Carton manufacturers improve material traceability

Almost 90% of the wood fibre used in beverage cartons is now "fully traceable", which marks "significant progress" according to industry representatives.

In 2007, members of the Alliance for Beverage Cartons & the Environment (ACE), including Tetra Pak, Elopak and SIG Combibloc, made a commitment to ensure 100% of the wood fibre they procure can be traced backed to legal sources by 2015.

In 2011, 85% was either Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified fibre or originated from FSC controlled wood. According to the latest Proforest report on the Chain of Custody (CoC), published today, this increased to 88% last year.

ACE said it was “well on track” to meet the 2015 target, and highlighted that all of the fibre used in the EU already comes from plants which are FSC CoC certified.

In addition, 43 (81%) of the 53 converting plants owned by ACE beverage carton producers worldwide have also been certified, up from 74% in 2011.

This leaves 10 more converting plants to be certified to meet a 2018 commitment to certify all beverage carton manufacturing plants.

To date, cartons collected for recycling in the UK have been sent to Europe for recycling, but a new plant opened last month in Yorkshire will take 25,000 tonnes of the cartons each year.

According to WRAP, 93% of councils were collecting plastic bottles at the kerbside in 2011/12. This compares with the 39% that took cartons, though some offer services at bring sites.

By the end of 2013, ACE UK said it expected “dramatic” improvements in recycling services and rates with the new facility in place.

Three quarters of the average beverage carton is composed of wood fibre, but the fine polymer and aluminium layers used to prevent leakage and provide a protective barrier to oxygen can make it a difficult stream to recycle. These layers will be separated from the wood fibres as part of the recycling process in Yorkshire, but the exact approach used is “still being assessed”.

Until then, the polythene and aluminium will be stored rather than landfilled or exported.

edie staff

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