Cartons Are Recyclable

Wash, Squash And Recycle

Our global recycling goal for 2020, in line with our expected sales increase, is to triple the amount of recycled packages from 2010 to 2020, reaching about 100 billion recycled packages in 2020 alone. Our approach is to improve recyclability of our products as well as increasing the rates of recycling at a global level.

Protects what's good for you

Tetra Pak® is working hard to ensure that more and more people are able to recycle their cartons in the UK. Over 90% of Local Authorities now collecting cartons for recycling, and more than 50% of Local Authorities are helping people to recycle from their homes.

We've made some great progress but there is much work still to be done.

For more information about carton recycling, what we are doing and how you can help, simply take a look around the site. To find out where you can recycle cartons use our interactive map.

Our aim is to make it easy for everyone to recycle their cartons - help us by pledging to recycle your cartons and spreading the word!

Cartons Are Recyclable

Cartons are recyclable, they are collected for recycling in most Local Authority areas across the UK. There is also a carton recycling facility located at the Sonoco Alcore papermill in Stainland near Halifax.

How Cartons Are Recycled

A step by step process:

  1. Baled cartons are dropped into a pulper, similar to a giant domestic food mixer,
  2. filled with water, and
  3. pulped for around 20 minutes.
  4. This breaks down the packaging to produce a grey-brown mixture.
  5. The aluminium foil and polyethylene are separated from the fibre,
  6. The fibre is recovered to make new paper products.
  7. The remaining mix of plastic and aluminium can then be used in furniture, to generate energy or even separated out into pure aluminium and paraffin.

Why Should Cartons Be Recycled?

Carton recycling is important for a number of different reasons.

Saving Resources

We do not live in a world with unlimited resources, something that Ruben Rausing, Tetra Pak®'s founder, recognised when he insisted that 'a package should save more than it costs'. In one sense this meant that a using a carton to protect food should save money. But he also meant that the environmental benefits of cartons, which reduce food waste and energy intensive refrigeration, should out-weigh the environmental impact of producing the package itself.

If you are able to then use the raw materials of that package to make something else, then so much the better. The long, high-strength paper fibres in cartons can be made in to an array of paper-based products that may not be able to use the shorter, weaker fibres that can be found in other paper recycling sources. In fact, our Sustainability Reports in the UK are all printed on recycled carton paper!

Reducing Landfill

Being a small, densely populated island, the UK produces a lot of waste but doesn't have a large amount of space in which to put it. We simply cannot afford to keep burying waste.

Your Council is working hard to reduce waste to landfill and we are helping them. You can find out more on the work being done to reduce the UK's reliance on landfill by visiting www.defra.gov.uk.

Increasing Recycling Rates

All Local Authorities have recycling targets that they have to meet on an annual basis. These are all weight based and they are required to report the percentage of all the material that is collected and recycled into DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) every year.

They meet these targets by offering a range of collection services for different materials, but it can sometimes be difficult to increase these percentages further and encourage people to recycle even more.

By including cartons in collection and increasing the number of materials that can be recycled by residents, Local Authorities are able to:

  • Increase participation in existing collection operations as residents are offered another waste stream to recycle
  • Help increase the overall tonnage return of materials collected as more residents participate in recycling

Thus increasing the overall percentage of material recycled.

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Fortnightly Collections

As Local Authorities offer more kerbside recycling services, less material needs to be collected in the general waste bin. To reduce waste, save on costs and the environmental impact of transport, many Local Authorities are now looking at fortnightly/alternate weekly collection for general waste material.

By offering carton collection services, Local Authorities are able to keep more material out of this general waste bin.

Reducing Carbon Impact

By recycling your cartons you can help to minimise your impact on climate chance as much as possible.

This is because wood and paper that degrade in nature release their carbon. When this carbon reacts with oxygen, and they form CO2. This is called CO2-neutral as no additional carbon is released than was originally absorbed by the tree to make wood.

However, when wood and paper are in a landfill, they will degrade anaerobically - without oxygen and light - and this produces methane. Modern landfills recapture the methane and use it as fuel - which keeps the CO2 balance neutral again. But in older or unregulated landfills, the methane, a more powerful green-house gas than CO2, escapes to the air.

Tetra Pak Actions

What Have We Done About It? Tetra Pak® is extremely serious about increasing carton collection and recycling in the UK. Our aim is to make it easier than ever to recycle, so there can be no excuses for not doing so.

Before June 2007 we faced a challenge, only 20% of all Local Authority areas were collecting cartons for recycling. We needed to change this fast. We worked with several key waste contractors and local authorities across the UK to roll out a recycling solution to establish carton collection across the country. Now, over 90% of Local Authorities are collecting cartons for recycling, with more than 50% of these from the home.

The carton recycling infrastructure is now managed directly via our industry body ACE UK (Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment UK) and we have a dedicated carton recycling facility near Halifax, West Yorkshire.

This facility not only means that cartons can be recycled in the UK, Local authorities can also take advantage of a stable price per tonne for cartons delivered which is incentivising more and more local authorities to collect cartons from the home for recycling.

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What Can You Do?

Consumers, Local Authorities, Schools and Retailers - we all know carton recycling is the right thing to do. But what can you do to make it happen?

Consumers

Cartons are collected in most parts of the UK for recycling. To find out where your nearest collection point is, why not look at our interactive map? Simply click on your area and the details of the collection service will appear.

Whilst most parts of the UK collect cartons for recycling, there are still a few areas that do not offer this service yet. We are working hard to change this. The UK has not managed to reach the levels of recycling we want and need to. This is something Tetra Pak® is determined to help change.

If you'd like to see carton collection in your area, and it is not currently available, then why not let your Local Authority know. Put them in touch with our industry body ACE UK, which has a dedicated recycling team offering advice and support for local authorities and community recycling networks (CRN) wishing to collect cartons. Contacts in local authorities or CRNs who want to find out more about how to start collecting cartons at kerbside, can contact the ACE UK recycling team (Tel: 01244 893846, Email: enquiries@ace-uk.co.uk) who will be able to talk through the process and answer their questions.

Click here for Consumer FAQs

Schools and businesses

Schools can now recycle cartons!

Empty cartons from milk consumed in the UK’s schools are generally viewed as commercial waste. Management of commercial waste is funded by the Local Education Authority through the individual school grants. In the last few years there has been a relaxation in the approach used by local authorities to collect school waste and this can now be undertaken as part of the household collections system. This means that cartons can be collected from schools using the same collection service that households receive. Schools located in local authority areas that collect cartons from the home have opportunity to use the household waste collection system for recycling used cartons.

For example, cartons are collected from homes in Belfast by Bryson Recycling through Belfast City Council and these cartons will be sent for recycling to the recycling plant in Halifax. Schools in Belfast will have contact with Belfast City Council through the local Education Library Board and therefore will have opportunity to use Belfast City Council’s carton collection system to process used school milk cartons in the Halifax carton recycling plant.

To find out how, click here.

But recycling cartons at your school is not all you can do. Why not have some fun whilst teaching your class and take advantage of the great tools we have available.

Pledge to recycle your cartons

Get creative and make some exciting things with our Carton Crafts

Teach your class about renewability and wider issues around sustainability with our Lesson Plans and fun fillers

Help spread the word and get others to recycle their cartons too with our handy toolkit including poster designs, bookmark designs web buttons, event ideas, factsheets etc.

Local Authorities and CRNs

Over 90% of Local Authorities now collecting cartons for recycling, and over 50% of Local Authorities are helping people to recycle from their homes, so carton recycling is becoming the norm.

Our industry body ACE UK, which has a dedicated recycling team offering advice and support for local authorities and community recycling networks (CRN) wishing to collect cartons. Contacts in local authorities or CRNs who want to find out more about how to start collecting cartons at kerbside, can contact the ACE UK recycling team (Tel: 01244 893846, Email: enquiries@ace-uk.co.uk) who will be able to talk through the process and answer their questions.