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Twin boost for UK beverage carton recyclers

United Kingdom – Opportunities to recycle beverage cartons continue to increase in the UK. The proportion of local authorities collecting them from the kerbside has reached 50%, according to the latest figures from the Alliance for Beverage Cartons & the Environment (ACE), which represents leading manufacturers of beverage cartons for the UK market.

The alliance said the 50% milestone, a 12-fold increase on 2006 levels, followed co-operation between ACE UK, its members – Tetra Pak, Elopak and SIG Combibloc – local authorities and consumer groups. When ACE UK’s own Bring Bank system is included, 89% of local authorities are estimated to be collecting cartons for recycling.

A further boost is expected later this year with the opening of the UK’s only beverage carton reprocessing facility at the Sonoco Alcore paper mill near Halifax, West Yorkshire. The facility will be able to recycle 25 000 tonnes of cartons per year, sorted from household and commercial waste streams.

Each year, the UK consumes approximately 60 000 tonnes of paper-based cartons, now used to package an increasingly wide range of food products, such as soup, chopped tomatoes and pulses, in addition to milk and fruit juice. This equates to around 2.3kg of cartons per household.

Yet the paperboard and non-fibre layers can be separated in a simple pulping process, with the wood fibre going into high-strength paper products, such as cores and tubes for consumer and industrial applications, while the polymer and foil layers can be recycled or used for energy recovery.

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