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Now is the time to go all in on Recycling!

April 9, 2019

This guest blog is provided by the Carton Council.

The first quarter of 2019 is almost over and the recycling crisis continues to receive significant attention, including in the mainstream media.  Residents may question if recycling is still worth it at a time when we need them to recycle more and more carefully. In the meantime, those in the industry are hard at work determining new strategies to ensure every material that can be recycled gets its chance at a second life in a sustainable way.

For food and beverage cartons, there is good news. The packaging option that is used for products like milk, juice, cream, water, soup, broth, beans and wine, has seen carton recycling access expand to over 63 percent of the U.S. We know that residents want to recycle their cartons and believe they are recyclable. A survey released last year found that 79 percent of consumers report they always or occasionally recycle their food and beverage cartons.

The Carton Council is also working to ensure there are solid end markets available for sorting facilities to send their cartons Food and beverage cartons contain valuable fiber that is in demand. To get the highest value out of cartons, facilities should sort them by themselves into Grade #52. Expanding end markets for Grade #52 include: 

  • Upcycling Technologies (formerly known as The ReWall Company), which turns recycled food and beverage cartons into environmentally friendly building materials, is opening a new facility in Colorado expanding end markets for post-consumer cartons in the western U.S. Expected to open in May 2019, the facility will process about 20 million pounds a year of aseptic and gable top cartons. The process utilizes the entire carton to create ecofriendly roof cover board, exterior sheathing, wallboard, floor underlayment and other building materials. The process uses no chemicals or water, and every truckload of finished products prevents nearly 600,000 cartons from going to landfills.
  • Continuus in Iowa also utilizes food and beverage cartons to make environmentally friendly building and construction materials.
  • Chinese company Ecomelida announced plans to launch operations in South Carolina in 2019, which will bring a new market to the southeastern part of the U.S. and upwards of 200 recycling industry jobs stateside. This facility is expected to be ready to take cartons in early 2020.
  • Kimberly-Clark de México, a producer of tissue and toweling products, added new pulping capacity to enable consumption of post-consumer aseptic and gable top cartons. The company is able to purchase 500 to 1,000 tons of food and beverage cartons per month.
  • Paper Corea, Inc., in South Korea recently installed a new pulping system at its Gunsan facility to use post-consumer aseptic and gable top cartons, Grade #52.
  • Sustana Fox River Fiber in Wisconsin and Great Lakes Tissue in Michigan continue to be strong domestic users of Grade #52 food and beverage cartons.

A critical component of success for these recyclers is ensuring communities provide a steady stream of cartons. From helping assist communities with resident education, to working with MRFs to provide counsel or equipment for sorting, the Carton Council is here to help. The Carton Council has been working hard in collaboration with all stakeholders in the recycling value chain to build an infrastructure for sustainable carton recycling in the U.S. and wants to help your community become one of more than 13,600 communities that recycles cartons. Contact us at to talk about how we can help ensure food and beverage cartons are included in your recycling program or visit

NERC welcomes guest blog submissions. To inquire about submitting articles contact Lynn Rubinstein.

Disclaimer: Guest blogs represent the opinion of the writers and may not reflect the policy or position of the Northeast Recycling Council, Inc.


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