Kerbside drink carton collections up 16-fold in decade

The kerbside collection of beverage cartons for recycling has seen a 16-fold increase across local authorities in the past decade, according to new figures released this week.

Figures released by the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE) show that the UK’s collection rates have hit 66%, up from 2006 levels when just 4% of local councils collected cartons at kerbside. When ACE UK’s own bring-bank system is included, 92% of UK local authorities now collect cartons for recycling. 

South Hams District Council in South Devon is the latest organisation to carry out the procedure.

“It is great news that South Hams District Council is now collecting beverage cartons at kerbside, taking us to the 66% milestone, which represents two in every three households in the UK,” ACE UK chief executive Richard Hands said.

“Our members – Tetra Pak, Elopak and SIG Combibloc – are extremely pleased that their strategy to increase kerbside collection and make it easier for residents to recycle cartons is paying dividends.”

Carton recovery

The cartons will be recycled at the UK’s only dedicated beverage carton recycling facility in West Yorkshire. Capable of recycling 25,000 tonnes of cartons sorted from household and commercial waste streams, the facility currently receives cartons from 35% of local authorities, through kerbside and bring-bank schemes.

Beverage cartons are easily recycled using a simple pulping process, where the paperboard and non-fibre layers are separated and turned into new materials. The wood fibres can be used to produce new high-strength paper products, while the polymer and foil layers can be used to make items such as garden furniture and construction materials.

ACE UK is one of several trade bodies which jointly produced a new set of guidelines which detail exactly what can and cannot be accepted for recycling at the kerbside. It is hoped that the move could help Britain’s rising recycling contamination levels be pulled back on track.

Swedish food processing and packaging company Tetra Pak last year launched a bio-based version of its Tetra Top carton package which will have a plant-based renewable content of more than 80%.The sleeve of the carton is made from paperboard certified by Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) – a global certificate standard for forest management. The number of Tetra Pak cartons bearing the FSC logo has increased gradually to 54 billion.

George Ogleby

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