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Tetra Pak using bio-based polyethylene

By: Michael Lauzon

June 26, 2013

Swiss carton packaging major Tetra Pak said it plans to use bio-based polyethylene from Braskem America in its products.

Braskem offers low density PE ultimately based on sugar cane from its production plants in Brazil. The firms will conduct a trial in Brazil and they expect to expand the program beyond the South American nation in the first quarter of 2014.

Braskem, based in São Paulo, said it will use bio-based LDPE as a component of packages made in Brazil. The plan will result in Tetra Pak achieving an 82 percent renewable source material usage in the 13 bilion composite cartons it makes in Brazil annually.

Braskem makes ethylene monomer from ethanol derived by sugar cane fermentation. It claims the bio-based LDPE has the same properties as LDPE made by polymerizing petroleum-based ethylene. Braskem sells its bio-based polymers under the I’m Green trademark.

“The new agreement to be signed with Braskem demonstrates our commitment to bring environmental initiatives to our customers and is a further step in our journey to develop fully renewable packages,” noted Tetra Pak President and CEO Dennis Jönsson in a June 26 news release. Tetra Pak’s headquarters are in Lausanne, Switzerland.

“The new bio-based I’m Green LDPE is as inert, resistant and recyclable as the polyethylene made from fossil sources but contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during the sugar cane growth process,” explained Braskem President Carlos Fadigas.

Braskem’s use of bio-based LDPE complements its use of paperboard from responsibly managed forests in Brazil, as certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Tetra Pak employs more than 20,000 in operations in more than 150 countries. In addition to packaging production it also has technology for food processing.

Braskem claims it is the largest thermoplastic resin producer in the Americas with 36 production plants in Brazil, United States and Germany. It said it makes 16 million tons of thermoplastics and other petrochemical products annually. It estimated it can make 200,000 tons per year of PE from sugar cane ethanol.

The Forest Stewardship Council is an international, not-for-profit organization that helps define social and environmental criteria for forest management.