U.S. Households Able to Recycle Food and Beverage Cartons Now at 60%

The Carton Council of North America, Denton, Texas, USA, this week announced that 60% of U.S. households are currently able to recycle food and beverage cartons through their local recycling programs. This is an important milestone because food and beverage carton recycling is now available to a substantial majority of consumers and, according to the Federal Trade Commission green guidelines, can now carry the standard "Please Recycle" logo.

The Carton Council formed in 2009 with the goal to grow carton recycling. Understanding that access is the cornerstone to increasing recycling, the Carton Council has focused on building an infrastructure in the U.S. for recycling aseptic and gable-top cartons used for many common food and beverage products. Prior to forming, only 18% of households could recycle their food and beverage cartons. Now 60% of households can—a 233% increase.

"This is an important milestone that could not have been achieved without the hard work and collaboration among our public and private partners," said Jason Pelz, VP of recycling projects for the Carton Council of North America. "We share this celebration with everyone who helped to make carton recycling unequivocally mainstream."

Nina Goodrich, director, Sustainable Packaging Coalition, noted that "this is a win for all interested in recycling. We have been happy to work with the Carton Council and recognize the efforts behind this achievement. Increasing the materials that can be recycled in this country helps the environment and contributes to the circular economy."

The amount of products packaged in cartons in the U.S. has grown significantly, thanks in part to cartons’ environmental profile. Milk and non-dairy beverages, juices, coconut and standard water, broth and soups, wine, and even tomatoes and beans can be found in aseptic and/or gable-top cartons.

"It is now more important than ever to make sure consumers know that cartons can and should be recycled," said Derric Brown, VP of sustainability for the Carton Council of North America. "Companies and brands with carton packaging are encouraged to use the recycling logo. Research the Carton Council conducted reveals that the packaging is overwhelmingly the first place people go to check its recyclability. Additionally, more than two-thirds of consumers say they would assume a package is not recyclable if it did not have a recycling symbol or language on it."

Leveraging the strong foundation built with significant access, the Carton Council remains committed to advancing sustainable carton recycling in the U.S. and increasing carton recycling rates. On February 1, the Carton Council will launch a new consumer-facing website and a national digital education campaign designed to engage consumers and encourage them to recycle their cartons. Interested companies and brands can get involved by emailing Carton.Recycling@hkstrategies.com for more information and to obtain materials and resources.

The Carton Council, in its mission to grow carton recycling in the U.S., will continue to work with all stakeholders in the carton recycling value chain, to further drive access, recovery and recycling of cartons.

The Carton Council is composed of four leading carton manufacturers, Elopak, SIG Combibloc, Evergreen Packaging, and Tetra Pak, as well as an associate member, Nippon Dynawave Packaging. Formed in 2009, the Carton Council works to deliver long-term collaborative solutions to divert valuable cartons from the landfill. Through a united effort, the Carton Council is committed to building a sustainable infrastructure for carton recycling nationwide and works toward their continual goal of adding access to carton recycling throughout the U.S. 

More information is available online.