Comparative life cycle assessment of beverage packaging options



Tetra Pak

Problem Statement:

Tetra Pak South Africa wished to understand the environmental strengths and weaknesses of the Tetra Pak beverage packaging options in a South African context and to compare the environmental performance of Tetra Pak packaging with other commonly available options on the South African market.

The Green House approach:

Tetra Pak required a full ISO 14040 compliant LCA study. The Green House therefore followed the approach required by the international standard, including producing a scoping report that detailed all methodological considerations and lining up a critical review panel of three leading South African LCA experts to review the study.

As Tetra Pak themselves cover only the manufacturing of the packaging, partners along the value chain were sought to cover the filling, distribution and retail stages of the life cycle. A large commercial dairy company, a juice packing company and a supermarket chain were partnered with to cover the other life cycle stages. Site visits were conducted to the dairy and juice plants, as well as to the supermarket distribution centre and retail store. The life cycle model was developed in SimaPro using the site-specific data along with The Green House’s proprietary database. A commercially available life cycle inventory (LCI) data were used to model the competing packaging options, including glass bottles, cans, plastic bottles and plastic sachets.


Two summary reports were prepared – one focusing on the comparative results of the packaging options and one focussing only on the juice packaging options – as well as a full technical report, the latter being required for the critical reviewers of the study. The study results were also presented to TetraPak senior management. Carbon footprint reports were also prepared for the dairy and juice packaging companies that provided data into the study.