Tetra Pak has partnered with JunkNot to create furniture from used beverage cartons.

16 June 2021

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — While world leading food processing and packaging solutions company Tetra Pak is known for its focus on food safety, it is also caring for the environment by pursuing inroads towards a stronger circular economy.

Repurposing trash is a popular way to make an impact. In the Philippines, more businesses are making products from recycled materials as a way to bring their environmentally-friendly practices to the forefront.

The trend mirrors increased desire among consumers to help care for the planet. According to Tetra Pak Managing Director of Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and Indonesia (MSPI), Michael Wu, “Consumers care more about the environment now. Environmental problems are more palpable now than 10 or 15 years ago.”

In 2020, Tetra Pak’s initiatives included working with social enterprises, waste collection partners and recyclers to produce durable materials from used beverage cartons.

JunkNot’s first collection, “Araling Mesa at Upuan (Study Table and Chair)”, features pieces entirely made from recycled materials. The table and chair set used reclaimed wood pallets, five kilos of used beverage cartons and half a kilo of plastic waste.

“I am inspired to incorporate used beverage cartons boards in my design. Instead of incinerating our waste or it ending up in the ocean or in a landfill, with this upcycling solution, we can keep waste at home in a functional way,” shared JunkNot Founder Willie Garcia.

Garcia added that the pieces are reflective of the growing interior design trend to use recycled materials in furniture production. She is looking forward to creating more pieces from used beverage cartons.

While JunkNot creates pieces to furnish the home, Rural Industrial Corporation based in Bulacan, recycles used beverage cartons to create PolyAl Pro boards that can be used to construct wall partitions in homes and offices, cabinets, ceilings, counters for food stalls, signages, artwork and even heavy-duty truck beds. Partnering with distributors in Davao, the Davao Southern Metal Enterprise and in Tacloban with DJ Concrete Solutions; Rural Industrial offers eco-friendly alternatives to wood and cement boards. The PolyAl Pro boards are versatile, durable and smooth-faced, composed of 70% polyethylene, 25% aluminium foil and 5% mixed plastic waste.

Tetra Pak has also rolled out initiatives to engage consumers directly.

Project ReBins, which encourages consumers to drop off their Used Beverage Cartons (UBCs), has drop-off booths in key retail areas in Metro Manila. Last year, as movement restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 came into effect, Tetra Pak partnered with leading FMCG brand Nestlé Philippines. Following Nestlé’s achievement of plastic neutrality last year, it continues to engage in efforts that tackle plastic waste. DMCI Homes is also another partner that helps bring Project ReBins to the doorstep of its customers.

The effort helped repurpose a total of 100,000 packs (1 tonne) of UBCs collected from 20 DMCI condominium properties or over 13,500 households across Metro Manila. Through the efforts of the residents and the support of Nestle Philippines, Tetra Pak was able to provide beneficiaries of CRIBS Foundation with a Noche Buena dinner. CRIBS is a non-profit organization that provides a loving and safe environment for abandoned, neglected, and surrendered babies as well as female minor survivors of sexual abuse.

Expansion in the Works

True to its commitment to scaling up sustainability efforts and upping recycling rates in the Philippines, Tetra Pak is looking for more ways to expand the project with DMCI. Currently, a total of 1.3 tons of UBCs have been collected.

Tetra Pak is also working on creating sustainable packaging made solely from plant-based materials that are fully renewable, fully recyclable and carbon-neutral.