Tan holding some of the products made of recycled Tetra Pak boxes. In front of her are the extract of the Tetra Pak box content which consists of 75% paper, 20% polyethylene and 5% aluminium.
WITHIN a decade, Tetra Pak, the beverage carton box manufacturer, has managed to recycle 30% of its products in Malaysia.
Before the year 2000, the company faced challenges to recycle its products because of lack of information and product understanding among the recycling operators and paper mills in the country.
However, the company took the approach to first inform and educate the end receiver of the product such as the paper mills and the operators.
Tetra Pak Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia environment director Terrynz Tan said the paper mills initially rejected the product because of the content of 20% polyethylene and 5% aluminium.
“Tetrak Pak contains 75% paper, 20% polyethylene and 5% aluminium. The paper mills in the past only knew of recycling newspaper and brown boxes comprising 100% fibre.
“They will reject the product up front just because no one taught them how to recycle it.
“They just lacked information and awareness.
“We have our technical specialists who later taught the paper mills to use their existing machines to process these post consumer products,” she said.
The paper content of Tetra Pak is converted into items such as book covers, while the polyethylene is made into roofing board or flat panel board.
And for the aluminium, it is turned into pallets that could be converted into items with the same function as those made from plastic such as clothes hangers.
“The final product after the recycling of the 20% polyethylene has been donated for the building of orang asli homes,” said Tan.
She added that the challenge faced by most packaging products was to ensure the recycling facilities and infrastructure were in place.
Tan said recycling was the end of life and everyone must look at the whole life cycle of packaging.
“When you choose the correct material, it minimises the impact to the environment.
“We have the concept of design for the environment. It has to pass our environmental requirement. This is our philosophy.
“Think of the environment from the start not as an afterthought. As from the consumers perspective, look at the end life cycle of the product before you decide on consuming it,” she said.
Not quite black and white