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SUSTAINABILITY AT TETRA PAK: RECYCLING POST-CONSUMER
CARTONS

Garima Sharma, Indrajeet Ghatge and Chris Laszlo wrote this case solely to provide material for class discussion. The authors do
not intend to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a managerial situation. The authors may have disguised certain
names and other identifying information to protect confidentiality.

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Richard Ivey School of Business Foundation prohibits any form of reproduction, storage or transmission without its written
permission. Reproduction of this material is not covered under authorization by any reproduction rights organization. To order copies
or request permission to reproduce materials, contact Ivey Publishing, Richard Ivey School of Business Foundation, The University
of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada, N6A 3K7; phone (519) 661-3208; fax (519) 661-3882; e-mail cases@ivey.uwo.ca.

Copyright © 2012, Richard Ivey School of Business Foundation Version: 2013-09-30


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Shabbir Shaikh’s dishevelled appearance from putting in a hard day at work did little to hide the ring of
conviction in his voice when he spoke positively and passionately about Tetra Pak’s initiative of
collecting post-consumer cartons (PCCs). Shaikh was a 40-something scrap dealer in Pune, India’s eighth
largest metropolis. Having endured a series of financial losses after an unsuccessful attempt at starting a
manufacturing business, Shaikh entered the scrap material business. He was looking for other
opportunities to supplement his income when an acquaintance led him to partner with Tetra Pak on its
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mission to collect post-consumer Tetra Pak cartons.

Over the years, Shaikh had developed excellent relationships with smaller scrap dealers. Tetra Pak wanted
to leverage his considerably large network to collect post-consumer cartons (PCCs) for recycling. Shaikh
knew that the task would not be easy:

It is difficult to collect Tetra Pak cartons. Out of the hundreds of smaller dealers I know, only
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about 15 agreed to do this because they take me at my word. Collecting Tetra Pak cartons is
difficult for many reasons — these small scrap dealers do not care about the environment. Rather,
they are more concerned about the price they are being paid for their efforts.

Tetra Pak was championing a movement to collect the cartons that it made for its customers, most of
whom were major players in the food and beverages industry. These cartons were waste that was
generated by end-consumers (hence PCCs) who would purchase the products stored within Tetra Pak
containers.
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Tetra Pak’s sales in India had increased dramatically since the time it had started its operations through a
joint venture in 1988 and there was no reason why the business would not flourish in the future. Tetra
Pak’s commitment to the environment was not new. It had been recycling the waste generated during the
manufacturing process at its factories for many years. Despite previous environmental efforts, the
company’s new focus on recycling post-consumer waste was a unique challenge.

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For a company that was essentially in the business-to-business (B2B) segment, devoting resources for

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collecting post-consumer waste was over and above the requirements or expectations of its stakeholders.
This was perhaps the reason why it was not unusual for someone such as Shaikh, with a modest
educational background and modest role as a scrap dealer for Tetra Pak’s recycling program, , to take
cognizance of Tetra Pak’s efforts. “I am doing this for Tetra Pak because after many years I feel I am
dealing with individuals who are professional and sincere about the work they are doing,” confessed

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Shaikh. He was also quick to add that many years ago, people in the waste trade had undermined the
value that used plastic water bottles could offer. By 2010, however, scrap dealers fetched the highest price
yet for these bottles. Shaikh believed that Tetra Pak cartons could also eventually offer similar value to
the scrap dealers, recyclers and businesses that made products out of such recycled material.

Collecting used Tetra Pak cartons was an enormous task in India. It would take the dedication of
innumerable devoted people such as Shaikh for Tetra Pak to collect the cartons that would otherwise
make their way to trash cans and landfills. The problems associated with collecting such waste in India

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were endless. Despite being aware of the difficulties, collecting and recycling post-consumer waste was
on top of Tetra Pak India’s agenda. Moreover, the government was increasingly playing a more active
role in ensuring the environmental responsibility of businesses by defining new guidelines for
manufacturers so that they could properly dispose of packaging products such as plastic bags and multi-
layer packaging. The day could not be far off when manufacturers would be required to address the waste
generated by their packaging. Being a forerunner in this regard could be less expensive than adopting the
changes later. How could Tetra Pak proactively create an environmental program that would not only
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ensure the recycling of its products but also position it as a champion of environmental stewardship?
Given the difficult terrain of a developing world such as India, how could Tetra Pak succeed in its
endeavour?

TETRA PAK IN 2011


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Tetra Pak developed, produced and marketed complete processing, packaging and distribution systems for
foodstuffs. It had expanded its business to include much more than the packaging of beverages. Ice
cream, cheese, dry foods, fruits, vegetables and pet food were examples of products that could be
processed or packaged in Tetra Pak processing and packaging lines.

Tetra Pak offered customers complete processing, packaging and distribution systems for food stuffs.
Equipment included separators, homogenizers and heat exchangers. There were 11 packaging systems
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that catered to different market requirements. Tetra Pak marketed a range of conveyors, tray packers, film
wrappers, roll containers and other distribution equipment. It also offered software services including
factory planning, control and monitoring of plants, computerized logistics studies, training, follow-up
services and marketing assistance. By concentrating its research and development on liquid foodstuffs,
Tetra Pak was able to offer its customers expertise and complete responsibility for entire production lines.

In 2010, Tetra Pak reported annual sales of €9.98 billion.1 At this time, a total of 43 material packaging
plants were serving the packaging needs of more than 170 countries in the world.
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1
“Tetra Pak in Figures,” Tetra Pak, www.tetrapak.com/about_tetra_pak/the_company/facts_and_figures/pages/default.aspx,
accessed April 21, 2012.

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“RENEW, REDUCE, RECYCLE AND BE RESPONSIBLE”: THE PILLARS OF ENVIRONMENTAL

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RESPONSIBILITY AND BUSINESS SUSTAINABILITY2

A package should save more than it costs.


Dr. Ruben Rausing

Tetra Pak experienced many changes throughout its years of operation: it was rechristened on various

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occasions; at times there were members outside the founding family at its helm; the company underwent
several organizational changes through mergers and acquisitions. However, one thing that did not change
was the company’s commitment to the environment.

Tetra Pak’s philosophy, sprouting from Dr. Rausing’s belief in environmental responsibility, was
governed by four ‘Rs’: renew, reduce, recycle and be responsible. For Tetra Pak, sustainable packaging
meant maximizing reliance on renewable sources (renew), reducing energy and materials usage while also

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reducing the carbon footprint (reduce), turning cartons into useful products and resources rather than
letting them go to waste (recycle) and operating in a transparent and honest manner (responsible) (see
Exhibit 1).

RECYCLING OF PCCS
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One of the ways through which Tetra Pak’s commitment to its four tenets of environmental sustainability
were manifest was its post-consumer waste recycling program. The waste generated by Tetra Pak fell into
three categories: 1) factory waste generated at the Tetra Pak factory; 2) filler waste, which was generated
during the manufacturing process at the customer’s plant; 3) PCCs, which was the waste generated after
consuming the product in Tetra Pak’s cartons.

Tetra Pak’s Global Sustainability Report published in 2008/09 described the company’s goal of reaching a
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recycling index of 40 per cent by 2020. The figure in 2010 was close to 20 per cent, with one in every five
packs being recycled. The management at Tetra Pak knew that if it wanted to accomplish its ambitious
recycling index, it was necessary for the company to communicate its intentions globally and expect
every region to work towards that goal in its local landscape.

TETRA PAK IN INDIA: WHY FOCUS ON PCC RECYCLING HERE?


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In 1988, Tetra Pak entered India through a joint venture with the National Dairy Development Board. Its
success in the Indian market led to the opening of two more factories in 2007. In 2009, Tetra Pak sold
almost 24,000 tonnes of cartons in India — 20 per cent more than the number of cartons sold in 2007.

India was the world’s second-largest country (by population), and the average Indian consumer was
increasingly consuming more packaged beverages. The burgeoning educated middle-class population in
India continued to have more disposable income and could afford the food and beverages packed in high-
quality cartons manufactured by Tetra Pak. The demand for packaged drinks in South Asia (including
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India) was expected to grow from 757 million litres in 2010 to 1.3 billion litres in 2013. On World Milk
Day, celebrated on June 1, 2010, it was announced that between 2006 and 2010, milk consumption in

2
Presentation by Tetra Pak India’s Environment Team, India, December 2010.

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India had risen by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.7 per cent, with packaged milk growing

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by a CAGR of 4.7 per cent over the same period.3

Despite the global economic slowdown, Tetra Pak India posted 15 per cent growth in 2009. Estimates
pointed at production crossing the two billion unit mark by late 2010.4Tetra Pak was to invest Rs6 billion
(US$132.3 million) to set up a new facility in India at Chakan (near Pune) to cater to the growing

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domestic and international demand. The Chakan plant would have an annual capacity of 8.5 billion
cartons. It could be further scaled up to 16 billion cartons per year.5

With Tetra Pak’s sales projected to grow with such rapidity, the need and feasibility to recycle PCCs in
India was very high. Jaideep Gokhale, an Environment director at Tetra Pak South Asia Markets and
Cluster Leader Environment, Cluster South and South East Asia, was aware of India’s growing need to
recycle used Tetra Pak cartons. Since his appointment in 2007, he had been charting out a strategy to tap
this unexplored space. Gokhale and his team had an enormous task before them, as waste collection and

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recycling in India had its fair share of problems.

PROBLEMS WITH PCC COLLECTION IN INDIA

Tetra Pak had implemented PCC collection and recycling in some countries. However, those geographies
were different from that of India. The social, economic and political climate in India was also different
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from that of other regions in the world. Therefore, Gokhale knew that a ‘one size fits all’ approach would
not work when it came to PCC collection in India.

WASTE VALUE CHAIN: THE INDIAN CONTEXT

India had a large informal sector for collecting and recycling waste through a multitude of rag-pickers,
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scrap dealers, waste contractors and municipalities. Picking and selling waste was a source of livelihood
for the vast majority of people living in abject poverty in the country. The rag-pickers collected garbage
from the streets, households and commercial establishments. They then separated the dry waste from wet
waste and sold it to scrap dealers. What was not sold was either burned or sent to the landfill, where
scavengers went through this waste to collect anything of value to them. The scrap dealers bought the
waste from individual rag-pickers, sorted the waste again to check if they could find something of value,
and finally flattened the recyclable waste in large bales6 so that it could be sold to the recycler.
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The scrap dealers had their own hierarchy in which smaller scrap dealers sold to the bigger ones.
Municipalities7 were responsible for sanitation and hygiene in each city and specific wards within each
city. They had common collection bins, in which the waste of a particular ward was deposited. Some of
the wards had hand carts that were pushed by individuals who went to apartment buildings or individual
houses to collect waste. Municipalities employed rag-pickers and waste contractors to service particular
wards, and in return allowed the rag-pickers to sort the waste for sieving out what could fetch them a
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3
“Tetra Pak Forecasts Continued Growth in Global Milk Consumption over the Next Three Years,” Food & Beverage News,
www.fnbnews.com/article/print.asp?articleid=25501, accessed April 21, 2012.
4
Priyanka Mehra, “Tetra Pak India Posts 15% y-o-y Growth,” Live Mint, August 27, 2009,
www.livemint.com/2009/08/27110905/Tetra-Pak-India-posts-15-yo.html, accessed May 15, 2012.
5
“Tetra Pak to Set up Packaging Plant at Chakan,” Business Standard, February 10, 2011, www.business-
standard.com/india/news/tetra-pak-to-setpackaging-plant-at-chakan/424558/, accessed May 15, 2012.
6
Baling the waste was an important process. Scrap dealers generally had a small space near a landfill. Maximizing the use
of space by baling (and not holding waste for too long) was critical for dealers to make a profit.
7
Municipalities were local government bodies geared toward providing basic infrastructure and services in cities and towns.

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profit (such as plastic bottles, glass bottles and paper products). These rag-pickers then deposited the

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worthless waste into common dumpsters. The waste in these dumpsters was emptied into municipal
trucks and either incinerated or dumped into the landfills. The rag-pickers also collected litter on the street
(called ‘road sweep’) and sold it to the scrap dealers. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working
in the areas of waste management and the social elevation of the rag-pickers often partnered with
municipalities to convince them to provide decent working conditions to these rag-pickers, who were

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mostly women and children. Some NGOs also collaborated with the municipalities and used their trucks
for the NGO’s waste management efforts, such as sorting waste and recycling.

Waste management efforts in India had caught the eye of the private sector. For example, Ramky Group
was a strong private player that had offered municipal waste management services since 2009.8
Municipalities in certain Indian states had entrusted some of the responsibility of collecting and sorting
waste to private-sector players.

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RECYCLING IN INDIA: AN UPHILL TASK

In India, it was common practice for someone strolling down the street with a beverage in hand to throw
the empty carton on the street. The apathy towards environmental protection was real and evident. Over
time, and due to calamities such as the devastating floods in Mumbai in 2005, people were becoming
more aware of the ramifications of their carelessness towards the environment — but there seemed to be a
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long way to go.

Tetra Pak’s initial steps towards recycling were to target landfills, where its cartons were expected to find
their way. It soon realized that most of these cartons did not reach the landfill. To get to the root of the
problem, Tetra Pak recruited an external waste management consultant that conducted studies to trace the
life of Tetra Pak’s waste. The studies showed that 42 per cent of Tetra Pak cartons were being mixed with
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the road sweep (or mixed waste) and hidden in bales with regular waste that was sold to recyclers. Tetra
Pak’s carton-based packaging was mostly made of paper laminate (75 per cent), while polyethylene and
aluminium foil (also called Polyal) constituted the remaining portion. Paper made the package stiff;
plastic made it liquid-tight; aluminium blocked out light and oxygen. The paper recyclers, who were not
expecting these cartons in the bales, used the paper and rejected the remaining 25 per cent of polyethylene
and aluminium.

The study also found that only 13 per cent of the waste went into landfills, while the remainder was
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burned or unaccounted for. With this information in hand, Tetra Pak’s efforts to increase active
collection9 and recycling gained momentum. The company’s biggest challenge was to establish a
collection and recycling chain.

The volume of waste generated from the consumption of beverages and foodstuffs packed in Tetra Pak’s
cartons was small compared to the other garbage generated in the country. This small volume, however,
did not conceal the fact that Tetra Pak’s cartons were strewn all over the place. Tetra Pak had strong
brand recognition in India, especially in the southern states. One could tell whether a carton lying on the
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street was Tetra Pak’s, and this could be detrimental to its image of being an environmentally friendly
company.

8
http://ramkyenviroengineers.com/MunicipalWaste.html, accessed May 6, 2012.
9
Active collection was different from mixed waste collection, in which Tetra Pak cartons made their way into bales of paper
and other recyclable waste. The scrap dealer then treated these as any other recyclable waste.

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Setting up the waste value chain involved identifying the end-to-end process of recycling, which began

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with the following three steps: segregation at the source (the consumer), collection of the waste and
sorting the waste. To begin with, there were problems in segregation at the consumers’ end. The value of
dry waste was significantly reduced if it was mixed with wet waste. No motivation, incentive or force
operated on the consumers to segregate dry waste from wet waste, which made it less attractive for other
players in the value stream to collect these cartons. Though the government had made regulations for

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consumers to segregate waste at its source, the implementation of such regulations was nearly absent.

Tetra Pak’s cartons were compact, which meant that they could be carried around easily, and hence
thrown anywhere. These cartons generally had the residue of a sweet product, which attracted flies and
rats. This made household and institutional consumers all the more unwilling to segregate and store the
cartons while waiting for them to be collected. It was easier for small businesses and commercial
establishments to simply burn these cartons along with other garbage.

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The difficulties continued at the stage of waste collection. The price offered to the waste collectors was
pivotal in ensuring the collection of waste. Before Tetra Pak’s PCC recycling initiative, the cartons were
sold at the same price as other road sweep. In most cases, the recyclers who bought the road sweep did
not want Tetra Pak cartons because they did not know what to do with them other than burn them and sell
the aluminium ash. Additionally, the machines used by most recyclers could not crush Tetra Pak cartons.
For those recyclers who could extract paper out of the Tetra Pak cartons, the yield was only three-quarters
of the carton (since paper made up 75 per cent of the carton). Thus, rag-pickers or scrap dealers had no
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incentive to collect these. The impassiveness of the waste collectors was evident in these words from a
scrap dealer in Mumbai: “We get no benefit out of collecting and segregating these cartons. We have to
toil too hard for a quantity this small.” 10

A representative of a leading NGO admitted that collecting waste was a very cumbersome task in which
the rag-pickers, most of whom were women, had to put in a lot of physical effort. If they were not paid
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well for their hard work, they would not be willing to go that extra mile to collect these cartons.

Problems continued in the last stage — sorting. Rag-pickers sorted the waste material by hand, looking
for items that could be of value. With no market demand (after disposal) and a low price being offered for
these cartons, rag-pickers were not eager to expend their efforts on separating Tetra Pak cartons from
other waste.

In addition to PCC, filler waste was generated during the filling process at the customers’ end. Though
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the percentage of filler waste recycling was much higher than PCC recycling (almost 50 per cent at the
customers’ end was recycled), few customers were willing to take the extra step to send it to a recycler.
Tetra Pak often encouraged its customers to be environmentally responsible and to adhere to a waste
management protocol. However, an account manager at Tetra Pak described the challenging situation:
“Most customers have other priorities which they believe are far more pressing than environmental
considerations.”

Another challenge was that the average Indian consumer did not expect the product or its manufacturer to
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be environmentally responsible. Gokhale explained:

Our customers’ cartons have limited space. A plethora of information — some statutory [and
some] seen as interesting/necessary to give to consumers — already adorns the packages.

10
Interview with case author.

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Customers don’t want to drown consumers in a sea of messages and would naturally want to

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prioritize what, according to research, is important to consumers, and what is less so.

Many manufacturers preferred burning the cartons rather than sending them for recycling, as they were
concerned about fake products being sold in these cartons. Despite this concern, some of Tetra Pak’s
bigger customers that had well-defined targets for environmental responsibility were willing to engage it

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in managing of their filler waste. If they showed interest, Tetra Pak would connect these customers to its
collection and recycling value chain.

THE PANACEA TO THE PROBLEM

Tetra Pak India’s environmental team adopted a two-pronged approach to address the issue of PCC
recycling: invest in PCC collection efforts and generate awareness concerning recycling. These

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approaches were not independent of each other. Gokhale and his team knew that in order to succeed in
their endeavours, it was critical for them to form a strong nexus of recyclers, garbage collectors, scrap
dealers and possibly NGOs. The collaborative efforts of these stakeholders could enable Tetra Pak to
reach its goal of recycling PCC in India.

Some of the partnerships that Tetra Pak India developed played a vital role in defining the success of its
PCC recycling initiative (see Exhibit 2). Forming successful partnerships with recyclers, scrap-dealers,
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NGOs and waste collectors was not enough for Tetra Pak to accomplish its mission of collecting and
recycling PCCs. Ultimately, the success of the PCC recycling project depended largely on whether the
consumers (the end—users) of Tetra Pak’s cartons were aware of how they could help Tetra Pak in its
goal.

In order to raise awareness about its PCC recycling program and the perils of climate change and
environmental degradation, Tetra Pak had been publishing sustainability reports, distributing pamphlets
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describing simple methods of efficient waste management and delivering lectures and seminars at schools
and corporations. However, it knew that it had to work in tandem with NGOs to run awareness campaigns
concerning its PCC recycling program in order to attain far-reaching success. Two of Tetra Pak’s most
successful awareness campaigns were driven by R U Recycling (RUR) and The Energy and Resources
Institute (TERI) (see Exhibit 3).
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FROM TRASH TO CASH: WHO BENEFITTED THE MOST FROM TETRA PAK’S PCC RECYCLING
INITIATIVE?

There were many beneficiaries of Tetra Pak’s PCC recycling program. United Spirits Limited (USL) was
the largest spirits manufacturer in India, and among the world’s three largest liquor companies. The
company had 17 “millionaire brands” in its portfolio. 11 Even in a country like India, where there was a
certain taboo associated with alcohol consumption, the demand for alcohol was on the rise. USL had tied
up with Tetra Pak to sell liquor in Tetra Pak cartons. One of the reasons for this partnership was that Tetra
Pak cartons could not be refilled, thereby eliminating the fear of an inferior product being sold under
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USL’s name. Such practices were possible with beer sold in glass bottles, for example.

11
Boby Kurian, “USL to Invest Rs600cr in Glass Plants,” The Times of India, March 21, 2011,
http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-03-21/india-business/29170728_1_usl-glass-bottles-glass-industry,
accessed April 28, 2012.

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USL benefitted from collaboration with Tetra Pak since it was able to sell its factory waste (filler waste)

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to the recycler. The senior vice-president of Operations at USLIndia commented:

We asked Tetra Pak what we could do with the filler waste generated by Tetra Pak’s cartons for
products at our factory since our regular channels of waste disposal could not handle this kind of
packaging. Tetra Pak responded without any delay, and got an NGO to collect the filler waste

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from our factory and send it to its recycler.

USL was buying the recycled roof sheets from Tetra Pak’s recycler, Daman Ganga. These sheets, which
cost less than asbestos sheets, were helping the air compressor dryer rooms at USL’s factories in India to
stay cooler. As an additional benefit, USL could promote itself as being environmentally conscious by
reducing its dependence on asbestos sheets. USL’s parent company, United Breweries (UB), owned a
Formula 1 Racing team and an Indian Premier League cricket team, the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
These teams and USL were using recycled paper and tissues manufactured by Daman Ganga. This was a

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way for USL to position itself as a responsible company, especially when most of its target market
comprised young and educated people who were increasingly becoming environmentally conscious.

Daman Ganga Paper Mills’ Tushar Shah was very pleased with the partnership with Tetra Pak because he
was manufacturing more than 8,000 roofing sheets per month made from recycled paper, polyethylene
and aluminium obtained from Tetra Pak’s cartons.12 These sheets were sold to factories and farmlands
across India. A few years prior to the partnership, Shah’s factory had almost shut down because he did not
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have a steady supply of waste to recycle. Daman Ganga was making a profit from its association with
Tetra Pak and other players in Tetra Pak’s network. Shah was saving money on raw materials, water and
electricity. He was also producing recycled paper that required a quarter of the electricity needed to
produce normal paper, and only 10,000 litres of water (as opposed to 50,000 litres of water required to
manufacture a tonne of normal paper).13 He was getting a good return on investment as there was a lot of
demand for recycled paper and tissues.
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Tetra Pak also supported NGOs such as Stree Mukti Sanghatan and Saahas by providing balers and other
equipment.14 Liasions and employees working for NGOs were paid well for their efforts. More
importantly, Tetra Pak’s support helped these NGOs to meet their organizational goals.

The PCC recycling initiative had given a new lease of life to scrap dealers like Shabbir Shaikh. He was
buying Tetra Pak cartons from waste collectors for about Rs3 to Rs4 per kilogram. Had it not been for
Tetra Pak’s PCC recycling initiative, the waste collectors would have only received Rs2 per kilogram
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(irrespective of whether the waste contained Tetra Pak cartons). This price increase was possible because
Shaikh was able to sell those cartons to Daman Ganga for around Rs9 per kilogram.15 With further
evolution in its technology, Daman Ganga was eventually able to offer a more competitive rate of Rs12
per kilogram.

Retail giant Reliance Retail had acquired Sahakari Bhandar for a large sum of money.16 The model of
collaboration between Sahakari Bhandar and RUR was successful (see Exhibit 2), and could be applied
12
Article in Down to Earth — magazine of centre for Science and Environment (editor: Sunita Narain, issue Oct 31, 2005)
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www.downtoearth.org.in/node/10311, accessed May 15, 2011.


13
Article in Down to Earth — magazine of centre for Science and Environment (editor: Sunita Narain, issue July 15, 2010)
www.downtoearth.org.in/node/1474 accessed May 15, 2011.
14
Tetra Pak’s waste collection efforts were further aided by partners such as Development Links Foundation, Indian
Pollution Control Association, Bal Vikas Dhara, Chintan, Harit Recyclers Association in Delhi, Win Handicrafts in
Chandigarh, Mountain Cleaners in Dharamshala and Clinton Vaz (individual) in Goa.
15
Interview with Shaikh in Pune, December 2010.
16
Sindhu Bhattacharya, “Reliance Retail in Acquiring Mode,” Daily News & Analysis, May 5, 2006,
www.dnaindia.com/money/report_reliance-retail-in-acquiring-mode_1027956, accessed May 8, 2012.

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across different parts of India by retail outlets and NGOs in those places. In fact, taking a cue from its

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success with Sahakari Bhandar, Tetra Pak had tied up with Nilgiri’s (a retail chain similar to Sahakari
Bhandar) in Bangalore. It had already installed collection bins at several Nilgiri’s outlets in Bangalore.

From a broader perspective, Tetra Pak’s PCC recycling initiative was a step towards improving the living
environment of the Indian population, including that of the rag-pickers. By creating a waste management
chain to recycle its cartons, Tetra Pak was offering a cleaner environment and opportunities for better

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livelihoods.

Gokhale and his team were happy because their strategy of increasing the volume of recycled PCCs had
led to significant increases in PCC collection between 2007 and 2010 (see Exhibit 4).

HOW COULD TETRA PAK BENEFIT FROM PCC RECYCLING IN THE FUTURE?

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Despite the early success, a quintessential question remained: How could Tetra Pak sustain and continue
to build on its success in order to benefit from its environmental agenda?

“First Mover” Advantage


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On February 4, 2011, the Ministry of Environment and Forests, led by the erudite politician Jairam
Ramesh, released a notification stating that plastics and multi-layer packaging companies were required to
adopt Extended Producer’s Responsibility (EPR) and follow the guidelines specified by the ministry.17
The EPR was a rule that made the producer accountable for the entire lifecycle of its product. Therefore,
despite being a B2B company, Tetra Pak’s responsibility did not end at selling products to its customers.
Companies that fell under the same category as Tetra Pak would have to bear additional operational costs
while trying to adhere to the government’s guidelines. Gokhale and his team had embarked on the PCC
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recycling project in 2007. By anticipating a rule such as EPR, Tetra Pak India’s advanced preparedness
(starting from 2007) could act as a cushion against costly measures that other companies in the same
league as Tetra Pak would have to bear in the near future. But what would Tetra Pak have to do next?

Enhanced Brand Value and Reputation


No

With increased awareness and education, people in India were becoming increasingly environmentally
conscious. In the future they would think twice before buying a product made by a company whose name
was tarnished. An environmentally responsible company would be perceived in a positive light. Tetra Pak
enjoyed the reputation of an industry leader in environmental responsibility18. The successful planning
and implementation of initiatives such as PCC recycling could improve this image that the company had
created since its early days.

Tax Benefits
Do

It was found that the cartons manufactured by Tetra Pak had the lowest carbon footprint among plastic
bottles, glass bottles, aluminium cans and steel beverage cans. In the Netherlands, where Tetra Pak had a
17
Aditi Guha, “Managing e-waste; India poised for EPR?” The Economic Times, July 7, 2010,
http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2010-07-07/news/27573042_1_e-waste-basel-action-network-disposal,
accessed May 15, 2012.
18
www.tetrapak.com/environment/Pages/default.aspx, accessed June 28, 2012.

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Page 10 9B12M069

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significant presence, the government levied a carbon tax on every 1,000 packs sold. Tetra Pak had to pay

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the least amount of tax (see Exhibit 5).

The decision to levy a carbon tax on packaged products in India was still being discussed.19 With EPR
guidelines already released, the time from which companies would have to start paying carbon tax would
not be far off.

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CONCLUSION: CHALLENGES AHEAD AND THE WAY FORWARD

The environmental strategy team at Tetra Pak India achieved early success with its PCC recycling
program. Despite the success, there were many challenges that still needed to be addressed. Daman Ganga
Paper Mills had the capacity to recycle 100 tonnes of used cartons on a daily basis. However, on average
it was recycling only 10 tonnes of PCC waste per day. What could Tetra Pak do to increase the input to

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Shah’s recycling plant?

Was it too risky to rely on just one recycler? Tetra Pak had been toying with the idea of collaborating with
another recycler in Bangalore. To justify the efforts of collaborating with another recycler, Tetra Pak had
given Saahas (its NGO partner in Bangalore) a target of 30 tonnes of collection per month, which Saahas
thought it would soon reach. How could Tetra Pak develop a recycler closer to its operations and
therefore help Saahas? Transporting waste from the northern parts of India to western regions, where the
current recycler operated, was proving to be very expensive. In June 2011, Tetra Pak signed an agreement
op
with Rama Paper Mills, a recycler in the northern part of India, to recycle PCC originating from that part
of the country.20 Would partnering with other recyclers in India sour the relationship that Tetra Pak shared
with one of its first partners, Daman Ganga Paper Mills? How could it maintain the existing relationship
while nurturing newer ones?

Tetra Pak was redefining its role in its partnership with Shah (and others in the network) from being
tC

involved in the day-to-day transactions to focusing on creating awareness. How could Tetra Pak further
define this new role in its partnership with Shah and create similar synergies with its new recycling
partnerships?

Tetra Pak had begun with a vertical model of including the key players in the waste trade by collaborating
with different NGOs (which in turn reached out to the waste trade). It was moving to a more horizontal
model of working with different partners, which included scrap dealers such as Shaikh who could directly
No

collect PCC for Tetra Pak. How could Tetra Pak manage its diverse set of relationships in which it was
leveraging the strengths of each of its partners?

Did Tetra Pak need to play a bigger role in bringing about social change? How could Tetra Pak’s
influence ensure better working conditions for rag-pickers? What could Tetra Pak do to ensure that the
success it had achieved would be sustained?

Gokhale and his team sat in his office and pondered such questions, the immediate answers of which he
did not know. One thing that he definitely knew was where the beverage carton in his hand would end up.
Do

19
Nitin Sethi, “India to be Hit with Carbon Tax?” The Times of India, June 30, 2009,
http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2009-06-30/india/28210214_1_carbon-tax-emissions-climate-change, accessed
April 21, 2012.
20
Information obtained from Tetra Pak India officials in August 2011.

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Exhibit 1

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THE FOUR RS

Renew

Tetra Pak favored renewable resources, since they could be grown again after being sourced. Focus on renewable

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resources ensured that natural resources did not deplete. Tetra Pak’s cartons were primarily made from wood fibres,
but the company did not own the forests from which it sourced, nor did it manufacture paper. To ensure sound forest-
management practices, it had an engaged approach to sourcing and worked closely with suppliers, non-
governmental organizations and other stakeholders across the globe. Tetra Pak’s ultimate goal was to ensure that
the wood fibre used in its packaging came from responsibly managed forests certified to the highest standards,
currently set by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).21 In 2010, Tetra Pak produced 14 billion packs that were FSC-
labelled.

The company also made an agreement with the largest Brazilian petrochemical company, Braskem SA, to purchase

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22
limited volumes of high density polyethylene (HDPE) derived entirely from renewable feedstock. The agreement
represented the first move towards using green polyethylene in the business of carton packaging.

Reduce

The technological advancements in the packaging systems manufactured and supplied by Tetra Pak resulted in an
80 per cent reduction in kilowatts of electricity required to produce 1,000 cartons.23 Moreover, the Tetra Pak A1
machine that had gained popularity since its introduction at the start of the millennium now needed less than 10 litres
op
of water to manufacture a thousand cartons. This was in stark contrast to the TBA/3 packaging machine, first
developed in 1973, which required more than 200 litres of water while manufacturing 1,000 cartons. Tetra Pak
cartons were also known to emit the lowest levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in grams/litre.

Recycle
tC

More than 27 billion cartons were recycled globally by Tetra Pak in 2010. This figure constituted nearly 20 per cent of
the total number of packages produced by Tetra Pak. It also marked a 73 per cent increase in the rate of recycling
since 2002. Almost 50 per cent of the filler waste at the factories in the South Asian markets was recycled by the end
of 2010. However, Tetra Pak’s ambitious plans were to recycle all PCCs.

Responsible

Tetra Pak showcased responsibility by running several awareness campaigns that revolved around recycling and
No

keeping the environment clean. Its associations with organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund were well-known.
By 2010, most cartons produced by Tetra Pak India had the Mobius Loop printed on them, thereby communicating
that Tetra Pak cartons carrying this symbol should be recycled.

Source: Presentation by Tetra Pak India’s Environment Team, India, December 2010, Mumbai.
Do

21
Forest Stewardship Council, www.fsc.org/principles-and-criteria.34.htm, accessed June 27, 2012.
22
“Tetra Pak and Braskem Sign Agreement to Pilot Green Plastic in Carton Packaging,” Tetra Pak, November 25, 2009,
www.tetrapak.com/about_tetra_pak/press_room/news/Pages/TetraPakandBraskem.aspx, accessed May 8, 2012.
23
Company data provided under Environment, Tetra Pak — External by Jaideep Gokhale, 2010.

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Exhibit 2

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PARTNERS AND COLLABORATORS IN THE PCC PROGRAM

Daman Ganga Paper (Board) Mills — Recycler

At the outset, finding a recycler that was willing to recycle Tetra Pak cartons was crucial. In 2004, the Environment

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director who was at the helm when the initiative was conceptualized approached his acquaintance Tushar Shah.
Shah had entered the recycling business in 2004. His father had been in this business for more than 25 years. Shah
had opened a new paper recycling facility in Vapi, Gujarat. He did not find much success and had to eventually shut
his factory down. He had the infrastructure in place to take up new orders for recycling paper. The team at Tetra Pak
wanted a partner like Shah who had expertise in recycling paper and related products.

Shah’s recycling activities were not just confined to cartons: he had a zero discharge unit. It used recycled effluents
and runoff rainwater from adjacent fields to minimize pressure on groundwater resources. The treated water was
stored and used throughout the year. Tetra Pak was glad to have found a partner who was committed to the

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environment.

Together, Tetra Pak India and Daman Ganga chalked out an arrangement to convert Tetra Pak’s cartons into
recycled paper products. They had to liaise with waste collectors, scrap dealers and NGOs to ensure a steady supply
of waste to the recycling plant.

Initially, Daman Ganga employed a traditional recycling technology wherein paper from the cartons was recovered by
swirling the cartons in liquid (hydra pulping).The fibres absorbed the water and became part of a slurry, while plastic
and aluminium floated to the surface. The recovered fibre would then be recycled to make recycled paper and paper
op
products. Given that paper formed 75 per cent of the carton, the remaining 25 per cent (five per cent aluminium and
20 per cent polyethylene) was filtered off, resulting in value extraction of only 75 per cent of the available product.
Because of this, Shah was not able to offer a competitive price to the seller of the waste. Tetra Pak, therefore,
stepped in and made a commitment to bear some of the cost by offering a relatively better price to the waste seller.

Tetra Pak supported Shah in his efforts at process innovation. He eventually found a way to use the aluminium and
polyethylene in manufacturing panel boards, furniture and roofing sheets. Subsequently, Shah’s recycling facility
tC

evolved to manufacture different products using the pulp instead of selling it to another manufacturer. He was able to
effectively market these products and create a demand for them. Tetra Pak also helped Shah by connecting him to
the contacts and resources available in its overseas locations as well as a few of its customers who were willing to
use these recycled products.

As Tetra Pak discounted some of the rate that Shah offered to the waste collector, this expenditure raised the
question of the arrangement’s sustainability. Moreover, satiating the appetite of the recycler was not easy. Daman
Ganga Paper Mills had much more capacity to recycle waste than the amount that was being collected.
No

Stree Mukti Sanghatan (SMS) — NGO

Building on the parent company’s approach and experience in other regions of the world, Tetra Pak India realized
that partnerships with NGOs would be an effective way to increase collection and promote awareness. NGOs that
worked in the areas of solid waste management with the waste trade and social upliftment of women rag-pickers
were ideal choices. It was believed that such NGOs would have access to hundreds of households through domestic
maids who work in these households. Additionally, such NGOs had an existing infrastructure for sensitizing the
consumers about recycling.

With this in mind, Tetra Pak engaged in a discussion with SMS after one of Tetra Pak’s representatives witnessed a
Do

presentation delivered by SMS at a conference. Focused primarily on women’s issues of equality and development,
this organization worked with women rag-pickers in Mumbai. These women were oppressed at many levels by the
scrap dealers who often paid them little for their work. Tetra Pak approached SMS and offered it support to collect
Tetra Pak cartons. A clear understanding was delineated between SMS and Tetra Pak. To begin with, SMS
encouraged the rag-pickers to collect Tetra Pak cartons. It also convinced the scrap dealers to collect and segregate
these cartons from the other waste that they bought. The scrap dealers then sent the waste to Shah’s recycling
facility in Vapi. Shah paid the scrap dealers a competitive price, some of which was borne by Tetra Pak. As part of
the agreement, Tetra Pak provided SMS with waste collection bins installed at different places in Mumbai and a truck

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Exhibit 2 (continued)

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to collect and send the waste to the recycler. By the end of 2010, SMS had started an awareness campaign to
educate rag-pickers and scrap dealers of the value that existed in the collection of Tetra Pak’s PCCs.

Although Tetra Pak had a seemingly impeccable arrangement in place, it soon realized that the plan did not translate
into increased collection. Gokhale commented:

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We realized over time that households do not generate significant Tetra Pak waste. So, the strategy of
targeting individual households through the rag-pickers was not the most effective. Additionally, SMS’s
collection efforts were not keeping pace with Mumbai’s changing consumption patterns. This was because
at that time they did not have significant reach into the waste trade (working with scrap dealers). To achieve
Tetra Pak’s collection goals, there was a need to increase the depth of working with the waste trade and
reach out to the scrap dealers.

To increase the focus, Tetra Pak appointed a volunteer who had been working with SMS. The expectation from the

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volunteer was that she would increase awareness in schools and the community at large that Tetra Pak cartons were
recyclable and that they should be recycled. Furthermore, the sources of collection were redefined and were to
include commercial establishments and institutions where these cartons were found in greater numbers. The
volunteer’s role included speaking to authorities at railway stations and airports, as well as owners of restaurants, and
convincing them to install Tetra Pak collection bins. These bins were to be regularly emptied by SMS. The volunteer
was responsible for monitoring the collection at these bins. She also visited the areas near the landfills where small
scrap dealers worked and persuaded them to segregate and sell Tetra Pak cartons to SMS, who would then send
them to Shah’s facility for recycling.
op
Saahas (Bangalore) — NGO

Tetra Pak’s partnership with Saahas, an NGO in Bangalore, took off successfully right from the beginning. The most
important facet of this relationship was the initiative and responsiveness of both partners. Tetra Pak’s assistance to
Saahas was pivotal in delivering results. The NGO’s founder and director discussed the relationship:

We called Tetra Pak asking them what should we do with the waste we have collected. They responded
tC

immediately. Most companies think that their responsibility is limited to providing funds for such activities so
that they can showcase their engagement. Tetra Pak, however, works with us hand in hand. They have
been in the field; they know the realities and challenges and are willing to help us overcome them.

Saahas’ mission was to find solutions to the solid waste management in the city. Its ultimate goal was a ‘zero-waste
Bangalore.’ The NGO abided by the rules and guidelines provided by the Government of India concerning solid waste
management. It engaged businesses, housing societies and commercial establishments in its efforts to convince
people to reduce, reuse and recycle their waste.
No

Gokhale attributed the success of the partnership to the manner in which Saahas was run. He described it thus:
“Even though Saahas is an NGO, its director approaches this as a business with high professionalism and concern
for deliverables.” Saahas expressed the need for infrastructure to increase collections and Tetra Pak provided a
hydraulic baler, salaries for Saahas employees working on this project and other sponsorships for workshops and
conferences. Saahas’ awareness efforts were similar to those undertaken by SMS.

Despite the promising plan, the organization faced operational challenges such as a high attrition rate of employees
and a lack of infrastructure for garbage collection. Additionally, the transport costs were very high. At times, the
organization felt frustrated with the lack of co-operation from the scrap dealer’s end.
Do

R U Recycling— NGO

Tetra Pak’s partnership with a Mumbai-based NGO, R U Recycling (RUR), was yet another example of a successful
tie-up from which Tetra Pak’s PCC recycling program benefitted. RUR was an NGO founded by a group of six young
women who were driven by a concern for the environment in which their children would grow. The commitment of
RUR’s founder members was apparent since they had all given up successful jobs to start this NGO. The
organization started off by convincing women in individual households to give up the use of plastic bags and to start

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Exhibit 2 (continued)

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composting leftover food. Later, it expanded into the broader realm of commercial establishments. It convinced
Sahakari Bhandar, a huge retail chain in Mumbai, to promote the use of cloth bags among customers, thereby
reducing the usage of plastic bags. Although a little hesitant in the beginning, the owner of the retail chain trusted his
instincts and agreed to co-operate. RUR asked him to give discounts to customers who carried a cloth bag with them
and penalize those who asked for plastic bags. In India, an initiative of this kind was unheard of. RUR took it upon
itself to impart training to the stores’ workers. It leveraged the loyal customer base at Sahakari Bhandar and was able

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to save almost Rs80 lakhs (approximately US$178,000) for the supermarket chain.24

One of the founders of RUR met Gokhale through Shah, the recycler in Vapi. She proposed leveraging the retail
market’s success to convince the chain to set up Tetra Pak’s collection bins at its stores. In return, Tetra Pak would
sponsor the products manufactured by Shah and distribute them as gifts to consumers who diligently threw Tetra Pak
cartons in these bins. The supermarket chain agreed to this arrangement and Tetra Pak collection bins were installed
at several stores in Mumbai. The waste from these bins was collected by SMS every two weeks and sent to the
recycler in Vapi.

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Source: Data gathered from various executives at Tetra Pak including Jaideep Gokhale and Amrita Choudhary and through
interviews with people associated with various NGOs (January, 2011).

Exhibit 3

AWARENESS CAMPAIGNS
op
Awareness Campaign with RUR

RUR, fresh from its success with the loyalty points program with Sahakari Bhandar, wanted to offer a “cash back for
loyalty points accrued” scheme, thereby reducing Tetra Pak’s expenditure on offering gifts to responsible consumers
who brought back used Tetra Pak cartons. Tetra Pak had already spent Rs850,000 (approximately US$20,000) in
offering such gifts. But what was even more important for RUR and Tetra Pak was to ensure that consumers
continued dropping used Tetra Pak cartons in the collection bins even after Tetra Pak stopped offering gifts for doing
tC

so. It was important to not only offer incentives to consumers, but also to educate them about the consequences of a
lack of concern for the environment.

Like Tetra Pak’s other partners, RUR worked to spread the word for Tetra Pak in schools, workshops and seminars
organized as a part of its campaign for encouraging “green” homes. Tetra Pak was pleased with RURs efforts and
wanted such awareness campaigns to become visible nationwide.
No

Awareness campaign with TERI25

A successful awareness drive in collaboration with The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) was another feather in
Tetra Pak’s hat. TERI was a non-profit, and its mission was to find solutions to global problems related to energy, the
environment and sustainable development. With a research-oriented approach to solving global issues, such as
depletion of non-renewable resources, TERI focused on grassroots efforts targeted at sensitizing and creating
awareness concerning environmental issues. TERI’s collaboration with Tetra Pak was called Project SEARCH
(Sensitization, Education and Awareness on Recycling for Cleaner Habitat). The project’s goal was to instil good
waste management practices among students and teachers in schools and to extend that message to the entire
community. Amrita Choudhary, Environment coordinator and a part of Tetra Pak India’s Environment team,
commented:
Do

When we started working with TERI, we wanted to sensitize kids about good waste management skills and
we wanted them to know that the need of the hour is to work towards a sustainable environment. We know

24
Interview with founder of RUR and trip to Sahakari Bhandar store in Mumbai, January 2011.
25
TERI’s director general, R. K. Pachauri, had shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 with former U.S. Vice-president Al
Gore.

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Exhibit 3 (continued)

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that our work is a ‘drop in the ocean’ — but we know it is necessary; partnerships with organizations such as
TERI are absolutely crucial for us to spread awareness about recycling post-consumer waste in India.

The first phase of the project began with 60 schools in Delhi and Bangalore, and the second phase was targeted at
another 100 schools in these cities. Project SEARCH also reached out to schools in Mumbai and Chandigarh, thus
covering 100,000 children in four cities.26 Its ambitious plan to reach out to 200,000 students at 200 schools, starting

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in September 2011, included schools in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Tetra Pak’s motivation to focus on children in its efforts
to create awareness was described by one of Project SEARCH’s coordinators:

Our awareness campaign is directed towards school children mainly because children are the biggest
consumers of products that are available in Tetra Pak cartons. Moreover, through these children, we are
reaching their parents and the community at large.

Another representative provided an interesting description of the alignment of TERI’s goals with those of Tetra Pak:

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We are not fuelling consumerism. We are not asking people to buy more products packed in Tetra Pak
cartons. All we are saying is that if you are buying packaged products, you need to be wise and buy what is
100 per cent recyclable. And Tetra Pak’s cartons are 100 per cent recyclable!

Source: Data gathered from various executives at Tetra Pak including Jaideep Gokhale and Amrita Choudhary and through
interviews with people associated with various NGOs (December 2010).

Exhibit 4
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SUCCESS OF PCC RECYCLING OVER TIME

Tons of
waste
tC

recycled
over time
No

Source: Company data provided under Environment, Tetra Pak — External by Jaideep Gokhale, 2010.
Do

26
“TERI and Tetra Pak Launch Project SEARCH Phase II,” PRLOG, July 27, 2010, www.prlog.org/10819532-teri-and-tetra-
pak-launch-project-search-phase-ii.html, accessed April 28, 2012.

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Exhibit 5

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AMOUNT OF TAX LEVIED ON DIFFERENT STORAGE PRODUCTS IN THE NETHERLANDS (2007)

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Source: Company data provided under Environment, Tetra Pak — External by Jaideep Gokhale, 2010.
op
tC
No
Do

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