How to dispose and recycle cartons

The UK produces 82 million tonnes of packaging waste each year, with waste cartons contributing significantly to these figures. As a result, we must know how to dispose of them correctly.

carton recycling and disposal

What type of waste are cartons?

As mentioned previously, cartons are a form of packaging waste that can easily be recycled because they are made from a combination of paper, plastic and aluminium.

Who invented cartons?

The invention of cartons is often credited to Robert Gair, who was previously known for creating paper bags and other forms of paper packaging. He created the cartons in 1839 when searching for semi-flexible packaging that offered a little more support and structure than traditional bags.

What are cartons made from, and how are they made

What materials are cartons made from?

Cartons are made from various recyclable materials – with paper (paperboard) being used in the most significant volumes. However, they also contain polyethene and aluminium foil, the latter of which is used to protect the contents and give them a longer shelf-life.

How are cartons made?

The process of creating cartons varies slightly depending on what they will be used for. For example, drinks often require extra insulation to ensure the product is safe for consumption.

Sheets of paperboard are cut to size and dried.

The paperboard is then pulled through rollers, which apply both heat and pressure to the paper, stretching it out. During this process, a thin polythene film is created, which is then layered over the paperboard.

Additional products such as aluminium foil are layered on top of the product.

The paperboard is then fed into a printing machine or press, where any necessary designs or logos will be attached. For example, if the carton is being used to store milk, the brand’s name will be added to the board.

The cartons are then constructed using specialist machinery, with glue being used to seal the seams in place.

The products are then filled and a lid attached.

Carton Disposal

How should you dispose of Cartons?

Many different businesses, such as supermarkets and restaurants, produce large volumes of carton waste as part of their daily operations. As such, you should ensure this waste is disposed of correctly and is diverted away from landfill sites and towards the appropriate disposal facilities. You should:

    Ensure products have been cleaned before disposal so that they are free from any potential contaminants.
    Store carton waste in the appropriate containers, such as a paper waste bin, skip or recycling baler.
    Arrange for the waste to be collected.

What happens to them next after they have been put in the bin?

Cartons will typically take around five years to decompose if sent to landfill sites. While this may not seem that long (especially when compared to plastic products), they can still do considerable damage to the environment during this time. Thankfully, the recycling process for these products is relatively straightforward. Cartons are taken to specialist recycling facilitates, known as paper mills. Here, they are fed into a large mixer and combined with water. This separates the different products from each other (paper, aluminium and plastic polymers). Each of these materials is then extracted and cleaned before being reintroduced to the manufacturing process. They are often used to make new paper products or cartons.

Alternatives to Cartons

What are some eco-friendly alternatives to cartons?

Since the materials used to create cartons can be easily recycled, they are widely considered a perfectly acceptable (and sustainable) form of packaging. However, there are a few alternatives you may want to consider. For example:

Can you do anything with cartons instead of throwing them away?

Thankfully, you do not necessarily need to throw away cartons directly after use – as they are a very versatile product that can be put to use in other ways throughout your home or business. For example, cartons can be used as planters for those trying to put their gardening skills to the test. Alternatively, you can cut them down to different sizes and use them for storage, making desk organisation a breeze. Finally, you can use them in a variety of craft projects.

What are the costs associated with recycling and disposing of cartons?

At Business Waste, we believe that recycling should not be expensive due to the fact that it is so important. As a result, we provide our clients with cost-effective services across the board. For example, we’ll help you get started on the right foot by giving you free access to bins and containers – such as recycling balers – for you to store your waste in before disposal.

Facts about cartons

How many cartons are there?

Approximately 2 trillion drinks cartons are made every year

How many cartons are in landfills?

While the exact figures regarding the number of cartons sent to landfills are unclear, paper waste makes up around 26% of the waste sent to landfill sites each year.

When recycled, cartons can be turned into new cartons, paper towels, or even tissues.

Cartons are considered a sustainable product because they are lightweight and don’t take up too much space. As a result, they often take up less space than other forms of packaging during shipment.

Where can you take these items to recycle/dispose of them for free?

Thankfully, cartons can be recycled alongside the rest of your general recycling, which is then collected by your local council. This is because they can easily be sorted at recycling facilities. Additionally, many supermarkets have designated waste collection points where you can leave all manner of recyclables – including cartons free of charge.

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