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Cartons are a type of packaging for food and beverage products you can purchase at the store. They are easy to recognize and are available in two types—shelf-stable and refrigerated.
Shelf-stable cartons for products such as juice, milk, soy milk, soup, broth and wine are found on the shelves in grocery stores.
Refrigerated cartons for products such as milk, juice, cream, and egg substitutes are found in the refrigerated section in grocery stores.
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Cartons are primarily made from paper, with a thin layer of polyethylene (plastic). Shelf-stable cartons contain a layer of aluminum as well, whereas refrigerated cartons do not.
With an average of 94% product and only 6% packaging, cartons use the least amount of materials possible, helping to preserve our Earth’s precious resources. You can find cartons on the shelf, like broths, soups and soy milk, or in the refrigerated section, like milk, creamer and juice.
Simply empty your cartons and place them in your recycling bin. If your recycling program collects materials as "single-stream," you may place your cartons in your bin with all the other recyclables. If your recycling program collects materials as "dual-stream" (paper items separate from plastic, metal and glass), please place cartons with your plastic, metal, and glass containers.
The majority of households in the U.S. now have access to carton recycling through curbside or drop-off programs. To learn whether you are able to recycle cartons in your community, enter your zip code here.
Yes. Our network can recycle them on your behalf. Mailing in your cartons is easy.
Step 1: Make sure cartons are empty and dry. Keep the cap on and push any straws into the cartons. You can crush your cartons to save space.
Step 2: Address your cartons to one of the three locations listed below. Choose whichever location is closest to you. Include proper postage and write "cartons" on the front of your package.
If a facility is listed below, Carton Council has confirmed it is currently accepting cartons via mail. Please note that locations are not able to confirm receipt of packages. When shipments arrive at a facility, the cartons are emptied from the box and deposited with cartons already at the facility and the shipping box is recycled.
Click here to learn about more options if carton recycling is not yet available in your area.
Good question. The answer is no. Once cartons arrive at your local sorting center, they will be sorted separately from the rest of the materials. In the end, as long as all cartons are sorted together, the material will then be recycled.
No. Please place cartons with the cap intact into the bin.
No, you do not need to rinse your cartons. As long as the carton is empty, it is okay to place in your recycling.
No, you should not flatten your carton. Optic sorters used at Material Recovery Facilities have a higher chance of recognizing cartons for proper sorting while containers still retain their 3D shape. This means cartons can be sorted more efficiently in their 3D form and should not be crushed, folded or flattened in any way before entering the recycle bin.
Yes! Recycled cartons are turned into products you use every day, like tissue paper or office paper, or even building materials, like ceiling and roofing tiles. And these “new” products are better for the environment, too. Producing recycled paper creates 74% less air pollution and 35% less water pollution than producing paper from virgin fibers.
What you may see as wax on a carton is actually a thin layer of polyethylene or plastic, which is recyclable too. Feel free to recycle cartons with this shiny coating.
The aluminum/plastic combination left over can be used in different ways. Some mills are using the material for generating energy; others sell it to plastic manufacturers that use them for lumber board-like materials. In some cases, the material ends up in a landfill. Better solutions for the leftover materials are under consideration. In the case of building materials, the whole carton is used and the carton's polyethylene plastic becomes the binding system that holds the boards together in Continuus' products.
About 400 cartons can make up each 4’x8’ Continuus Material board. Each truckload of Continuus’ products can remove almost 300,000 cartons from the landfill.
Yes! Cartons are great for building materials because they are inherently moisture and mold resistant – just like you want your ceiling and roofing tiles to be.
It is a group of carton packaging manufacturers united to grow carton recycling in the US. The members of the Carton Council are Elopak, Evergreen, SIG Combibloc, and Tetra Pak.