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Only 1 in 10 Laminated Beverage Cartons Currently Recycled in the UK

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Only 1 in 10 Laminated Beverage Cartons Currently Recycled in the UK

Only 1 in 10 Laminated Beverage Cartons Currently Recycled in the UK
October 30
08:13 2017

Frugalpac, creators of the first recyclable coffee cup, continues its mission to make significant improvements in the recycling rates of everyday packaging, with the launch of the Frugal Carton. Launching in 2018,  the Frugal Carton sees the conventional laminated beverage carton reinvented so that it can now be processed at any paper recycling facility in the UK.

Conventional cartons are made of a laminate of several layers of plastic, tightly bonded to cardboard – this combination of materials prevents cartons from breaking down within any standard recycling process. Cardboard is recycled by mixing it with water in a large pulping tank and the paper then breaks down into fibre elements, similar to the way a child makes paper maché. Normally, cardboard breaks down within approximately 30 minutes of emersion, but the waterproof nature of the existing cartons means that they remain intact well beyond 30 minutes. As a consequence, the cartons are not acceptable in standard paper mills, and have to be recycled in a specialist facility. There is only one specialist recycling facility in the UK (Halifax) operated by ACE Sonoco and funded by the carton manufacturers.

ACE is able to breakdown existing cartons by raising the temperature of the water, adding chemicals and by extending the time of reprocessing. This process generates recycled cardboard, but the plastic waste is burnt in waste for energy plants. ACE needs a special collection system and states that ‘the proportion of UK local authorities collecting beverage cartons for recycling from kerbside has hit 66%.’

Approximately 2 billion cartons are purchased in the UK every year; whilst ACE state they receive cartons from 35% of local authorities, an independent report from Intertek estimates that less than 10% of cartons are recycled at the ACE plant every year.

The Frugalpac solution is not to change the infrastructure, but instead to reinvent the way the carton is made. The Frugal Carton is made by creating layers that are not bonded together; the outer shell is made from 100% paperboard and within the outer shell sits a foil bag which provides the carton with its waterproof layer. As the foil bag is not bonded to the outer paperboard shell, this can easily be separated by the consumer in the same way that they would remove the bag from inside a Kelloggs cereal box. The paperboard then breaks down quickly and efficiently in all standard paper mills. The carton looks like an existing carton and has the same performance in terms of shelf life etc.

In order to dispose of the carton, the consumer tears off the top and disposes of the foil bag. The cardboard shell can then be put in the recycling bin. At the MRF, the outer cardboard shell is treated exactly the same way as normal cardboard (the UK recycling rates for cardboard are approximately 80%). Just like a wine box, even if the consumer does not separate the foil bag from the outer paperboard shell, the carton will still be recycled in a standard paper mill.

CEO of Frugalpac, Martin Myerscough (pictured) comments: I am delighted to be able to announce the launch of the Frugal Carton, following on from the Frugal Cup. The Frugal Carton fits well within our company’s ambition to make significant improvements in the recycling rates of everyday packaging.”

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