Tetra Pak Recycling in the United Kingdom
Trends in U.S. carton recycling include an increase in availability, and better tracking and sustainability of packages. In the U.K. trends are new recycling partnerships, and available recycling, and in Australia trends include supply chain changes and aims for greater recyclability.
United States Carton Recycling
- In the United States, carton recycling has become available for over 62% of households, and cartons are now allowed to display a logo stating “Please Recycle,” under rules of the Federal Trade Commission.
- Carton recycling became available for 60% of households in 2017, and since passing the FTC standards, more than 2.5 million additional households have carton recycling available to them.
- 82 out of the largest 100 cities in the country have carton recycling available now, with 13,300 communities across 49 states currently have available access to carton recycling.
- In 2009 the Carton Council was developed to implement greater infrastructure for aseptic and gable-top food and drink carton. At this time in 2009, only 18% of homes in the U.S. had this access to carton recycling.
- According to the council, several factors were the reason for the 62% increase in the availability of carton recycling, including technology advances like robotic sorters, collaboration with organizations such as The Recylcing Partnership and Keep America Beautiful, and an expanded market for recycled carton material.
Carton Recycling Stats
- In August 2019, as reported by the Carton Council, 85% of respondents in a survey say they recycle although 65% are either do not believe they are even recycled, or are not sure about what happens to the materials.
- 92% of American survey respondents aged 18 to 34 who responded stated that they recycle cartons.
- Support for recycling cartons decreases with age as 89% of 35-49 year-olds recycling, 87% of 50 64 year-olds, and 68% of people 65 and older partaking according to the survey.
- In the U.S. and Canada, 23% of the caps on Tetra Pak cartons are now made with a renewable plant based polyethylene, while only 15% of caps were made from this plant plastic in 2018.
Tracking and Sustainability
- Tetra Pak announced early in 2019 that it would start utilizing digital printing on its packages, starting with initial digital printers in Denton, Texas, and testing in the field taking place this first half of 2020. These digitally printed packages allow new levels of customization utilizing digital technology to print digital packages with a unique QR code that can be used for tracing food sources for safety and customer engagement and even to track these packages in their journey as waste products and in the beginning of their recycling process.
- Planet Positive is a recently launched initiative by Tetra Pak urging stakeholders in the industry to look at sustainability with a broader view, through the evolution of concepts such as a Circular Economy to a Low-Carbon Circular Economy. This initiative is a new way of thinking, meant to inspire company suppliers, customers, and all other companies in general, to unite in their efforts to address global environmental issues such as waste and climate change by going beyond recycling and reusing toward carbon impact of the raw materials and manufacturing process. Tetra Pak has a long-term plan and goal to produce fully recyclable packages made only from recycled or plant-based materials, and without compromising on requirements of food safety.
United Kingdom Carton Recycling
Goals and Partnerships
- Tetra Pak has much to progress upon in their challenge of what the company claims is their ultimate aim: to construct entirely renewable cartons, with renewable materials including even recycled plastic, no longer requiring polymer from the oil and gas refineries. Along with other carton makers, it is also increasing its use of recycled and environmentally approved raw materials, such as wood pulp from certified forests.
- Tetra Pak signed and agreement and partnership with Veolia to recycle each and every component of used beverage cartons within the EU by the year 2025. Veolia, the French waste management group, and Tetra Pak aim to recycle more aluminum and polymer fibers from cartons for other industrial uses throughout Europe.
- According to sources, the average beverage carton is composed of around 75% paperboard, 20% plastic and 5% aluminum foil. The fibers recovered for years have been recycled into paper pulp for both consumer and industrial products such as paper towels, cardboard, serviettes, etc. With this new agreement, the blend of the polymer and aluminum (PolyAl) leftover from the paper manufacturing process will be recycled into materials for the plastics industry, such as plastic crates and pallets.
- This recycling of cartons is estimated to cause the overall value of used beverage cartons to double, and the value chain for collecting and recycling more viable. This agreement between Tetra Pak and Veolia starts in the EU and will grow to more markets later.
- Will Smith and his Son Jaden have started a water company using cartons to be sold throughout the U.K. that are produced by Tetra Pak and made of 82% renewable resources including 54% paper from FSC forests, 28% plant-based plastic, 15% BPA-free plastic film, and 3% aluminum.
- The carton in use will be recyclable in nine out of ten communities in the U.K. where there is available bottle collection, and the cap is also made from bio-based plastic.
- First Mile, a U.K. recycling company has launched a service for wine corks and long-life food and drink cartons called RecycleBox. RecycleBox offers U.K. consumers and businesses a low-cost courier service enabling them to dispose of their hard-to-recycle carton items.
- Customers can order a RecycleBox from First Mile or use their own box, then book a £10 courier collection service once it is full. First Mile also revealed that it is currently trying a carton curbside recycling service for businesses.
Australia Carton Recycling
Increase In Company Use
- In a move that will drastically affect carton plastic recycling, companies such as one of Australia’s oldest dairy companies have changed their old cartons out for new bio-lined packaging in efforts to move away from polyethylene plastics that are derived from fossil fuels. Replacing the average 17.8 million milk cartons the company sells each year, Brownes Dairy of Western Australia is now using a new packaging solution that produces bioplastics from sugar cane.
- Tetra Pak has now sold this new product in its new Rex range over 500 million times worldwide, with Brownes Dairy as one of the latest customers. Ridding of the plastic on the inside lining will dramatically affect the ability of these cartons to be recycled.
- Tetra Pak intends these cartons to serve as solutions for companies looking to be sustainable before further technological advancements allow even more environmentally friendly bioplastics.
Changes In Supply Chain
- At events such as the Australian Institute of Packaging's Australasian Packaging Conference taking place in Melbourne, keynote speakers speak on subjects such as the transforming of supply chains through true circular value chains, ensuring the recyclability of packaging materials, reducing packaging when possible, recycled content, designing of and replacement of problematic materials, and how packages can be reused by developing closed looped programs for packaging design.
- Companies like Tetra Pak are working constantly to improve solutions for recycling for food and beverage cartons in Australia with aims to set up a facility specifically for processing cartons by 2020. This facility would help reduce the country's dependence on waste export channels, and will limit the number of cartons that go to the landfill, ensuring they continue to deliver value after initial use.
- Tetra Pak also recently introduced the Tetra Rex bio-based carton to the Australian market, made entirely from renewable materials including sugar cane.