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to sustainable packaging with Cory Connors. Today's guest is someone I've been very eager to meet and, and speak with. Mr. Jordan Fengel is a sustainability manager for Tetra pack. How areJordan Fengel:
you Jordan? I'm doing great. Cory . Thank you very much forCory Connors:
having me. Thank you. You, you guys are doing great things in the world of sustainable packing and I'm excited to tell the world about it. So tell us about your background a little bit, Jordan, where, where you from? What. How'd you get into this kind of industry.Jordan Fengel:
Yeah, it's I have a, an interesting background. I, I started off actually in the medical field, so I was a paramedic for over a decade and it kind of came to a career choice of do I want to keep working in, in the medical industry or, or would I really wanna do with my life? And so actually I got onto a green team of one of the medical industries that I was working at as a paramedic. And I really liked the whole recycling aspect in, in dealing with. Trying to educate people and recycle. Right. And it really kind of connected. I grew up in California. So, you know, the, the hippie kid back in the the, the early eighties and you know, we painted the, the chasing arrows on our school, the side of it back when it really, you know, getting going. So it really connected with me, I think. And I like to, to point to You know, medicine is all about systems and all of the systems working. So in your body, you have all of these, the circulatory endocrine, all these different systems and they all have to work. Otherwise you get sick. Hmm. So it's I found that connection in the material management industry, in that we have consumers, we have the manufacturers and processors and, and in markets and all of these things, I actually have to work together or, you know, the system is sick. And so I think that's. Some of the things I'd like to work on is, is the problems that we have with either in markets or communication with people. And so that's why I really enjoy what we do is cuz it's systems based thinking.Cory Connors:
That's a great way. Yeah. Great way of thinking about it. I, I like that a lot. It almost work together or it doesn't function and there are some things, in the world of packaging that are broken, that we're working hard to fix. Right. But you know, I think Tetra pack is, is one of the good things. And I I'd like to, to talk about it. And can you tell us about how it works? What's it, you know, what's it made out of how, how is it recycled? All that stuff.Jordan Fengel:
For sure. You know, I guess I'll start off with like who actually Tetra pack is in case people don't know. I mean, it's, , once you see it, it's, it's kinda like having a red car, like that's all you see is red cars. So once you go into a grocery store and you, and you, you look at like how many things are actually in cartons, you'll never, you never not see them. But Tetra pack is a, it's a world leading food processing and packaging company. So we make packaging, obviously the carton, which is ubiquitous. So we have a Gable top cartons, your, your half gallon or your little school, like half pint milk cartons. And then we also have an aseptic or a shelf stable carton. So your BR your broth and But also we make processing equipment for a lot of different products, like cheese and ice cream. And so the everyday commodities that you go out and buy at the, at the stores often time is actually produced on equipment made by a Tetra pack, which is kinda interesting. So that's who we are as a company and. And really we have like , a big goal of becoming the world's most sustainable packaging. And that, you know, by 2030, we wanna have a package that's made entirely from renewable materials and, or recycled content fully recyclable in the traditional recycling stream. And it really doesn't ever compromise the food safety requirements , that not only brands require, but what consumers expect. You know, , our company had started on you know, saying with a promise, basically it protects what's good. And so like, everything that we do in our company really starts with that promise. And that's why we continue to push innovation work with our customers. And it realizes our vision. You know, we have a commitment to make sure that food is available and safe everywhere.Cory Connors:
And shelf stable and, and can be distributed. And yeah, all of these things a lot of people don't think about the sustainability of our food source and the sustainability of you go to the grocery store and assure, make sure that soup's gonna be there so my kids can eat, you know? It's it's, it's an aspect of sustainability. That's often overlooked., thank you so much for explaining what Tetra pack is and, and what you, where your future goals are. What kind of materials are used in Tetra pack today that, that the consumer can can know about.Jordan Fengel:
Right. And it's, it's actually very broad. So basically any food or beverage product that it can't, you know, that exists out there can be put into a carton. So long as it's not carbonated. So, right. It's one thing that we don't have is, is the ability to put a carbonated beverage into a the car ton But, you know, I think, you know, looking at the different types of like products or even just materials that Tetra pack would replace, or, you know, brands would transition to, you know, I think we like to make the point that there's not a hero package out there, right? Every package can serve a, a role and play a, an important part in delivering a product to the consumers as they expect. But we do believe that our cartons are really a good choice for brands to use, to deliver the products to customers. We're largely fiber based. So over 70% fiber based package we have for, again, I mentioned the, the aseptic and or shelf stable packaging, and, you know, really, if we can dig into that, that, that it removes the need for refrigeration. And if you look at the carbon footprint of refrigeration from a production standpoint, a distribution standpoint in a retail stand. It's huge. And so having that ability to put a product into a carton without the use of preservatives or anything else, I mean, it's the same product. And it lasts up to, you know, six months to a year on at ambient temperatures. That's, that's huge and also addresses a whole food waste issue. If you look at, you know, two thirds of global emissions can be a true to, to you know, food waste. And so and lastly, you know, cartons are, are widely recyclable, and I know that's a big question out there. About about Tetra pack and every other manufacturer out there that does cartons. And yes, they are recyclable. The multi-layer component of that package does not make it unrecyclable or hard to recycle it. It actually goes really well into the traditional stream and, and we can go into that further. But last year, it was really cool because we actually expanded the, the production of our aseptic cartons with plant-based plastics and our Denton Texas facility. So we brought that production up to up here into Texas where we're based. And then we're also using plant-based caps. So. Really all of our plant based materials are Bonko certified. And if you haven't checked that out, you know, people can look it up on the on Google. It's a really great certification and it just points to, you know, being land stewards and, and environmental stewards of the materials that we source to make our, our sugar cane based plastics. But this is all put together. It's a big step forward for our customers who are dedicated to bringing, you know, sustainable packaging options to their, the consumers in the north American market.Cory Connors:
That's really fantastic. I didn't know that I didn't think about the sustainability of the food itself being so shelf stable six to six months to a year is incredible. Two thirds of global emissions from food waste. That's an impressive number. I've never heard that. Yep. I know that. A massive amount of fresh food gets thrown away because it spoils and that's terrible and a real problem in our, our system. But it sounds like you guys are solving some problems well done. Yeah,Jordan Fengel:
no, it's a, it's definitely a good technology. We're we're doing some cool tests with for instance, Dallas independent school district you know, having them. Not have chilled milk in the half buy container and using shelf stable aseptic. And it's going really well. Kids are receptive to it. It tastes the same. It, you know, acts the same performs the same, but the refrigeration component is taken out of that until they actually want to, you know, serve it to the children. They can put in the refrigerator and chill it. That's cool.Cory Connors:
Incredible. And the, the lack of need for refrigeration for that is the carbon footprint is massive on, on refrigeration. I know all of those units on the roof, in the school or the big chiller room and well, this will make it easier to store too. And all these things help the school and, and the municipalities that use that product. Great idea, right?Jordan Fengel:
Yeah. And, and, you know, think about too, the, the food waste reduction, you know, currently school milk needs to be handed out by a certain time. Right. Because there's expiration date on it. So kind of, regardless of a kid wants milk or not, they're handed milk so be aseptic. Technology, you can actually, you know, ask kids, do you want the milk? Because you don't have to, you know, give it away by a certain time. But even more so if they decide not to open that package, they can throw it in their backpack and it's not gonna like spoil and they can take it home. And, you know, because it has that shelf, stable ability.Cory Connors:
That's incredible. What, another way to look at sustainability? Well done. There's nothing sustainable about damaged goods or spoiled food. We talk about that quite a bit. Right? Well done. Great. So what's next for Tetra pack? Anything exciting going on? You're you're in Texas now. Do you have other locations opening up or anything else?Jordan Fengel:
So te I mean, the headquarters is, is located in, in Texas here. And then obviously, so we're, we're in 160 different countries and in 25,000 employees plus, so a large global footprint, but, you know, we have a lot of sustainability goals that we've set as a, as a, you know, leading global corporation. We did a commitment to net at zero operations in our, in our own. Company here by 2030 and then across the full value chain by 2050 we're part of the re 100 group, which is a voluntary initiative to, to use renewable energy throughout our global portfolio, we hit 83% globally in 2020. And, and we are happy enough to be able to say that As of 2020, the United States and Canada markets are all at a hundred percent renewable energy. And that includes onsite solar arrays too. So a lot of people ask, you know, is that just through rec credits? And if it's not we actually have at our Denton facility, Acres of, of solar panels there that generate inside electricity,Cory Connors:
Kudos to you. That's that's impressive. Absolutely impressive. I would love to see one of your facilities someday. Yeah. Match Texas. Get some barbecue. Yeah. I just got back from Austin, Texas. Oh, what a neat city. We were there for the Specright convention. That, that company is amazing and really, really growing quickly. Have you heard of spec right.Jordan Fengel:
I did. I, you know, I saw some of the posts that you had on LinkedIn there about that visit with Adam. Yeah. It looked like a, a good crowd that you guys were with and that's, it looked like aCory Connors:
good event. I think the future of packaging definitely goes into a spec first approach. And what they're doing is, is making it so. So much easier for, for brands and for companies to you know, spec in the right materials and make sure it's the, you know, it's the right Tetra pack car. It's the right skew. It's the right artwork. It's the updated, you know, all of these things are incredible. Is that, is that something that you guys would consider someday joining something like that?Jordan Fengel:
You know, there's a lot of departments and a lot of people. So, you know, we look into, you know, we, we really do believe in collaboration and partnerships and, and, you know, utilizing external partner again, partnerships to really make things happen. You know, I say it often in, in addressing climate change or addressing consumer needs, I don't think there's one sector or one industry or one. Company, that's gonna be able to do it on our own. Right. So anything that you can do to, to better the, either the package or the messaging, or just the, the handle ability of, of a package, right. Would, would serve us. Good. So I'm sure if we haven't already looked at it, I'm sure someone would look at it.Cory Connors:
I think that's great. Great step. I see some guitars behind you. Are you a musician?Jordan Fengel:
so those are my, yeah, those are my bases. That, that was my my being forced to play piano as a child. My seventh, my seventh grade ambition of after I got my first job at 14 was to, to buy my own bass. And so, you know when I have time. Yeah. I still like to, to play music, which other in our industry Dan Felton, who's the executive director of American. He also plays bass. There's a lot of bases out there. Actually. I found just by hanging, hanging those things up in, in my officeCory Connors:
here. Oh, they're beautiful guitars. Yeah. Bass bass is fun. I actually played it briefly in high school. It's it's a lot of fun. It is. It's not easy. That'sJordan Fengel:
for sure. Yeah. Everyone thinks it's four strings should be easy. And it's, it's, it's fun though. Yeah. Music is, it's a good tool to relax. I'll say that. Yeah.Cory Connors:
Yep. Well, you'll have to keep us posted on the 2025 initiatives and the 2030 initiatives and all of those maybe we'll, we'll do another interview here in a, in a year or so and, and catch up.Jordan Fengel:
Yeah, definitely. That'd be great.Cory Connors:
Sounds good. I'd like to thank Landsberg Orora for your sponsorship of this podcast. If you're listening, please take a minute to subscribe and, tell your friends about us. Thanks again, Jordan. Appreciate it. Yeah.Jordan Fengel:
Appreciate it, Cory . Thank you very much.