined up thinking and concerted action on many different levels. It involves broad collaboration: working closely with customers, suppliers, governments, NGOs and society as a whole, to explore ways in which the company can make a lasting positive difference. FSC Certification system, based on the triple bottom line (TBL) framework below, enables Tetra Pak and its customers to operate and grow business sustainably.

Environmentally responsibly forest management means that the harvest of timber does not affect the plants, animals and other organisms of the forest in a negative way. In practice this means leaving both living and dead trees in harvesting sites, leaving forest set-asides next to the managed areas, keeping a mix of tree species in the forest.

Socially beneficial forest management helps both local people and society at large to enjoy long term benefits of forest management. In practice this means that forest owners involve indigenous and local people in the planning of the forest management to make sure that they can still use the forest for recreation, food and fuel gathering.

Economically viable forest management means that forest operations are planned and managed to be profitable, without generating financial profit at the expense of the future forest resources. In practice this means having long term harvesting and regeneration plans.

And as the company has already achieved full FSC CoC certification for all its converting plants and market companies, Tetra Pak says it can now supply FSC-labelled packages from anywhere in the world. The certification enables wood fibres to be traced at every stage of the supply chain.

In terms of a competitive edge, FSC-labelled cartons provide Tetra Pak and its customers with the following opportunities: To stay ahead on environmental innovation, to promote corporate responsibility and to drive consumer preference.