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Major Packaging Makers Join Forces to Increase Carton Recycling

Food and drink cartons, which are primarily paper with some plastic and liners, have a number of environmental advantages over similar packaging made of glass, metal or plastic. Cartons are typically lighter, use fewer materials and can keep food fresh longer.

However, there is a severe lack of recycling streams for cartons in the United States. Only 26 states have communities that accept cartons in their recycling systems, but a new group hopes to change that.

Four major carton manufacturers have created the Carton Council to help improve carton recycling in the U.S. by promoting recycling technology and local collection programs. Founders of the Carton Council are Tetra Pak, Elopak, Evergreen Packaging and SIG Combibloc.

The group's first program is an alliance with Waste Management and Tropicana. Waste Management has announced that it will accept cartons at all of its recycling facilities in the U.S., taking in cartons for juice, milk, broth, soups and more. Future activities will include partnerships with community stakeholders, municipalities, sorting facilities and others in order to both expand the recycling infrastructure and help cities and recyclers inform consumers where they can recycle cartons.

Cartons are recycled through a process called hydropulping, which recovers paper fibers. Cartons are made of a mix of paper and polymer; a Tropicana carton, for example, is made of 85 percent paper and 15 percent polymer.

Milk cartons - CC license by sfllaw

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