Where can I recycle?

Food and drink cartons of all shapes and sizes are recyclable. Increasingly they are being collected as part of household recycling schemes but in some parts of the country, they have to be recycled at local recycling centres. Check the postcode locator or ask your council how you can recycle cartons in your local area.

How should I recycle my cartons?

Find out if your council accepts cartons and where to recycle them. For some people it will simply be a case of popping them into your recycling bin. For others, wash and squash them, put them in a box or bag, then take them to the recycling centre when you’re next passing that way.

What are cartons made from?

Cartons are a composite packaging material – in other words they are not made from paper alone but comprise of about 75% paper, 20% plastic (polyethylene) and 5% aluminium foil (for long-life products).

How are they recycled?

Baled cartons are dropped into a pulper, similar to a giant domestic food mixer, filled with water and pulped for 20 minutes.  This delaminates the packaging, allowing the aluminium foil and polyethylene to be separated from the paper fibres which are recovered to make new paper products.  The non-fibre remainder can be used in a number of applications including garden furniture and roofing materials.

See this great little animated video on how cartons are recycled:

Where are cartons recycled?

In September 2013, the UK’s only beverage carton recycling facility was opened in Stainland, near Halifax, West Yorkshire. The plant is capable of recycling up to 40% (25,000 tonnes) of the cartons manufactured for the UK market each year. The industry has created this video to show the actual process of carton recycling in this facility:

Can cartons be reused?

Why not make a planter from your cartons? Cut the top off the carton, put a few small holes in the bottom for drainage, fill it with potting soil and plant your seed. The carton can be reused again for other seedlings.