Sydney, Australia

Carton recycling myths debunked

Cheryl Speechley, Environment Manager, Tetra Pak® Oceania, helps to dispel some myths about carton recycling.

stack of Tetra Pak cartons

Myth 1: Cartons are composed of multiple materials, so they must be hard to recycle.

Cartons are multi-layer packages, and Tetra Pak's cartons are predominantly made paperboard with layers of polyethylene and aluminium. The recycling process for this type of package is surprisingly simple. Once collected and baled, they are sent to a paper mill. The fibre is extracted and mixed with water to create pulp in a hydrapulper, which is like a blender. Some recyclers also use the separated polyethylene and aluminium as feedstock. For example, in Malaysia it is used to make roofing tiles while others use it as fuel to power their facility.

Myth 2: Cartons have a wax coating which makes them difficult to recycle.

The first point to clarify is cartons don't have a wax coating. What you may think is wax, is actually a thin layer of polyethylene, used to protect the paperboard against moisture. As mentioned in myth 1, cartons are not difficult to recycle as long as the right systems are in place to do so.

Myth 3: I can put anything in my recycling bin. Somebody else will sort it out.

What you put in your recycling bin makes a huge difference. When the right things go into recycling bins, the collected recyclables have less contamination and therefore can be made more cheaply into a broader range of products. When rubbish is put into recycling bins, recycling becomes more expensive.

Check the recycling section of our website or Planet Ark's Recycling Near You for information about the recycling and waste services in your area.

Myth 4 : Recycling is my contribution to the environment.

Many people who say this often mean, "household recycling is all I need to do to live sustainably." Given the ease with which everyone can recycle, it's often the first step on the environmental ladder.

Myth 5: Containers should be thoroughly cleaned with labels removed before putting them in your recycling bin.

Rinsing excess food from containers helps to reduce odours and discourage vermin. And dry containers are better, so as not to contaminate paper and cardboard in commingled recycling containers.

Myth 6: It doesn't matter what I put in my recycling bin, because it all ends up in landfill.

This myth is perpetuated by people eager for an excuse not to recycle. Recyclable materials have the potential to become new products, and residents play a vital role by making these materials available.

Visit Planet Ark's Recycling Near You.

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