New ‘European hub’ for beverage carton recycling starts operations

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

The facility will become one of Europe’s main recycling hubs for beverage cartons, say Stora Enso & Tetra Pak. Pic:getty/alkionaudreykryukov
The facility will become one of Europe’s main recycling hubs for beverage cartons, say Stora Enso & Tetra Pak. Pic:getty/alkionaudreykryukov

Related tags cartons Carton Packaging Tetra pak Stora enso Poland Czech republic Hungary Slovakia Lithuania

A new €29m ($32m) recycling line for post-consumer beverage cartons is starting operations in Poland, with Stora Enso and Tetra Pak collaborating on the project.

The line has the potential to triple the annual recycling capacity of beverage cartons in the country - from 25,000 to 75,000 tonnes – and provides scope to absorb the entire volume of beverage cartons sold in Poland, as well as additional volumes from neighbouring countries, including the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania.

The new line is situated at Stora Enso’s production site in Ostrołęka, Poland. The Stockholm-headquartered paperboard company has invested approximately €17m into a new repulping line that will recover the carton fibers. Processing and packaging company Tetra Pak, along with Czech recycling tech company Plastigram, have invested a total of around €12m to build the new line.

Featuring an annual capacity of 50,000 tonnes, the line handles solely beverage carton material separation, detaching fibres from polymers and aluminium. The fibres are then recycled into carton board materials, effectively contributing to material circularity by turning used paper-based packaging into new paper-based packaging materials.

This new paper recycling facility is complemented by Czech company Plastigram Industries, that, together with Tetra Pak, is industrialising a solution to recycle polyAl ​(the non-fibre component of beverage cartons – such as layers of polyolefins and aluminum to create the water and oxygen barrier) into new products.

beverage cartons stora enso supplied beverage cartons reaching the repulping line
Beverage cartons reaching the pulping line. Pic: Stora Enso

“For decades, we have been working to enhance beverage carton recycling capacity, co-investing with recyclers, technology providers and suppliers in new equipment and facilities” comments Lars Holmquist, EVP Sustainability & Communications at Tetra Pak.

“I am very pleased to see that our collaboration with Stora Enso translates into one of the largest recycling hubs for beverage cartons in Europe, contributing to this ambition. This is also an excellent example of how systemic and collective actions can help keep quality renewable materials, like paper fibres, in the loop.”

Hannu Kasurinen, EVP Packaging Materials at Stora Enso, added: “We are very pleased to see the results of our close cooperation with Tetra Pak, who, like Stora Enso, has the development of sustainable solutions at their core.

"This new modern solution marks a significant addition to European recycling capacity and a concrete step forward in the circularity of consumer packaging. In addition to complementing the current scope of our production site in Poland, the recycling facility will significantly contribute towards the recycling and waste reduction goals of the EU’s proposal for a Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation.” 

The two companies say the line demonstrates the industry’s willingness to support the circularity goals of the proposed EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR). They note that the packaging industry has already invested approximately €200m to increase the capacity for beverage carton recycling in the EU and plans to invest a further €120m by 2027.

The Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment – of which Tetra Pak and Stora Enso are members – have set goals to increase the collection for recycling rate of beverage cartons to 90% and the recycling rate to 70% in the EU by 2030.

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