UK beverage carton recycling heading towards ‘national coverage’ – ACE UK


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UK beverage carton recycling heading towards ‘national coverage’
Beverage carton recycling has continued to increase in the UK, with half of all local authorities in the country now making kerbside collections, the Alliance for Beverage Cartons & the Environment (ACE) UK has revealed.

ACE UK represents Tetra Pak, Elopak, and SIG Combibloc - the leading manufacturers of beverage cartons in the UK. The alliance has attributed the jump in collections – a 12-fold increase on 2006 – to “close cooperation”​ with its members, local government authorities, and British consumer groups.

According to ACE UK, approximately 60,000 tonnes of paper-based beverage cartons are used in the UK each year. Dairy and fruit juice are the core categories for beverage carton, but products such as wine and chopped tomatoes are increasingly packed in cartons.

Speaking with, ACE UK CEO, Richard Hands, said that it expects to see local authority beverage carton collections to expand to “full national coverage.”​ 

National carton recycling coverage

Of the 406 local authorities in the UK, 203 now make kerbside beverage carton collections.

We have seen great progress recently, and we expect to see this continue towards full national coverage,”​ said Hands.

“There will no doubt be some councils that do not switch for their own particular reasons, because of restrictions imposed by their existing recycling contracts, for example.”

“However, given that we can now offer a clearly-defined route to market for cartons in the UK, and better financial returns, we believe that there is a compelling proposition to local authorities on the table, and that many of them will indeed switch.”

The time is now right for them to do so,” ​said Hands.

Carton collections “benefits local authorities”

ACE UK expects a further boost to carton recycling levels with the opening of the UK’s only beverage carton reprocessing facility at the Sonoco Alcore paper mill near Halifax in Yorkshire.

Beverage cartons are easily recyclable, according to ACE UK. They are collected, and then pulped using a process where the paperboard and non-fibre layers of beverage cartons are separated and turned into new materials.

The mill, which is capable of recycling 25,000 tonnes of beverage cartons each year, will offer a range of benefits to local authorities. Cartons collected in 187 local authorities are already set to come to the new plant for recycling.

They want to be able to recycle more and more from the doorstep, rather than taking items to a collection point which may not be convenient for them,”​ said Hands. “This also benefits local authorities as much more material can be captured, thereby helping them meet their recycling targets. The benefits for local authorities and householders alike are wide-ranging.”

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