Half of UK local authorities now collect cartons

carton recycling Half of all UK local authorities now offer residents kerbside recycling collections for beverage cartons, figures collected by the Alliance for Beverage Cartons & the Environment (ACE) UK have revealed.

According to ACE UK, this figure represents a 12-fold increase on 2006 levels and follows a ‘sustained, close cooperation’ between the alliance and its members – Tetra Pak, Elopak and SIG Combibloc – with local authorities and consumer groups. ACE UK adds that though 50 per cent of authorities offer kerbside colelctions, when its own bring-bank systems for used beverage cartons are included, this figure rises to 89 per cent.

Reportedly, each year approximately 60,000 tonnes of paper based cartons are used in the UK, equating to around 2.3 kilograms of cartons per household.

Although cartons only account for 0.2 per cent of household waste, ACE UK state ‘there a number of benefits to recycling them – not least diverting materials from landfill, and reducing raw material emissions’.

A spokesperson for ACE UK told Resource the increased amount of local authorities that offer beverage carton recycling is significant because there is still a misconception that cartons are difficult to recycle.

However, ACE UK says that recycling beverage cartons has been made simpler with the introduction of a pulping process, where the paperboard and non-fibre layers are separated and turned into new materials.

“Extremely Pleased”

Ceredigion County Council became the most recent local authority to add beverage carton recycling to its kerbside collections, becoming the 203rd local authority (of the UK’s 406 authorities) to do so.

Ceredigion Councillor Alun Williams, Cabinet Member for Transport, Waste and Carbon Management, said: “Ceredigion County Council is always looking for ways to improve its recycling rate and our efforts are greatly assisted by the active participation of Ceredigion residents. We're delighted that on 1 April we were able to start collecting cartons along with other recyclable material and helped push coverage of kerbside collections by local authorities to over 50 per cent in the UK.”

Richard Hands, Chief Executive of ACE UK, said: “In the year that the UK’s only dedicated recycling facility for cartons is scheduled to open, we are extremely pleased that our strategy to increase kerbside collection and make it easier for residents to recycle cartons is also paying dividends. 

“In addition to Ceredigion County Council, we would also like to praise the 11 Northern Ireland councils which form the arc21 waste management group. All have now introduced kerbside collection of cartons and plan to send them to the new Sonoco Alcore plant for recycling.” 

Linda Crichton, Head of Collections & Quality Programme at WRAP, added: “The 50 per cent kerbside collection figure is tribute to the efforts of ACE UK and its members. It marks a real milestone and bodes well for the future of carton recycling in the UK. We will continue to support the carton industry in their strategy to increase the rate even further.” 


UK’s ‘only beverage carton reprocessing facility’

A further boost is anticipated later this year with the opening of the UK’s only beverage carton reprocessing facility at the Sonoco Alcore paper mill near Halifax, West Yorkshire.

Reportedly, the facility will be capable of recycling 25,000 tonnes of cartons sorted from household and commercial waste streams, saving an average of 288 tonnes of CO2 per year (due to reduced transport miles). Cartons collected from 187 local authority areas are set to come to the new plant for recycling.

Read more about the Halifax beverage carton reprocessing facility.