Tetra Pak report outlines importance of decarbonising UK food systems in reaching net zero

Tetra Pak has launched a new report outlining the importance of decarbonising UK and Irish food systems for businesses and consumers as we look towards net zero.

It has found that more than a third (36%) of senior decision makers in the food and beverage industry consider the pursuit of sustainable packaging important, yet 41% are hindered by ongoing disruption to supply chains.

The research also highlights growing consumer support for companies committing to lowering their carbon footprint, with 64% valuing efforts made to reduce waste when disposing of a carton, and over half (60%) remaining concerned about the impact of food and drink packaging on waste management.

At a time when global food and energy supply chains face mounting pressure, the research from Tetra Pak reveals businesses and consumers are determined not to lose sight of net zero ambitions, particularly those that can be achieved through the decarbonisation of food systems.

Recognising the need to embrace more sustainable methods of food production and consumption, while reducing food waste and loss throughout the system, a quarter (24%) still believe sustainability should be their organisation’s top priority in 2023.

These findings come as efforts to foster better development of sustainable and innovative solutions gain momentum across Europe, with ambitions to reduce the generation of packaging waste by making all packaging, recyclable and reusable by 2030.

For consumer support to continue gaining pace, Tetra Pak says an effective new approach to feeding growing populations will be heavily reliant on consumer engagement and behaviour in 2023 and beyond. In a separate study commissioned by Tetra Pak, consumers in the UK and Ireland have high levels of support for companies demonstrating a commitment to lowering their carbon footprints and offering sustainable packaging options.

  • 64% stated they value efforts made to reduce waste when disposing of a carton
    63% place importance on packaging choices made for designing cartons that help mitigate climate change
    60% have concerns about how food/drink packaging choices impact waste management.

Interestingly, over two thirds (70%) also now believe packaging companies have a responsibility to the public to create and develop sustainable packaging, with over a third believing strongly so. Such high levels of support are a clear indication that decisive action must be taken swiftly to address the ways food and drink are currently produced, consumed, packaged and disposed of.

The drive towards a circular economy has seen the UK Government lending support where possible, taking strides to transform the farm to fork pathway with leading sustainability initiatives alongside efforts being pursued by producers within the food and drink industry. However, to be as effective as possible, these require close collaboration between policymakers, industry, and consumers, Tetra Pak concludes.

Almost a third (30%) of food and beverage managers, directors and business owners surveyed by Tetra Pak believe the topics of sustainability and climate change can only be meaningfully addressed with cross-sector collaboration and support from policy makers. This sentiment is echoed by consumers, with over half (56%) stating the UK Government should do more in the next 12 months to raise awareness of sustainability issues and recycling processes amongst the general public.

Alex Henriksen, managing director North Europe, Tetra Pak, says the food and beverage industry faces an unprecedented set of evolving challenges in the year ahead.

“It is therefore encouraging to see that despite such pressures, businesses and consumers alike remain determined to focus on the decarbonisation of food systems.Our research demonstrates that consumers are placing increased importance on sustainable packaging and want to understand how the food and beverage sector is helping to mitigate the effects of climate change. It is essential that decisive action is taken to ensure ambitions are met, and that the necessary support is put in place to achieve a circular economy. No single solution will lead to the decarbonisation of our food systems today, but through collaboration across the UK Government and industry, and with the consumer at the heart of decision making, finding a range of practical and effective solutions will be far simpler.

“At Tetra Pak, through continued innovation, we have created a reality of not only being able to replace or reduce our consumption of foods which have higher carbon impacts, but being able to package these in a way that embraces renewable, low carbon materials. We must pursue these opportunities with accelerated determination to make the vital gains that our planet needs. We remain committed to helping our customers achieve their sustainability goals, and look forward to continuing to work together with governments and industry to drive meaningful change and pursue a more sustainable future.”

To explore these research findings in greater depth, Tetra Pak convened a group of experts from across the food and drink value chain to discuss recommendations, solutions and strategies to support greater decarbonisation of current food systems. An overview of that discussion and the conclusions reached can be found here.


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