Tetra Pak’s ‘out of the box’ solution for eco-sustainability in Boracay
There’s no denying that Boracay is one of the best islands in the world. With its scenic view, towering palm trees, iconic powdery white sand and crystal clear water, it remains to be a top destination for both local and international tourists.
Following its six-month shutdown for rehabilitation last year, Boracay quickly bounced back despite the imposed ban on drinking and smoking on the beach and other public places, regulation on noise, and ban on big beach parties. After its reopening, the Department of Tourism, with Local Government Units (LGU) and Non-Government Organizations (NGO), continue to push for sustainable tourism to preserve the beauty and the future of the island as Boracay sees an increase in the number of tourists.
In celebration of World Environmental Health Day last September 26, Tetra Pak, a world-leading food processing and packaging solutions company, launched a “Food Safety and Beverage Carton Recycling Forum” in partnership with the Boracay Foundation, Inc. (BFI) — highlighting the importance of taking care of the environmental health through the promotion of cartons and Used Beverage Cartons (UBC) recycling.
Protecting what’s good, one box at a time
In line with its goal to “protect what’s good,” Tetra Pak has started an initiative in Boracay to promote the collection of Used Beverage Cartons (UBC) and its recyclability. With the intent to prevent UBCs from going into landfills and dump sites, Tetra Pak has been working closely with BFI, LGUs, and private sectors in Boracay to raise awareness on beverage carton recycling and educate the local community about the importance of waste management.
During the forum, Environment Manager and Circular Economy Expert Diane Ibay-Raza shared that Tetra Pak has also been going to schools to educate young children about the importance of recycling.
Since 2002, Tetra Pak has been rolling out their Care & Share program — an annual interschool competition where about 580,000 students from 212 school partners are encouraged to properly dispose their used beverage cartons for recycling and to drop them off at recycle bins provided by Tetra Pak in their schools. Tetra Pak also conducts environment talks among students through their school recycling education initiative, Eco Caravan.
“Sustainability is our key priority. By continuously initiating recycling value chain process and recognizing the importance of our relationships with our partners — the collectors, recyclers, customers, government, communities, schools and other stakeholders — we aim to drive low carbon circular economy across Southeast Asia and that includes the island of Boracay and the whole Philippines. Through this movement, we stand by our commitment to protect food, people, and futures,” Michael Wu, Managing Director of Tetra Pak Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and Indonesia shared in a statement.
‘Picking the pack that grows back’
As a company, Tetra Pak believes that “A package should save more than it costs.” Tetra Pak’s aseptic carton offers an alternative sustainable packaging with low environmental impact and are valuable raw materials for new products.
“Our vision is that we commit to making food safe and available everywhere. And it’s not only about making quality products, but also ensuring that it is safe for consumption,” said Larry Tobias, Tetra Pak Philippines Business Development Manager and Key Account Manager.
Tetra Pak cartons are primarily made from 75% paperboard, 21% polymers, and 4% aluminum which are sourced from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified forests and other controlled sources. Through aseptic technology, these three materials are layered together using heat and pressure to form a six-layered carton which protects the content inside from moisture, oxygen, flavour, light, air, and dirt — helping products remain fresh for months even without refrigeration and preservatives.
Research shows that beverage cartons have a lower carbon footprint than other alternative packaging and are increasingly being recycled around the world. With the help of recycling technologies offered by various industrial corporations in the country, its fibre and PolyAl components can be converted to new materials such as roofing sheets.
Ibay-Raza said that “segregation and proper knowledge in recycling” are key for recyclers to convert UBCs into a new product. There are 5 steps to prepare UBCs for recycling: 1. Rinse the pack clean. 2. Flip the top corner sides of the pack. 3. Flap open the bottom corner sides of the pack. 4. Flatten the carton. 5. Pop the straw back in the pack or reattach the cap.
Boracay’s future straight out of the box
Tetra Pak Philippines aims to establish a recycling value chain process for UBCs in Boracay Island, creating awareness of recyclability of Tetra Pak cartons or UBCs through distribution of paper waste bins around the area and partnering with specific entities that enables proper recycling of such. By applying the principles of the circular economy, Tetra Pak is aiming to reduce waste, keep materials in use and regenerate natural systems.
These UBCs can be turned into recycled paper, even roof tiles and chipboards that are durable enough for a Filipino household. Boracay locals will also be taught on how to creatively reuse these waste materials through upcycling workshops and promoting the use of these recycled end-products. Through this, the residents have the chance to generate their own income and come up with funds by crafting bags, wallets, notebooks and other products made from UBCs which they can turn into livelihood.
According to Rural Industrial Corporation (RIC), there’s no limit as to what they can create using UBCs. As long as there is a demand for it and their infrastructure and technology can handle the production, they will do it. The company also sees a lot of opportunities in UBC recycling — not just in terms of creating new products but also in taking this important step to help save the climate.
Upon the collection, the gathered UBCs will be transferred to the Paper Waste Junkshop, who will ship them to Carpel Environment Corporation. Carpel then consolidates the UBC wastes and ships it to the RIC, who will recycle and upcycle the UBCs and ensure that HORECA in Boracay have access to buy recycled end-products.
“Together with Tetra Pak, we are happy to bring this initiative in Boracay. If anything, there should be more campaigns and legislations out there that push our beautiful island to be a more sustainable destination. We want to see our place do well by doing good, and this starts with the community taking responsibility for its actions,” acting Mayor of Malay, Aklan Hon. Frolibar Bautista said in a statement.
Ibay-Raza shared that they are planning to launch the recycled end-products by November this year but they have yet to determine the prices for the distribution channels.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.