It all started in the 1940s, with the search for a better way to package milk.
Something that could protect what was inside—and the people who drank it—by keeping it safe and stable, even when refrigeration wasn’t available. Something efficient, with a minimized impact on the environment.
“Doing something that nobody else had done before is actually quite hard.”
What we set out to do had never been done, and it took a decade of development to create the first paper-based package that could do what we had in mind. Even the way we planned to fill it (and keep it safe, healthy, and free of bacteria in the process) presented a puzzle that eventually became one of our hallmarks.
Our aseptic cartons were considered one of the most important food innovations of the 20th century.
It was an enormous challenge. But it’s how we created the first Tetra Pak carton package, the distinctive tetrahedron-shaped packaging that inspired our name with its simple, efficient design.
For over half a century, we’ve been creating carton packaging that can safely and sustainably hold liquid food—including milk, of course—to meet the needs of hundreds of millions of people every day.
Today, we’re able to get food to people everywhere, protecting them by protecting what’s inside, with only minimal impact on our environment.
At Tetra Pak, we protect what’s good.
We still abide by our founding philosophy, the idea that packaging should save more—food and resources—than it costs. It's a way of thought that matters even more today than when we started
out—and one which will matter even more tomorrow.
All over the world, people are hard at work in small ways on the things that matter to all of us most, from the environment around us to the food that fuels us.
They’re changing how we raise, consume, and think about food, how we care for ourselves and our resources, and they’re sharing the kind of ideas that will change our future for the better.
They’re doing it at the grassroots, quietly and without fanfare.
We’re sharing their stories.
At Groundwork, we’re giving them the attention they deserve: yours. We’re sharing their stories so you can, too.
It’s just one small way you can make an impact. Because when it comes to innovation, inspiration, and changing the world, sometimes one good idea, shared, is all it takes.
Spread the word.
Know someone who’s doing their part to change our world from the ground up?
When Dr. Ruben Rausing invented a new way to package milk, he probably didn’t realize he’d just changed the world.
It didn’t take long to figure out that these cartons were perfect for packaging more than milk. Today, airtight, shelf-stable Tetra Pak® cartons are used around the world to keep juice, water, soup, olive oil, nutritional shakes, vegetables, and more safe and sound.
Tetra Pak cartons use multiple layers of materials to ensure nothing gets in or out of the package. The cartons are made mostly of paperboard, with thin layers of plastic and aluminum working together to keep light, oxygen, and bacteria out, meaning no contamination and no preservatives needed. Ever.
By protecting the integrity of the product, the carton preserves both the taste of the food and all the essential nutrients stored inside.
In fact, Tetra Pak cartons have a better package-to-product ratio than an egg. By using just the right amount of material, Tetra Pak can ensure maximum product protection while using minimal resources.
Protecting our environment, our food sources, and our natural resources is an essential part of preserving our shared future. That’s why Tetra Pak is committed to using renewable materials—natural resources that replenish over time—and meeting environmentally friendly manufacturing standards.
100% of the paperboard in Tetra Pak cartons is Forest Stewardship Council Chain of Custody certified, meaning all of it can be traced back to responsibly managed forests.
And after they’ve been recycled, the cartons can be turned into tissue, paper products, and green building materials.
These days, we’re consuming more of everything.
When it comes to natural resources, we humans are living well beyond our means.
According to an ongoing Global Footprint Network study, we’re currently consuming resources (and producing waste) equivalent to 1.6 Earths.
That’s an additional planet we just don’t have.
How much is too much?
In spite of all that, according to a nationwide survey, only 41% of Americans are aware of our current resource constraints.
These findings come as the world inches closer to Earth Overshoot Day, the approximate day on which our annual demand exceeds what Earth can regenerate.
If there’s only so many resources to go around, the more we consume, the less there will be for others. The world cannot grow indefinitely on a finite planet.
The sheer amount of water
we consume every day
What are we as individuals consuming every day?
Take water, for example. Despite making up only 4.5% of the world’s population, Americans consume nearly 20% of its resources and possess the largest water consumption footprint of any country.
Water is a short-term renewable resource, meaning it can be used over and over again as long as there’s continued careful management and rain cycles. Gallons of it disappear on a daily basis, and the usual suspects—laundry, flushing, bathing—are no surprise.
But the biggest contributing factor of all might come as a surprise: it’s our diet.
Although we don’t see it, it takes millions of gallons of water to make the products we buy and use (and throw away) every day. Click each topic to see where it’s going.
Source: Water Footprint Network
Showers, laundry, cooking, and flushing all contribute to our domestic consumption.
Factories depend on water to make and clean everyday materials, like plastic, metal, and cotton.
Most of the water we consume goes into raising and transporting what we eat and drink.
According to some sources, it takes more than a thousand gallons of water per person, per day to produce food for the average American diet, making up over 2/3 of our total water footprint.
When you consider that, from one end of the process to the other, it takes an astounding 35.9 gallons of water to make one cup of coffee, the numbers start to make sense.
But not all resources are finite.
While natural, non-renewable resources will disappear for good when consumed, there are also renewable resources that’ll replenish over time—such as wind, solar energy, biomass, and plant-based materials like sugarcane and wood fiber from trees.
Fortunately, an increasing number of groups around the world are advocating for use of renewable resources in place of non-renewable ones.
Who’s paving the way to a more sustainable future?
The move towards renewable resources is the most practical solution for slowing our dependence on non-renewable resources, and the best kind of waste is none at all.
But until then, next-generation renewable—and recyclable—packaging options like paperboard from wood fiber and green plastics from sugarcane are doing their part to preserve natural resources and reduce food waste, while companies like UK supermarket Sainsbury’s are putting waste to work through a closed recycling process that generates renewable energy.
Other solutions are also promoting positive changes by applying sustainable practices into everyday living.
One concept called the ReGen Village aims to make renewable living feasible across Europe and, one day, the world. The Village will embrace the power of today’s green technology, creating neighborhoods with every creature comfort and an added sustainability factor—they’ll grow their own food and produce their own renewable energy.
On a local, urban scale, tech firms like Biotecture (which grows hydroponic “vertical gardens” on building faces to improve air quality) and Pavegen (which harnesses the kinetic energy from pedestrians’ footsteps) are helping to improve environments and create new, creative sources of renewable electricity.
What can we do right now?
At its most basic, renewable living means choosing simple habits that help reduce the use of natural resources, especially non-renewable ones.
The concept can apply to almost every part of daily life: avoiding products that promote unsustainable practices, for example, or changing your routine to minimize the use of precious or dwindling resources, like water.
Here are a few easy changes you can make right now: