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.
What was in your lunchbox growing up? Whatever you got (carrots) or traded it for (chips), chances are there was a juice box somewhere in the mix.
From school to soccer, they were virtually everywhere—and the stuff inside always tasted great.
If you’re feeling a little nostalgic right about now, you’re not alone. Even today, some of us are rediscovering our love for the humble juice box.
Turns out juice boxes
are even cooler
than we remember.
But how did juice get so popular in the first place?
In the nineteenth century, French scientist Louis Pasteur figured out that by heating liquids like beer, wine, and milk before packaging them, they could go longer without spoiling.
And not long after that, a dentist named Dr. Thomas Bramwell Welch (sound familiar?) adapted that process specifically for grape juice, sparking the beginning of the juice industry as we know it.
But since we don’t all live near vineyards, there was a problem: the industry needed a better way to sell and ship liquids.
From the bottle to the box.
Before the mid-twentieth century, most drinks came in reusable glass bottles. (Just picture the friendly neighborhood milkman.)
But in the 1940s, Dr. Ruben Rausing began looking for a more efficient and hygienic way to package milk. He ultimately created a continuous filling system that completely filled milk cartons, leaving no room for any air that might spoil it.
His unique tetrahedron-shaped paperboard milk cartons were a huge hit in Europe, where they first started appearing on shelves. Dr. Rausing then set his sights on developing a new variation of his carton, one that could be shipped and stored more easily while still keeping the contents safe.
With the Tetra Brik® carton, the world got one big step closer to its first juice box.
In 1963 the Tetra Brik package debuted in Dr. Rausing’s homeland of Sweden, where it was an immediate success. Its advantages were obvious: not only could it be completely filled to capacity, it was also a real space saver.
The Tetra Brik
carton changed the
With their perfectly rectangular build, Tetra Brik cartons could be easily and efficiently bundled and packaged together and shipped in huge quantities.
This was a real game-changer. After all, imagine stacking hundreds of 2-liter bottles on top of one another: their cylindrical shapes leave awkward gaps in between each unit. The Tetra Brik package proved to be the perfect solution to that problem.
But Dr. Rausing wasn’t done there.
The Tetra Brik carton was only beginning to revolutionize the dairy industry. Just six years after the introduction of the Tetra Brik package, Dr. Rausing and his company Tetra Pak (named after his first tetrahedron carton) incorporated aseptic packaging processes–like flash-heating the contents and sterile filling methods–into the construction of the new Tetra Brik Aseptic carton.
With these new aseptic cartons, the entire system was now more sanitary, preserving the quality of their products longer—up to six months without spoiling, with no refrigeration or preservatives required.
In 1974, the world
got its first juice box.
This safe, cutting-edge technology let Tetra Pak refine their existing inventions and create new products. Then, in 1974, the Tetra Brik Aseptic 200ml carton was launched in Europe, and the first juice box was born.
In just 50 years, the juice box has already come a long way. Check out where it started, where it is now, and what’s coming next.
Tetra Pak debuts the Tetra Brik carton, solving the problems of inefficient filling and large-scale shipping.
By incorporating aseptic technology, the new Tetra Brik Aseptic package could ensure the quality of products for even longer.
Tetra Pak introduces the TBA 200ml carton and the world gets its first juice box.
Constructed with advanced materials and sporting 15 different openings, the latest Tetra Brik Aseptic carton continues to take juice boxes to a whole new level.
Tetra Pak creates the world’s first completely renewable carton, the Tetra Rex® Bio-based package. Made entirely from resources that can be replenished, it set a new standard for sustainable packaging and renewable living practices.
Tetra Pak cartons now come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including classic paperboard tetrahedrons and paper-based bottles, and can be used to hold everything from fruit juice to soup to wine.
To help reduce waste around the world, Tetra Pak is committed to doubling their global recycling rate by 2020.
More recently, Tetra Pak has taken Dr. Rausing’s plan for the Tetra Brik carton one step further with the introduction of the first completely renewable package. The Tetra Rex Bio-based carton is made of 100% renewable materials from natural resources that can be replenished over and over again, raising the bar for sustainable manufacturing practices.
The Tetra Brik Aseptic
package is the best selling
beverage carton, ever.
Tetra Pak’s familiar design has influenced many of the packaging ideas that followed, but its impact can be seen far beyond just the grocery store: in 2014 it was featured at the Museum of Modern Art as a part of their Humble Masterpieces exhibit.
Without all that, the juice box we grew up with would never have existed.
So next time you see one on the shelf, remember that it represents the latest in a long line of legendary innovations. Then stick in that straw, take a long sip, and enjoy.