Carton kings like Tetra Pak expect ‘dramatic’ rise in UK recycling


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The (ACE) UK coalition includes Tetra Pak, this image from the 1960s shows the Tetra Classic carton (Picture Credit: Tetra Pak)
The (ACE) UK coalition includes Tetra Pak, this image from the 1960s shows the Tetra Classic carton (Picture Credit: Tetra Pak)

Related tags Tetra pak Recycling

An industry coalition including Tetra Pak, SIG Combibloc and Elopak will officially open the UK’s only dedicated beverage carton recycling facility today.

The Alliance for Beverage Cartons & the Environment (ACE) UK represents these companies, and the site in Stainland, West Yorkshire will be jointly by this body and Sonoco Alcore.

The site can recycle up to 40% (25000 tonnes or 1.25bn) of the cartons sold each year on the UK food and beverage market, and will be opened by UK minister Lord de Mauley today; market leader Tetra Pak says 89% of households can now recycle cartons, via kerbside collection or local banks.

But the site only has the capacity to recycle wood fibers in cartons – the polyethylene and aluminum layers will be separated and stored as a dedicated UK recycling solution (promised for 2014) is assessed for these materials.

'Game-changing step'

Steve Wyatt, MD, Tetra Pak UK & Ireland, said: “This new plant is a game-changing step in our on-going work to increase carton recycling in the UK, and it will contribute to Tetra Pak’s global ambition to double its recycling rate by 2020.

Desribing the site as great news for local authorities, Wyatt said Tetra Pak research showed that consumers were more likely to recycle their cartons if they knew they were being recycled in the UK.

“Ensuring our cartons can be easily recycled is part of our overall commitment to create packaging that is as sustainable as possible throughout its life-cycle,"​ he said. "Among other things, this means continuing to minimize carbon emissions, and using renewable materials like paperboard sourced from responsibly managed forests.”

Kerbside collection rates rise

Richard Hands, CEO, (ACE) UK, said that kerbside recycling was the most convenient collection method for consumers, with the new site giving local authorities a secure domestic market for the material stream.

“The number of local authorities collecting cartons at the kerbside has increased more than tenfold in the last six years. We’re really excited by this development and its potential to further transform carton recycling in the UK,”​ Hands added.

A Tetra Pak spokeswoman told that ease of consumer recycling was vital: "We have many exciting new products that have hit the shelves recently, ranging from FUEL liquid breakfast, VitaCoco, Jimmy’s Iced Coffee and M&S long life milk."

Significant CO2 cuts

The coalition says UK local authorities – it expects to receive cartons from 190 by the end of 2013 – and residents can be sure their waste cartons are recycled in the country while there will be stable price per tonne for cartons delivered.

Recycling cartons in the UK will also cut road and rail travel miles significantly – since cartons were previously recycled at Swedish or Italian mills – cutting an estimated 122 tonnes of CO2.

Thirdly, the coalition says the new site will provide local authorities with ‘no export’ policies on waste to recycle cartons at home rather than send them to landfill.

Operating at full capacity the facility has the potential to reduce landfill taxes and gate fees for local authorities by £3.6m/$4.74m (2013 levels), (ACE) UK and Sonoco Alcore add.

Sonoco Alcore will convert the cartons’ wood fibers into industrial-strength coreboard at an on-site papermill, to produce recyclable tubes and cores to wrap paper, yarns and films for industrial uses.

Adam Wood, Vice President -Industrial Converting Europe, Sonoco Alcore, says the site will provide a “consistently secure supply of material​” for the firm and enough material annually to produce 15,500 tonnes of coreboard or 17.8m  average-sized cores.

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