In 2010, the partnership between Lucart and Tetra Pak® led to the creation of Fiberpack®, a virtuous and award-winning project that represents the evolution of paper, combining environmental sustainability and technological innovation. Fiberpack® is a material obtained by recovering the cellulose fibres present in Tetra Pak® type beverage cartons. It is possible to obtain 74% cellulose fibres from just one of these containers, in addition to 22% polyethylene and 4% aluminium, recovering 100% of the components.
In just four years, 2013-2016, the Fiberpack® project has brought great results:
• over 2.8 billion 1 litre beverage cartons which, if laid next to each other, would equate to a distance going around the Earth 16 times
• more than 1.2 million trees saved thanks to this initiative, a value equal to more than 4,200 football fields
• more than 73,000 tons of CO2 which is equivalent to the emissions produced by more than 578,000 car trips from Rome to Milan
“Fiberpack® is the project that best represents our group’s two objectives: environmental sustainability and technological innovation” stated Guido Pasquini, Commercial Director of the Lucart Group. “We decided to commit to adopting plans for sustainable development, respecting the environment and the welfare of the people. To do this, we conceived of a true circular economic model for paper, which has enabled us to achieve significant results in just four years. We will continue to pursue this commitment with great responsibility, and we have set ourselves the goal of doubling what we managed to achieve in 2016 by 2020, reaching the point of recovering one and a half billion beverage cartons per year”.
“At our company, environmental awareness passes through an analysis of the entire life cycle of the containers, from the choice of raw materials, which are mainly renewable, to the design and the post-consumer management” declared Michele Mastrobuono, Director of Environment and External Relations for Tetra Pak – “Fiberpack® is a testament of this commitment. Our commitment comes from sharing our environmental, social and ethical with our partners throughout the entire supply chain”.
How Fiberpack® is made
The starting point is recycling. These containers must be folded and compressed once residual food waste has been eliminated, and then the process that will transform them from waste into a secondary raw material begins. After the sterilisation and mechanical processing of the collected cartons, the cellulose fibres are separated from all the other materials.
The fibres recovered through this process form the basis for creating Fiberpack®, a material used to make paper products (toilet paper, napkins, tissues and towels) certified with the EU Ecolabel and distributed by Lucart through the Lucart Professional EcoNatural and Grazie Natural brands. These products, which have a natural light sand colour due to the fact that the cellulose fibres are not bleached, are characterised by high levels of robustness, absorbency and softness, and are 100% environmentally friendly.
Not only cellulose fibres
In addition to cellulose, proper recycling of a Tetra Pak® type cardboard container provides materials such as polyethylene and aluminium. These are used to produce AL.PE.®, a material recovered and re-used by manufacturing industries for numerous purposes, from construction to urban furniture, from everyday objects such as pens and rulers to pallets for transporting goods, from systems for dispensing hand-towels in bathrooms to the mooring poles used in Venice.
Towards a circular economy for paper
Thanks to the Fiberpack® project and the excellent results achieved in recent years, Lucart is now able to offer consumers a product made from recycled paper through a sustainable and transparent design, which is transported on a recycled pallet and used through a recycled plastic dispenser, made from recycling the various components of beverage cartons. This model of product development fully respects the principles of circular economy, which starts from the valorisation of waste through proper disposal, and continues up to the point in which they have been fully transformed into secondary raw materials that are ready to be re-used and marketed.
At the 14th edition of the “Sodalitas Social Award 2016”, the Fiberpack® project was awarded the prize for “Best in Class”, the most prestigious award for corporate sustainability in Italy. That same year, it also won the “Non Sprecare” (Don’t Waste) award in the “Companies” category, thanks to its innovative and sustainable approach to the circular economy and consumption.
A successful case history in Slovenia
In 2015, Lucart launched a pilot project in Slovenia along with a number of local partners, which has now become a successful case history as an example of introducing a circular economy system based on recycling Tetra Pak® type beverage cartons. The initiative “Municipal material flow cycle of Beverage Cartons – Novo Mesto” was launched with the goal of developing a circular economy system in the urban area of Novo Mesto that would be long-lasting and replicable internationally, by recovering and processing beverage cartons into new paper products for hygienic and sanitary use within municipal facilities and schools. This project involved 14 schools in the urban area of Novo Mesto, and marks a step forward in the recycling of beverage cartons. It is an initiative that moves toward the construction of real awareness of the environmental and economic benefits of recycling, creating value for the local economy while protecting the environment. At present 35% of public facilities in Novo Mesto use toilet paper made from beverage cartons and will continue to do so in the future.