Leading food processing and packaging solutions company Tetra Pak and Dubai-based Union Paper Mills (UPM) have entered the next stage of their partnership, marked by the signing of a ground-breaking 2.5 million dirham transformative recycling agreement aimed at establishing a commercially viable collection and recycling value chain for used beverage cartons (UBCs) in the UAE, in alignment with the standards set for sustainability at the ongoing UN Climate Change Conference COP28.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed in November last year, paving the way for significant progress in identifying the technical and investment needs for recycling UBCs in the UAE. Since the MoU, both companies have engaged in extensive collaboration, including technical assessments, visits by international recycling experts, meetings, and industrial trials with carton packages collected from local dairy producers.
The formalisation of this unique partnership outlined Tetra Pak’s capex investments for new equipment to be installed at UPM. Recycling targets and key performance indicators (KPIs) have been defined and agreed upon, and areas of collaboration in developing the collection and recycling of UBCs in the UAE have been identified.
The installation of the new equipment is expected in the second half of 2024. However, collections will commence even before the recycling line is fully operational to generate feedstock for the startup and commissioning.
Niels Hougaard, Managing Director Tetra Pak Arabia Area & Tetra Pak Export, speaks about the collaboration: “This project is our way to demonstrate our commitment to sustainability and collaborative innovation in the region. We strongly believe that we all have a role to play against climate change. Tetra Pak’s strategy aims to involve waste management and collection companies, to reach out to potential regional partners, and to collaborate with our customers and schools to raise awareness about waste segregation and recycling. By involving diverse stakeholders, we aim to create a comprehensive and effective recycling ecosystem.”
Salahuddin Sharafi, Chairman of M.A.H.Y. Khoory & Co., which owns UPM, adds, “As the pioneer and largest paper recycler in the UAE, sustainability is at the core of what we do. This new collaboration with Tetra Pak supports our sustainable growth plans, enhancing our recycling capabilities to process UBCs and obtain high-quality raw materials for our operations while supporting the UAE’s ambitions to increase recycling.”
The project aligns with the UAE government’s ambitions to divert waste from landfills and enhance local recycling capabilities, while showcasing the commitment of Tetra Pak and UPM to environmental sustainability and responsible business practices.
Speaking about Tetra Pak joining the Swedish Pavilion at the ongoing COP28, where food systems have been placed centre stage for the first time, Hougaard comments, “No climate action plan is complete without food systems transformation, so we are at COP28 in the UAE to bring concrete solutions and discuss pathways we all need to build more sustainable, resilient, and equitable global food systems for generations to come.”