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EU carton recycling rate rises again to 42%

03/07/2014 EU carton recycling rate rises again to 42%

The Alliance for Beverage Cartons & the Environment (ACE) UK has welcomed the latest figures on carton recycling in the EU*, showing that 42% of beverage cartons were recycled in 2013, equivalent to approximately 400,000 tonnes of cartons.

​This is a rise of 3% on the 2012 figure and follows the 3% rise recorded the year before in 2011. The total recovery rate (comprising recycling and energy recovery) has now reached 71% across the EU.

Richard Hands, Chief Executive of ACE UK, which represents carton manufacturers Tetra Pak, Elopak and SIG Combibloc, said: “This latest rise in carton recycling rates across the EU, building on the 3% rise in the previous year, really is encouraging.”

In 2013 the UK’s first dedicated recycling facility for beverage cartons opened in Stainland, Yorkshire. The facility, a partnership between ACE UK, and global paper and packaging manufacturer Sonoco Alcore, is expected to transform beverage carton recycling in the UK.

“Alongside the opening of this game-changing facility for UK beverage carton recycling, the number of UK local authorities collecting cartons at kerbside for recycling has risen to 57% from just 31% as recently as 2011”, Hands added. “And when carton recycling bring banks are included 91% of local authorities now collect cartons for recycling.  This progress marks a significant shift in providing incentives for local authorities to collect cartons, so making it easier for consumers to recycle them and providing an environmental packaging choice for manufacturers.”

Beverage cartons are easily recycled using a simple pulping process, where the paperboard and non-fibre layers are separated and turned into new materials. The wood fibres can be used to produce new 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.

ACE UK has a dedicated recycling team which offers advice and support to local authorities and community recycling networks wishing to collect cartons. An interactive map on the ACE UK website ( also helps residents find out where and how they can recycle beverage cartons in their area.

*EU 28 member states plus Norway and Switzerland.

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Beverage carton recycling in the UK

  • Total no. of
  • Local authorities collecting
    354 (93%)
  • Local authorities collecting cartons from kerbside 250 (66%)
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