Good for people, planet AND business

Good for people, planet AND business

Published April 29, 2016

The world's leading food processing and packaging solutions company, Tetra Pak, has the drive to pursue environment excellence as one of its four main business goals.

«The reason is simple; what is good for the planet, is also good for our business» Erik Lindroth

“The reason is simple; what is good for the planet, is also good for our business,” says Tetra Pak’s Environmental Director for the Nordics, Erik Lindroth.

Tetra Pak is one of EAT´s business partners.

Business executives play an important role at the EAT Stockholm Food Forum 13-14th of June which brings together 500 world leaders and experts across sectors and disciplines to discuss one of the greatest challenges facing humanity today: How to provide the growing global population a healthy and nutritious diet within the ecological boundaries of our planet.

“Synergistic solutions to the complex food system challenges can only be developed by a holistic approach” says founder and president of the EAT Foundation, Dr. Gunhild A. Stordalen. “Scientists must provide the evidence, and policymakers must translate it into policy. However, industry leaders act fast on facts and are by far the best to translate global risks into business opportunities and develop creative and innovative solutions that are tailored to meet consumer demands”.

Erik Lindroth at Tetra Pak says the company’s sustainability approach has numerous positive effects to the company – and the planet. For example by setting an ambitious climate goal across the value chain, the company saves both resources and money – and the environment benefits as well.

Data for 2014 show that CO2 emissions across all elements of the Tetra Pak value chain declined by 16 percent from a 2010 baseline, even parallel to a 14 percent increase in production over the same time period.

Tetra Pak’s sustainability approach is summarized in the brand promise, the company’s web page explains. PROTECTS WHAT’S GOOD™ means “protecting food through the company’s processing and packaging activities”. It also means “protecting people, both inside and outside the company. And it means protecting the future: our planet’s, our customers’ and our own”.


«Synergistic solutions to the complex food system challenges can only be developed by a holistic approach» Dr. Gunhild A. Stordalen

Proud employees
The company’s environment focus is not driven by altruism, it is driven by the determination to strengthen the company’s position and competitiveness, according to Tetra Pak Nordics’ Environment Director.

“In order to compete, modern companies must take social and environmental responsibility,” Lindroth says.

A survey done by Tetra Pak shows that more than 80 percent of Nordic consumers believe that climate and environmental issues will become increasingly important over the next five years.

Lindroth says Tetra Pak’s ambitious climate goal covers every aspect of the value chain, from the raw material sourced all the way through to how products are recycled after use.

The company’s definition of good packaging is: Packaging that has as little environmental impact as possible, preserves the content naturally and is easy to transport, store, use, and recycle.

Lindroth says the company’s activities on sustainability also creates positive results among employees.

“You can sense an impressive level of satisfaction when talking to colleagues. I know that they discuss the company’s environment commitment with friends and family.

According to Lindroth the sustainability focus is also adding value in recruitment.

“Businesses that don’t engage actively in sustainability attract workers who are mainly driven by salaries. We can recruit employees that are also proud to be part of our journey.”

Communicates improvements
Tetra Pak uses their sustainability efforts actively in communicating with the general public. The Environment Director stresses that the communication must be accurate and based on facts.

“The launch of products with an improved environment profile is a good opportunity to tell people what we do.”

Tetra Pak’s main sustainability role, however, is in the field of food protection. With the launch of the aseptic packaging in the 1960s, the shelf life of liquid food was significantly extended and the need for refrigerated transport and storage was reduced.

Milk and other foods can now be stored at room temperature for up to a year without use of preservatives, which is valuable in many developing countries with lower access to refrigerators and cold storage facilities.

Through improved shelf life, good packaging is a key factor to reduce food waste. According to FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) estimates, global food waste is responsible for 3,3 billion tons of C02 emissions every year.

Good for business

According to a chronicle in the Guardian by Matthew Wheeland, former managing editor of, “a growing body of research shows that consumers, especially young ones, believe that doing something good for the world should be part of a company’s core business plan”.

Better Business Journey, a small business consortium of the United Kingdom, claims that “88 percent of consumers said they were more likely to buy from a company that supports and engages in activities to improve society.”

One4All, an organization committed to informing companies about Corporate Social Responsibility, quotes a Harvard University study saying that stakeholder-balanced companies “showed four times the growth rate and eight times employment growth when compared to companies that focused only on shareholders and profit maximization.”

A wave of success stories tell us that environmental practices are profitable. Moving towards the green shift, there are many business opportunities.

Rick Fedrizzi, the man who helped make LEED certification for buildings, started thinking about eco-friendly architecture while selling air-conditioners in Florida. Two decades later he is the CEO and founding chair of the U.S. Green Building Council.

LEED certification is perhaps the most widely used green building rating system in the world, and is according to Greenthink in effect in 150 countries around the world. estimates the industry will be valued more than $3 billion by 2020.

Fedrizzi told that sustainability is driving a level of innovation that is rewiring how whole industries approach their business.

“The green building industry has been a huge driver of innovation in the last decade, and in doing so created a market that never existed before: new formulations of core products; new processes for traditional manufacturing; new applications of technology and performance measurement that is both fascinating and fantastic.”

Ioannis Ioannou, Assistant Professor, Strategy and Entrepreneurship, London Business School, argues in a that it is hard for any business leader today to ignore sustainability.

He refers to the latest UN Global Compact–Accenture CEO study that found 97 percent of the 1,000 CEOs interviewed across 103 countries and 27 industries see sustainability as important to the future success of their business.

“Moreover, 78 percent see sustainability as an opportunity for growth and innovation. Notably, 84 percent of the CEOs believe that business should lead efforts to define and deliver sustainable development goals, and 79 percent of them see sustainability as a route to competitive advantage in their industry.”

Peter Bakker, president of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, says “the time has come for business to scale up the solutions that can holistically address the environmental, social and human challenges related to food, and turn them into opportunities. The urgency around food systems, human health and climate change are intrinsically linked.”

In 2014 Bakker told the Sustainability Science Congress in Copenhagen that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is outdated and at best, only a partial solution.

Leading companies are already going way beyond CSR by integrating sustainability into everything they do in recognition that business cannot succeed if society fails, is Bakker’s key argument.

Collapsing ecosystems and dwindling supplies of natural resources ultimately will result in economic decline with severe consequences for all.

Unilever, ranked by Greenbiz as one of the most progressive business organizations in the world today, has closed down its CSR department and seek to integrate sustainability principles into everything the company does.

«The time has come for business to scale up the solutions that can holistically address the environmental, social and human challenges related to food, and turn them into opportunities. The urgency around food systems, human health and climate change are intrinsically linked.”» Peter Bakker

Business must be on board

Business has traditionally been seen as part of the problem, but President Gunhild A. Stordalen of EAT, argues business must be seen as a core part of the solution towards the green shift.

“There is no business on a dead planet. The good news is that there is a growing consensus among the private sector stakeholders that business as usual is no longer an option, and that the only viable way forward is to integrate sustainability in any business strategy – as an integral part of the company´s DNA”.

Stordalen says the global food system needs an urgent transformative shift that promotes health, environment and socioeconomic goals. A holistic approach that allows for the power of capitalism to help the changes happen rapidly – which will require a well-coordinated effort involving stakeholders from science, business, politics and civil society.

«Should it not be the responsibility of the politicians to meet the world’s biggest challenges?» Dr. Gunhild A. Stordalen

“No governments, nor the international community can alone build the future we need.  We must break down the silos and develop a scientific 2050 roadmap for food systems: What will food systems have to look like by mid-century, from country to country, within the planetary boundaries? And as important; what will such food systems have to deliver, in terms of securing diverse, healthy nutrition to the populations? Business is the key to accelerate the development, by developing downstream business solutions, leveraging multiple benefits for people, planet and socioeconomic development – and ultimately, achieve the Global Goals. The fact that we are in the midst of a massive green shift cannot be ignored anymore, and the forward-thinking companies that realize that the future is about health and environmental sustainability and act accordingly, will be the winners. In the green evolution the most responsive to change will survive.”

Two of the speakers at EAT Stockholm Food Forum
Michael Grosse (Executive Vice President, Development & Service Operations, Tetra Pak) and Peter Bakker (President and CEO, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development) are two of the speakers at the third EAT Stockholm Food Forum (13-14th of June).

Examples of Tetra Pak’s sustainability efforts:
* Pioneering the use of FSC® certified raw materials in 2007, having delivered more than 200 billion FSC-labelled packages by April 2016. (FSC – The Forest Stewardship Council is an international, non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting responsible management of the world’s forests)

* Launching the world’s first fully renewable beverage carton in 2015 with all plastic components made from bioplastics

* A climate goal for 2020 across the value chain capping CO2 emissions at 2010 levels while at the same time aiming to grow five percent per year

* Setting a 2020 global recycling target at 40 percent, a doubling from 20 percent in 2010