Light Blur

Carbon Footprint

To assess the carbon footprint of beverage cartons, numerous Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) have been undertaken by the industry and leading environmental research institutes. Most studies have shown that beverage cartons have the lowest carbon footprint in its core categories of milk and juice. Learn more about Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs).

The beverage carton has a low carbon footprint for a number of reasons:

Growing trees absorb CO2

The trees grown to produce the original wood fibre (and the new ones planted after harvest) help to mitigate
global warming, as they continually absorb CO2 in order to grow. As more trees are grown than are harvested this renewable resource not only benefits industry by providing a continual source of packaging raw material, it benefits the environment too. More...

Energy-efficient processes and use of renewable energy

In order to reduce its CO2 emissions, the beverage carton industry is continuously putting measures in place to use energy more efficiently and to use more renewable energy. From the choice of raw materials to the design of packaging, energy efficiency measures and use of renewable energy in production, ACE members strive to reduce carbon emissions at all stages of the life-cycle.

At the production stage, the highly energy-efficient processes used by the carton manufacturers reduce reliance on fossil fuel energy consumption. Manufacturers increasingly use certified renewable energy in their operations.

Some of the mills also distribute excess heat to the nearby communities (district heating), helping further to minimise fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions in their neighbourhoods. If this green energy was not generated and sold, it would have to be bought from non-renewable sources. The energy is generated from burning wood residues (bark, small branches, sawdust) and 'black liquor' (the hemicellulose- and lignine-containing residue from the pulping process).

Beverage carton manufacturers have reduced their CO2 emissions by energy-efficient measures and by purchasing certified renewable energy. Two of our member companies were elected to the WWF Climate Savers programme as recognition for their track record and the seriousness of their future commitments.

Industry's commitment

Beverage carton producers are constantly monitoring and striving to reduce their products' environmental impacts along the life cycle, especially greenhouse gas emissions. For this reason the non-paper components of the package are limited to a minimum - without the negative impact on the package's health and safety requirements as well as its consumer functionalities.

The shape and weight of beverage cartons

Beverage carton producers have designed cartons to be cuboid and lightweight in nature so that they are space- and transport efficient, thereby minimising fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

As cartons are only formed and filled on customer sites, most cartons are delivered in giant rolls of packaging material or boxes of flattened packages. Two trucks can carry around 1.2m empty one-litre cartons.
A truck loaded with filled cartons transports about 95% product and only 5% packaging (including secondary packaging and palettes). Fuel consumption, and consequently CO2 emissions, are therefore much lower compared with the transportation of more space-consuming or heavier packages.

Beverage cartons are recyclable

Once it has been used, the beverage carton is recovered or recycled, completing its life-cycle with a further action to lower the overall CO2 impact. With recycling continuously growing, the industry helps moving used beverage cartons away from landfill, thereby continuously reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

Recycling original materials in beverage cartons into new products helps lengthen the use of wood fibres as a temporary carbon sink and a valuable new material, and, hence, optimises the use of forest-based renewable resources.