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Councils offered free carton-recycling services

August 2, 2007 at 11:27 am

In an attempt to increase recycling rates in the United Kingdom, the carton manufacturer, Tetra Pak, has agreed to provide local councils with free carton recycling services. At the moment, some 2 billion Tetra Pak cartons are sold in the UK annually, but existing carton-recycling facilities are limited in nature. As it stands, it is not possible to deposit Tetra Pak cartons at the recycling facilities provided by most local councils. Tetra Pak intends to carry out this initiative with the help of the organization, Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment in the UK (ACE UK). Tetra Pak also hopes that its recycling initiative will help dispel commonly-held beliefs that cartons cannot be recycled at all.

The Tetra Pak recycling program will operate as follows. Tetra Pak cartons, which are usually produced using a combination of paper, plastic and metal, will be sent to the company’s reprocessing facility in Orebro, Sweden. At the moment, carton recycling facilities in the United Kngdom are highly limited, as John Rose, Tetra Pak’s director of marketing, notes, “The economic drivers for recycling cartons in the UK are not that strong and they are a tiny part (0.2%) of the waste stream. The technical level in the UK also means that most places require capital investment to be able to recycle cartons which with rising energy costs is hard to justify.”

This initiative is part of a broader plan by Tetra Pak to ensure that its production and distribution operations meet rigorous environmental standards. The company has spent several thousand pounds conducting research about the most cost-efficient methods of recycling its cartons. It has also engaged in consultations with public organisations such as Defra, WRAP and the LARAC. According to John Rose, “Carton recycling for us is something that needs to be sorted. Tetra Pak will provide a limited but full bring bank service to councils and our model is five banks per district. The response has been very positive from local authorities so far and at the moment we are putting bins on the ground for three to five councils every day.”

Tetra Pak’s recycling initiative is expected to last two years. The company hopes that this initiative will encourage the British government to improve carton-recycling facilities sufficiently so that local councils can take over the process once Tetra Pak has reduced its funding for the program. Kerbside collection points would allow residents to deposit empty cartons alongside other recyclable materials. The more households willing to contribute, the greater the impetus for reprocessing mills in the Unted Kingdom to develop their carton-recycling facilities. A Tetra Pak spokesman reiterated this view in a recent interview, stating: “If more volume comes through the business case will get better and better and we would hope to see a UK carton reprocessing facility in the not too distant future.”

Further information about Tetra Pak’s recycling initiative may be found at www.tetrapak.com.

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