Tetra Pak and KMK Paper maximising value from carton recycling

Tetra Pak teamed up with KMK Paper, a prominent Turkish paper producer, in 2016 to explore innovative ways of extracting maximum value from waste cartons. Our collaboration aimed to embrace circular economy1 principles and create an effective value chain for recycling carton packages.

Background and initiative – unlocking the full potential of carton recycling

Traditionally, beverage carton recycling predominantly focused on recovering fibres from used packages. However, to unlock the full potential of carton recycling, the challenge lies in efficiently utilising not only the carton’s fibres, but also its polymers and aluminium components. A comprehensive solution was needed to maximise resource recovery and create new market opportunities for recycled carton materials.

Hand with polyAl granule

Image: PolyAl granules can be used to manufacture various products

Results – a new plant to transform waste into value

With the development of a circular value chain in mind, the collaboration between Tetra Pak and KMK Paper embarked on a journey to optimise carton recycling. They successfully demonstrated the importance of efficiently recovering long and strong fibers from cartons for sustainable paper production. Moreover, recognising the untapped potential of polymers and aluminum in cartons, the collaboration established a polyAl2 granule production plant. This forward-thinking solution allowed for the conversion of these materials into marketable secondary raw materials for various plastic products.

The results of Tetra Pak and KMK Paper's collaboration have been highly promising. By leveraging their circular value chain approach, they have transformed waste cartons into valuable resources, creating a wide base of waste suppliers and optimising plant capacity utilisation. The introduction of polyAl granules as a versatile end-product has been well-received in the market, opening up new avenues for sustainable plastic production.

Looking ahead – growing the recycled carton market

Building on their successful collaboration, Tetra Pak and KMK Paper are committed to advancing carton recycling further. The journey doesn't end with the polyAl granule production plant; both parties are continuously exploring innovative solutions and end-product development programs to maximise the recyclability of carton packages. Their focus remains on embracing sustainability, supporting circular economy principles, and expanding the market for recycled carton materials.

Pallets made of polyAl granule

Image: Crates made from polyAl

1The circular economy refers to a system in which materials never become waste and are kept in circulation through processes including recycling, reuse and composting. It tackles environmental challenges by decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources. Source: Ellenmacarthurfoundation.org, What is a circular economy?

2The non-fibre component of carton packages is known as polyAl, which designates the layers of polyolefins and aluminium being used as barrier against oxygen and humidity to protect the food content in aseptic carton packages.


Companies involved

Tetra Pak contacts
Aydeniz Volkan
Pishro Asefeh