A package should save
more than it costs.

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.”

Founder of Tetra Pak

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.

Tetra Pak isn’t the only one protecting what’s good.

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?

Give our editors the heads up

These paperboard cartons
are a big deal.

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.

So how does it work?

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.

When it comes to packaging materials, these cartons keep it to a minimum.

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.

Cartons help protect more than just our foods.

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.

By using sustainably sourced, renewable materials, Tetra Pak cartons are protecting our foods, preserving our natural resources, and promoting environmentally conscious practices.

To learn more about cartons, click here.


The Plants That Always Spring Back

As rainfall becomes less predictable, these Lazarus-like plants offer hope in a drying world.

% of land used in crop production worldwide:
Average global temperature in 2016:
Longest period without rainfall:
173 months
Brought to you by:

What would nature do?
Ever since we began to farm our own food, we’ve relied on an unpredictable friend: rain. As the adverse impact of climate change becomes more apparent, drought, it seems, is becoming a new normal.

And nowhere more so than in Africa, where a majority of agriculture is rainfed as opposed to irrigated. As a result, in 2016, South Africa’s ongoing drought—the worst in three decades—cost the country a quarter of its maize production.

As formerly fertile agricultural lands become dusty, arid fields, researchers are determined to answer the impossible: can humans farm without water? Molecular biologist Jill Farrant of the University of Cape Town says yes—we just have to take a closer look at nature.

Learning from the plants that do it best.
In the deserts of Africa, a group of hardy plants has evolved to endure under extreme conditions. With only 135 known varieties in the world, these aptly named “resurrection plants” are a unique species that can survive months—even years—without water. When rehydrated, they resume normal growth within 24-48 hours, making them a perfect fit for drought-prone environments.

Extreme conditions produce
extremely tough plants.

For the last several years, Farrant and her global network of collaborators have been studying these plants’ extraordinary survival skills in hopes of finding a way to protect farmers’ crops from drought.

How do others keep from drying out?
All living, actively metabolizing organisms, from microbes to humans, are made up predominantly of water, and a loss of 15-25% can be fatal. While we humans can make immediate behavioral changes to avoid that—if we’re feeling thirsty, we drink some water—plants, on the other hand, have developed tactics over time to weather dry spells.

Some plants store reserves of water to see them through a drought (succulents); others send roots deep down to subsurface water supplies (trees and shrubs). Though, while they may be able to handle a drought of some length, they’ll never actually quench their need to consume water.

But even so, neither of these lifestyle choices is transferable to crops like corn, which many developing countries rely on. We’ve got to go deeper, to the molecular level, to see what allows these resilient superstars to spring back from near complete desiccation. And that’s precisely what Farrant and her team are doing.

A deeper look at survival.
To figure out the secrets that keep resurrection plants ticking, Farrant and her team are undertaking a systems biology approach in which they study everything from a plant’s molecular structure to its ecophysiology.

What they’ve discovered is that the unique genes that prevent resurrection plants from withering away also exist in the seeds of modern crops—they’re just dormant.

The secret to producing extremely drought-tolerant crops … lies in resurrection plants.

Jill Farrant
Molecular Biologist

By understanding the environmental and cellular signals that trigger the defense mechanisms to switch on and help resurrection plants survive when facing stressful conditions, Farrant could potentially enable the same reaction in crops.

She’s recently focused her research on maize and teff, a grass native to Ethiopia which grows grain used to make flatbread, porridge, and other traditional foods and accounts for two-thirds of the countries’ daily protein intake.

Can we help crops learn to adapt to a drier world? Possibly.
Of course, Farrant knows drought-proofing crops isn’t a one-stop solution to Africa’s climate problem or even a safeguard against hunger; food security isn’t solely dependent on climate.

Still, she’s confident her work is headed in the right direction. If successful, her research could allow farmers in drought-stricken regions like South Africa to maintain their crops and livelihoods.

Her ultimate goal is to develop at least three extremely drought-tolerant plants before she retires. After that, it will be up to the researchers—and the funding, awareness, and open minds—of the next generation.


Brought to you by We make food & beverage cartons that protect what's good by keeping the food inside them safe and sound. Recyclable and made with renewable materials, every single carton is part of our groundwork for a shared, healthier future. Learn more

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