Beverage cartons are made from two or three main materials, depending on whether the carton is for long or short shelf-life products:
All of the materials used in the manufacture of beverage cartons are recyclable at end of life, helping to reduce the use of virgin materials and cut carbon emissions.
The high-quality wood fibres in cartons are long and strong, and can be recycled up to six times, making them a valuable raw material for new paper and board products. At the UK recycling facility, opened in September 2013, the reprocessed fibre is recycled into tubes and cores, which are used to wrap paper, man-made fibre yarns, and metal and plastic film around for industrial applications.
The aluminium and plastic can either be recycled together, into composite materials, such as stationery, or separately to produce products including fuel (from the polymers) or aluminium flakes for new products, such as cars. Several different approaches for recycling and/or recovering this fraction are currently being assessed and a UK solution will be in place in 2014. The polythene and aluminium will be stored until then – it will not be landfilled or exported.
Beverage carton recycling in the UK