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July 31, 2006

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Tetrapaks - environmentally friendly?????

Tetrapaks are a fusion of plastic and paper, once they have been used once it is very unlikely that they will be recycled. The energy required to un-fuse the paper from the plastic is too great to be sustainable. At cardboard mills they are rejected as waste.

The only thing they can be used for is to make rigid board by bonding shredded tetrapaks together.

I dont think it is particularly responsible of an "ethical" company to be promoting these as recyclable when quite clearly they are difficult to recyle.

So what's the alternative? 100% recycled plastic bottles? What's the carbon footprint on them compared with a tetrapak?

Hello

Just had a word with Jess (our sustainability expert) about all of this. She says that we are building an assessment tool that will look at all the different environmental impacts of our packaging.

And she'll be looking at the carbon performance of the bottle versus tetrapak later this week and let you know as part of that project.

Will let you know what happens.

Re: recycling Tetrapaks, Jess passed on the following, which sets out how the process works:

"Baled cartons are dropped into a pulper, similar to a giant domestic food mixer, filled with water, and pulped for around 20 minutes.

This breaks down the packaging to produce a grey-brown mixture.

The aluminium foil and polyethylene are separated from the fibre, which is recovered to make new paper products.

The remaining mix of plastic and aluminium can then be used in furniture, to generate energy or even separated out into pure aluminium and paraffin.

The issue is finding out where you can recycle your tetrapak. Not all UK councils currently recycle them, in the same way that most councils didn't take plastic bottles 5 years ago, but over 75% of UK authorities now offer tetrapak recycling somewhere within their area.

To find out the nearest recycling spot to where you live - check out the interactive map here http://www.tetrapakrecycling.co.uk/locator.asp "

Hello

Jess (our sustainability chief) has looked at the carbon footprint for bottle versus carton.

Our tetrapak carton has 31.56g CO2e (or 3g per 100ml) and the 100% recycled plastic bottle has 51.94g CO2e (or 21g per 100ml), so the tetrapak is still far superior in terms of carbon footprint.

So why don't we use tetrapak for all our smoothies? Well, because when we choose our packaging we are considering a whole lot of stuff - consumer preference for look and feel, cost of packaging, shelf life of the product, method of filling the packaging with our smoothies, ease of transport etc. And of course what is the most sustainable option - and sustainability needs to think about not only carbon but also broader environmental and social issues as well.

Tetrapak has a really low carbon footprint, but requires virgin paper, and some virgin plastics to coat the paper. So there are sustainability impacts associated with forestry activities and plastics. The 100% recycled bottle uses only waste materials and is easily recyclable, but has a higher carbon footprint.

We try to make sure we get the right balance for all our packaging, and to make sure that for each packaging format that we use, we make it as sustainable as possible.

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