Tetra Pak Recycling in the United Kingdom

Goals

We will determine whether beverage cartons or Tetra Paks can be recycled easily in the United Kingdom. Specifically, we would look into how readily recyclable, and/or widely recycled, Tetra Paks are in the UK.

Early Findings

Tetra Pak Recycling Programs

  • Tetra Pak recycling programs in the United Kingdom vary depending on the region. Tetra Pak UK has a specific website where users can find their region or enter their Local Authority Code to find how to recycle Tetra Paks in their area.
  • As of 2019, over 90% of local authorities in the UK were collecting food and beverage cartons for recycling, with 65% of these collecting recyclables from the home. As of 2007, only 20% of Local Authorities collected food and beverage cartons for recycling.

Tetra Pak Recycling Behaviors

  • Still, 12% of UK households throw Tetra Paks into general rubbish even if it can be recycled.
  • Households in Wales are more likely to contaminate their general rubbish with beverage cartons or Tetra Pak compared to other regions in the United Kingdom.

Tetra Pak Recycling Output

  • The Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment UK (ACE UK), in partnership with Sonoco Alcore, built a dedicated beverage carton recycling plant in Stainland, West Yorkshire. It launched in September 2013 and can recycle around 25,000 tons of beverage cartons manufactured each year.
  • The virgin wood fibers found in the cartons are used to create industrial-strength coreboard and other paper products in a facility on the same site as the carton recycling plant in West Yorkshire.
  • Aluminum and polymer components in the cartons are separated and baled for additional processing. They are used to build garden furniture, playmats, and building materials.
  • As of 2017, only 35% of local authorities sent cartons to the West Yorkshire facility. Still, most (around 57%) of local authorities that collect cartons for recycling have them processed elsewhere, including overseas.

Proposed next steps:

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