Food Engineering
Food Packaging

Making renewable and recyclable cartons sustainable

Taking down the barriers to carton recycling helps to make cartons more recycle friendly for consumers.

March 8, 2014
Carton packaging is sustainable and is becoming more accessible to US households.
Carton packaging is sustainable and is becoming more accessible to US households. Evergreen Packaging is developing an infrastructure and end markets while promoting local collection programs for cartons. Source: Evergreen Packaging. 

Sustainability is a consumer trend that is transforming the packaging industry. The top three concerns in relation to beverage packaging include recycling or landfilling, renewable resources and energy, said Erin Reynolds, marketing director at Evergreen Packaging, at last year’s Sustainable Packaging Forum in St. Petersburg, FL.

At the forum, Evergreen Packaging presented the renewable and recyclable attributes of paper carton packaging. “Over 56 million US households have access to carton recycling. Over 70 percent of the [paper] carton is made from renewable resources—the paper comes from trees grown in forests where responsible practices are used. Over 50 percent of the energy used to turn the trees into this paper comes from renewable energy such as biomass,” said Reynolds.

Evergreen is a member of the Carton Council, a group of carton manufacturers united to deliver long-term, collaborative solutions to divert cartons from landfills. Reynolds reported that back in December 2012, only  41.3 percent of US households had access to carton recycling, up from the 34.6 percent of households with access in January 2012. 

Evergreen, in collaboration with the nonprofit Carton Council, is implementing a carton recycling strategy with the objective of developing markets that accept cartons.

Reynolds says the Carton Council is working with individual communities and local entities, as well as municipalities, haulers and material recovery facilities, to align and ensure interest in carton recycling throughout the economic chain. The Carton Council is working to promote recycling technology and local collection programs to limit the amount of cartons going to waste. “We have to be sure the infrastructure is there to handle cartons. We have to stay focused on developing end markets; otherwise there is no viable business strategy,” says Reynolds. Eight commercial paper mills in North America have agreements to reprocess cartons into paper products and building materials. Some of the end markets include tissue products such as napkins and paper towels, she says.

In her presentation at the forum, Reynolds focused on how Evergreen is helping to take down the barriers to carton recycling and discussed how to make cartons more recycle friendly. For example, using the carton’s panels  graphically and textually to tell the story of the carton would engage consumers, give them information where they want it and make it easy to take the steps toward carton recycling. This also brings consumers closer to a more eco-friendly lifestyle, she states. 

 

For more information:

 Erin Reynolds, Evergreen Packaging, 901-821-2247, www.evergreenpackaging.com