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Carton Recycling Now Available for 62% of U.S. Households

Mario Tama/Getty Images aseptic food cartons
Cartons can now display a “Please Recycle” logo under the Federal Trade Commission.

The Carton Council of North America has announced that 62 percent of households in the U.S. can now recycle food and beverage cartons through curbside and drop-off programs.

In January 2017, carton recycling became available for 60 percent of households, passing the Federal Trade Commission threshold that allowed food and beverage cartons to display the “Please Recycle” logo. Since then, carton recycling has become available to an additional 2.5 million households.

“Last year built upon nearly a decade of significant growth in carton recycling” said Jason Pelz, vice president of recycling projects for the Carton Council of North America, in a statement. “Not only did we continue to hit new milestones in household access, but this progress spurred increased consumer awareness, new industry collaborations and innovative technology and end market solutions to increase carton recycling efficiency.”

Currently, 13,300 different communities across 49 states have access to carton recycling, and 82 of the 100 largest cities in the country have carton recycling available.

The Carton Council was created in 2009 to develop greater infrastructure for recycling aseptic and gable-top food and beverage cartons. At the time of the council’s forming, 18 percent of households in the U.S. had access to carton recycling.

The council mentioned several developments as factors in the increase to 62 percent availability, including an expanded market for recycled carton material, technological advances like robotic sorters that remove cartons from the recycling stream and collaboration with organizations such as Keep America Beautiful and The Recycling Partnership.

In February 2017, the Carton Council launched its first digital education campaign with digital resources to help spread awareness of carton recycling within both communities and companies.

“We recognize that building the infrastructure for carton recycling alone isn’t going to get people to recycle their cartons,” said Pelz in a statement. “We are looking at the full picture. This includes consumer education, engaging everyone in the supply chain, developing effective end markets and leveraging new technologies so that carton recycling is economically and environmentally beneficial for all.”

Going forward in 2018, the Carton Council will continue to work with brands to add “Please Recycle” logos to their packaging. The council also hopes to expand end market solutions and to work toward technological advancements that will make carton recycling more efficient.

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