Easily recognizable, cartons are types of packaging for food and beverage products and there are two types: refrigerated or gable-top and shelf-stable or aseptic.
Shelf-stable cartons are pretty self explanatory as they are mostly used for wine, juice, broth, milk, soup and soy milk. Chilled sections of your local grocery store will store milk, egg substitutes, juice and cream.
Other products that are also called cartons are take-out cartons and ice cream cartons. These are not the same – from a recycling point – and not included in the proper definition of cartons.
There are three materials layered together to make a carton: aluminum, paper and plastic. The ratios are approximately 74 percent paper, 22 percent plastic and 4 percent aluminum. Refrigerated cartons are 80 percent paper, 20 percent plastic and skip the aluminum.
Can you recycle cartons? Yes – the belief that you cannot recycle cartons is false. Since they are made mostly from paper, there is a high demand to make them into new products. The Carton Council was formed by manufacturers of cartons to increase carton recycling access across the United States. From 18 percent in 2008 to 37 percent in 2011, carton recycling has more than doubled.
Why you should recycle your cartons.
For one thing it keeps unnecessary waste out of landfills but it doesn’t stop there. You will be saving trees since the paper in cartons comes from this renewable resource. What does that mean? You will be conserving energy because you chose a sustainable product package!
Due to their efficient product to packaging ration, cartons require fewer natural resources to transport them. A product sold in a shelf-stable carton is 94 percent product and 6 percent packaging. Since they can be shipped using fewer trucks, fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions are reduced.
Another benefit is that after they have been recycled, the materials used in cartons make them very desirable for remanufacturing into new products because of the high quality materials used in making cartons. All three materials – paper – plastic and aluminum can be repurposed.