Britain’s first carton recycling plant

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Good news at last for businesses and households looking to up their recycling rates: You’re now able to recycle cartons.

Writing for The Grocer trade magazine, James Haliwell notes that cartons from 180 local authority areas will be recycled at the new plant in the Halifax area, with another ten to sign up to the scheme before the end of the year.

Other reports say that the plant – a joint initiative between major beverage carton manufacturers and the Sonoco Alcore company – will recycle up to 40 per cent of the around 25,000 tonnes of carton used by the food and drinks market every year. This includes tetra-pak cartons that previously could not be recovered. Sonoco Alcore say that the waste will be recycled into industrial-strength paperboard. \

recycle cartons

Cartons which contain other materials will also be recycled – polythene and aluminium will be recovered as part of the carton recycling process, and will be stored until the best approach to their further use is worked out.

It’s the first time a plant such as this has gone into operation in the UK. Previously, cartons had to be sent abroad, meaning an immediate drop in their value once transportation had been factored in. In the past, some local authorities thought this an expense that was too much to bear, meaning the hundreds of millions of drink and food cartons were unnecessarily sent to landfill instead. Over a billion cartons every year will be processed by the plant.

Once the message gets out that food cartons are now recyclable, waste operators expect kerbside recycling rates of these products to soar. While this may mean local resistance from citizens who might dislike having yet another bin into which to separate their refuse, in the long run, it will increase recycling rates and save millions of pounds.

The card industry is set to benefit too. The plant will produce enough new paperboard to make 17.8 million cardboard tubes.

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