UK beverage carton collection boost

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Recycling

Beverage carton recovery in the UK is gaining traction thanks to the combination of an industry-funded nationwide network of recycling bins and the growing number of kerbside collections.

The Alliance for Beverage Cartons & the Environment (ACE UK) told its members had help pay for 1,073 bring-bank sites, with 1,329 individual bins.

“After significant investment in recycling from our members – Tetra Pak, SIG Combibloc and Elopak – the beverage carton industry has shown what can be achieved when building a nation-wide recycling infrastructure from scratch, in less than four years,”​ Richard Hands, ACE UK chief executive.

Latest ACE figures for 2009 show the 14 per cent UK beverage carton recycling rate was some way below the European average of 34 per cent. Several countries, including Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and Norway recycle 50 per cent or more of all beverage cartons put on the market, the body revealed last year.


One of the major problems for UK recycling rates has been a lack of collection and recycling infrastructure, said the group.

The ACE UK chief hailed that this was being addressed through a mixture of private and public initiatives.

He added the trade body had been able to help councils fund up to five bring bank sites in their areas, but not all local authorities had taken up the maximum number. However, the chief executive noted that some councils had decided to set up carton recycling bins independently.

ACE also applauded latest figures showing that 33 per cent of UK local councils – including 61 per cent of London authorities - had introduced kerbside collections for beverage cartons. The body said the milestone had been reached after Waltham Forest and West Oxfordshire council introduced the schemes to collect beverage cartons from domestic residences.

The councils’ ability to switch to kerbside collection is largely determined by the contracts they have with waste management companies and therefore industry funding is not really an issue, said ACE.

But the beverage carton industry said it does arrange some of the transport of the collected cartons for reprocessing. This applies to cartons collected at both kerbside and bring bank. It also works with the councils to facilitate the switch to kerbside and provides publicity material to highlight the importance of carton recycling to residents, such as leaflets and stickers.

“Overall, 88 per cent of households in the UK now have access to carton recycling – either through kerbside collection or the industry’s own bring-bank system – but we’re keen to push further still,”​ said Hands. “In particular, we’re committed to making recycling easier for the consumer and we urge local authorities to continue to work with us to increase kerbside coverage.”

Beverage cartons are 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, such as envelopes and carrier bags, while the polymer and foil layers can be recycled or used for energy recovery.

Related topics Processing & packaging

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