ACE PRESS RELEASE: Introduction of dedicated beverage carton sorting in Ireland

The Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment – ACE Ireland has announced a new partnership with leading waste management provider Panda aimed at significantly improving the recycling process of cartons placed on the Irish market. As part of the collaboration, ACE Ireland funded the installation of state-of-the-art robotic sorting technology at Panda’s materials recovery facility (MRF) in Ballymount, Dublin.

Using ground-breaking artificial intelligence as accurate as a human eye, the new robot will identify, pick, and sort cartons at the MRF into their own dedicated streams. The sorted materials will then be sent onwards to ACE’s specialised carton recycling facility in the UK operated by Sonoco Stainland.

Chief Executive of ACE Ireland, Richard Hands said: “Beverage cartons are a sustainable, recyclable, and renewable packaging choice used by households across Ireland and the UK. As an industry, we are committed to increasing carton recycling rates and improving recycling practices through targeted investment, the development of new technology, and working with industry partners.

The carton industry has set a target of achieving a 70% recycling rate by 2030. The launch of dedicated sorting at Ireland’s largest MRF is an important step in meeting that target, while increasing pressure on neighbours across the Irish Sea not to fall behind in the race to a circular economy.”

The automated sorting technology, which was developed by Recycleye and Fanuc, has the capacity to deliver 33,000 picks over a ten-hour shift. Capable of scanning, detecting, and picking materials across 28 classes including beverage cartons, the sorter is quick and easy to install over existing recycling lines with minimal disruption to the operation of the MRF. This offers MRFs a real option to drive recycling innovation by separating materials like beverage cartons, while lowering the cost of automated sorting.

While the Republic of Ireland operates a 100% kerbside collection system for household mixed dry recycling, the UK risks lagging behind with carton collections available in around 66% of local authorities across the UK.

ACE UK is committed to achieving a 90% collection and 70% recycling rate for cartons by 2030. The successful implementation of automated sorting technology in Ireland illustrates what can be achieved with constructive partnership between Government and industry.

ACE UK has welcomed the UK Government’s progress developing an Extended Producer Responsibility scheme to fund a more comprehensive recycling system from 2024, and the implementation of a new Fibre-Based Composites collection target from 2026. However, the delayed publication of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ Consistent Household Collection reforms has left England lagging behind its neighbours successfully implementing comprehensive kerbside collections of commonly used materials, including beverage cartons.

The Alliance is calling on UK policymakers to end recycling policy uncertainty by publishing its plans for the UK’s roadmap to a more sustainable circular economy.


The Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE) UK represents Tetra PakElopak and SIG Combibloc, the leading manufacturers of food and drink cartons for the UK and European markets. ACE UK’s objective is to promote food and drink cartons as a renewable, fully recyclable and low carbon packaging choice and delivers environmental initiatives in the UK on behalf of our members.

Follow us on Twitter: @CartonRecycling


Media and further inquiries: Ross Melton, Tel: 0044 7493867457 / 0044 2074572807; E-mail: