The proportion of US households who can recycle cartons has grown from 18 percent in 2009 to more than 40 percent today, according to the Carton Council, a collaboration between carton manufactures Elopak, SIG Combibloc, Evergreen Packaging and Tetra Pak that aims to increase recycling rates of their products.
In 2009, 21 million households had access to recycling services for shelf-stable and refrigerated cartons, which contain common food and beverage items like milk, broth and juice. That year, the manufacturers formed the Carton Council
. After three years, more than 47.9 million US households can recycle cartons, the group says.
Over that time period, recycling programs have been set up in cities including Dallas, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, San Diego and Los Angeles. Today, 43 states and 62 of the largest 100 US cities accept cartons, the group says.
Cartons are a highly recyclable product, the manufacturers say. They describe the paper fiber contained in cartons as extremely valuable and useful in making new products. Depending on what area of the country the cartons are recycled in and which paper mill they are sent to, recycled cartons can be made into office paper and tissues, and can even be used as one of the materials for wallboard manufacturing. There is a high demand for recycled cartons, and recycling cartons increases waste diversion from landfills while also offering a potential revenue stream, the group says.
While the 40 percent access milestone is good news, the Carton Council has its eyes set on even bigger numbers, with the goal of making carton recycling as accessible as possible.
In July last year, Tetra Pak
announced that it was developing packaging based on 100 percent renewable materials. The company is also targeting using 100 percent Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper board in its products, with an interim target of 50 percent in 2012.