Resource Use

Food and drink carton recycling pilot launched in Cornwall

A new partnership between Cornwall Council and The Alliance for Beverage Cartons and Environment (ACE UK) means that seven Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRC) across Cornwall will now accept cartons and paper cups for recycling.

The service is a two-year pilot being funded by ACE UK, which will also supply the new bring banks, representing its members Tetra Pak, Elopak and SIG Combibloc. All cartons and paper cups collected at the recycling banks will be taken to ACE UK's specialist facility near Halifax, which has been operating since 2013.

An estimated 450 tonnes of drinks cartons are left out for waste collection in Cornwall each year. Drinks cartons, like traditional coffee cups, are particularly difficult to recycle because of their composite nature, incorporating several materials including cardboard and plastic. With the new availability of the bring banks, residents are being encouraged to take their empty cartons and paper cups along with any waste or recycling that can't be collected by the council's kerbside collection service. Cornwall's Household Waste and Recycling Centres handle more than 80,000 tonnes of waste annually, of which more than half is sent for recycling.

Cornwall Council portfolio holder for environment and public protection Sue James commented: "People have been asking about recycling food and beverage cartons for some time, so I'm pleased ACE UK are working with us to provide this service at seven of our HWRCs, Having bring banks based at our HWRCs will allow people to bring their cartons with them when making a trip to their local centre.

"We know from surveys that residents want to be able to recycle more. While we can’t include this as part of our current kerbside collections we are asking the bidders for the 2020 kerbside collection contract to consider collecting additional materials, such as these cartons."

HWRCs with recycling banks for beverage cartons and paper cups can be found at: Connon Bridge, Falmouth, Helston, Launceston, St Austell, St Erth, and United Mines –  full details and locations can be found on the council’s website. Residents are advised to wash and squash cartons and replace the caps before placing in the bring banks – and only paper coffee-type cups should be deposited in the banks, no other cups can be accepted.

The Alliance for Beverage Cartons and Environment

Mandy Kelly, Senior Recycling Manager, ACE UK added: “It’s great news that food and drink cartons and paper cup recycling has now come to Cornwall. From our conversations with the Council we know residents are keen to recycle cartons, so we are extremely pleased to install bring banks at these seven sites – and of course all cartons and cups collected will be recycled here in the UK.”

ACE UK reported last year that 92 per cent of local authorities are collecting beverage cartons for recycling after ten years of recycling progress in the beverage carton industry. When the initiative was launched, only 10 per cent of local authorities collected beverage cartons for recycling, but by mid-2007, some 65 per cent were using a bring bank system, with a reduced 25 per cent sending cartons to landfill or incinerators. Now only eight per cent send cartons to landfill or incineration.

In October last year, a takeaway paper cup recycling programme run by ACE UK was funded by 14 organisations including McDonald’s, Starbucks and Greggs who committed to working towards a long-term and nationwide paper cup recycling solution. Because of this funding, since January this year all ACE UK bring banks have been accepting paper cups for recycling, delivering an additional 382 recycling points located in almost a hundred local authorities across the UK. A further 33 recycling points are scheduled to be introduced across an additional eight local authorities during the next phase. Cups from all these recycling points (including Cornwall) are processed at ACE UK’s recycling facility in Halifax.

ACE UK revealed on its website in May that it would be creating a new platform to drive action towards the recycling targets featured in the EU’s Circular Economy Packaging (CEP). The platform will be based in Frankfurt, Germany, and work with ACE to ensure that the beverage carton industry’s voice is heard by EU lawmakers, as well as collaborate with national carton industry associations, member company initiatives and other stakeholders.