Beverage carton recycling plant to open in UK in 2013

A new beverage carton recycling plant is to open in 2013, the UK branch of Alliance for Beverage Cartons & the Environment (ACE UK) and paper and packaging producer Sonoco Alcore announced today (25 June).

The beverage carton reprocessing facility will be built as an extension to Sonoco Alcore’s existing plant near Halifax, West Yorkshire, and will become the UK’s only beverage carton recycling facility since the closure of the Smith Anderson paper mill in Scotland in 2006.

Every year, 60,000 tonnes of beverage cartons go on the market in the UK. Capable of recycling 25,000 tonnes of cartons collected from household and commercial waste streams by local authorities and their waste management contractors, the plant could potentially save an average of 288 tonnes of CO2 per year (due to reduced transport miles) and reduce landfill taxes and gate fees by approximately £3.4 million in 2012 and by £3.6 million in 2013.

Richard Hands, Chief Executive of ACE UK, announced the plans today saying: “This decision underlines the firm commitment of our members – Tetra Pak, SIG Combibloc and Elopak – to constantly improve the environmental performance of their beverage cartons."

"The already low carbon footprint will become even lower, valuable materials will go back into the UK economy and local authorities can meet the expectations of many householders that their waste should be reprocessed in this country. We are confident that by the end of Year 1 (December 2013) a further 10 local authorities will have started collecting cartons in their kerbside service, sending them to the new mill for recycling by ACE UK and Sonoco Alcore.”

The beverage cartons will be recycled for their high-quality wood fibres that will be recovered for new paperboard consumer and industrial products, such as the tubes for cling film rolls and the cores for rolls of textiles.

Adam Wood, Vice President of Industrial Converting for Sonoco Alcore, Europe, said: “Our company has a long history of recycling and reuse, and this opportunity with ACE UK strengthens our focus on sustainability. This partnership provides us with the fibre we need to produce our engineered tubes and cores, and we are looking forward to receiving a growing stream of cartons.

Wood went on to say: “Additionally, as an integrated manufacturer, it is important for us to know our material sources and we know ACE UK members are committed to sourcing from responsibly managed forests. This partnership has brought real business benefits to our UK operations while supporting our sustainable business practices.”

Linda Crichton, Head of Collections & Quality at WRAP, also welcomed the announcement, saying: “This announcement of a new UK-based reprocessing capacity for beverage cartons is welcomed by WRAP. With the steady increase in collections of cartons for recycling over recent years the ability to now recycle these in the UK is good news for local authorities and their waste management contractors. I’m sure it will also encourage others to add cartons to their kerbside recycling services.”

ACE UK has also pledged to continue to find other ways of collecting beverage cartons for recycling, including on-the-go recycling bins on transport systems or in the street, as well as through the catering sector.