I was prompted to write this article today after sharing with two local friends that we had a recycling bin for tetrapak cartons just 3 miles from our home. Their looks of complete astonishment showed that the message is not getting out there. It’s clear from them, and from speaking to the recycling manager at Tetrapak that people are not aware of their local facilities and the message needs to be spread.
Tetrapaks are a popular method of packaging used widely by manufacturer’s for products such as fruit juice, long life milk, soups and sauces. They are lightweight and protect products well, which means food spoilage is kept to a minimum.
Tetrapaks are made up of several layers of different materials which is why they have been so difficult to recycle in the past.
Put simply, tetrapaks are rolls of printed paperboard laminated with polythene on the outside and with foil and polythene on the inside.
The paperboard used to make tetrapaks comes from wood from managed northern European forests. The paperboard provides strength and structure to the cartons.
Polythene on the outside protects the product from external moisture.
Aluminium foil is used to protect the product from light and oxygen to ensure the food doesn’t become contaminated, deteriorate or change flavour.
The polythene on the inside is used to seal in the liquid and provides a barrier to micro-organisms.
The good news is that recycling tetrapaks is now much easier in the UK. There are various sites throughout the country where you can take your cartons for recycling. Some lucky folk will find that they have kerbside collections for tetrapaks too.
Tetrapak cartons are made with between 70 and 90% paperboard, a renewable natural product. The reclaimed paper is made into cardboard boxes, office paper, kitchen rolls and tissues.
The remaining mix of plastic and aluminium is used in furniture, to generate energy or separated out into pure aluminium and paraffin.
Currently in the UK, around 9-10% of tetrapaks are recycled. This seems a low figure to me. Yet a phonecall to the tetrapak recycling manager informed me that in areas where they have kerbside collection, the rate of recycling goes up to 62%.
It seems that convenience and knowledge are the keys to success. We can’t help you with the convenience side of things, but we can help empower you with the knowledge of your nearest recycling facility.
Check out this interactive map Click on your area on the map and you’ll find a list of all the places you can take your cartons to.
To find out if your local authority have kerbside collection for tetrapak, type your postcode into the Recycle Now site. If your local authority do not offer kerbside collection, then why not call them or drop an email to register your interest? The more people who show interest, the more likely it is to happen.
The most important message I want to stress to people is to KEEP CHECKING the recycling bank locator page. Every couple of months, please check to see if things have changed. New recycling banks are appearing across the country all the time as awareness of the importance of recycling increases.
Let us know your thoughts – how easy is it for you to recycle tetrapaks in your area? Leave us a comment below!