Carton recycling plant set to boost British reprocessing

Plans to develop the UK's first beverage carton reprocessing facility have been unveiled as research shows increasing consumer demand for recycling this material.

The agreement announced today (June 25) between the Alliance for Beverage Cartons & the Environment (ACE) UK and packaging producer Sonoco Alcore will see the pioneering plant built in Halifax, West Yorkshire.

It will have capacity to reprocess 25,000 tonnes of cartons a year from household and commercial waste streams and is due to be operational from 2013.

Collection coverage for beverage cartons is already high. Currently 89% of households can recycle cartons – kerbside coverage in the UK has increased tenfold from 4% of local authorities in 2006 to 43% in 2012.

Meanwhile research released today by Tetra Pak shows that more than half (58%) of Brits would be more likely to recycle their used food and drink cartons if they were reprocessed in the UK rather than exported for recycling.

The top reason stated for this was on principle, with many agreeing with the statement ‘if cartons are used in the UK, they should be recycled in the UK’ due to the value of the material.

The study also found that recycling is now ‘second nature’ to two-fifths (40%) of UK adults with more than a quarter (29%) having a set routine that they follow for recycling.

Tetra Pak also wants to see 47% of local authorities collecting cartons from kerbside by the end of this year and hopes the new facility will encourage wider adoption of collection schemes.

The news has been welcomed by WRAP, whose head of collections & quality programme Linda Crichton said: “With the steady increase in collections of cartons for recycling over recent years the ability to now recycle these in the UK is good news for local authorities and their waste management contractors.”

According to reprocessor Sonoco Alcore, the high-quality wood fibres found in beverage cartons make them a valuable raw material for new paperboard products. The plant will recycle reprocessed paperboard layers into consumer and industrial products, such as tubes for cling film and cores for rolls of textiles.

Maxine Perella

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