Where can I recycle tetrapaks?

Filed in by on June 6, 2008 7 Comments

tetrapak cartons easier to recycle in the UK than ever before!

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!

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (7)

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  1. Queenie says:

    I wrote to my local council to ask if they were going to introduce Tetrapak recycling and they said they were “working on it”. Then I had a leaflet through my door telling me where and what I can recycle. I now take my tetrapaks to our local council recycling and landfill site where I am told to put them in with the cardboard?!! But if i were to put them in with my cardboard for kerbside collection it would refused. Crazy eh?!

  2. Mrs Green says:

    This is so confusing, Queenie. It makes writing articles for this website very difficult at times. It’s almost as if recycling in the UK is really in its infancy and some people are not sure what is happening; even those who are supposed to be in the know.
    I keep hearing contradictory information everywhere I look.

    Still, you’ve not found somewhere to recycle your tetrapaks it would seem, so that’s good. Did you check the interactive map on the Recycle Tetrapaks site to see if there is anything near you?

    Mrs G x

  3. Queenie says:

    I’ve had a look on the tetrapak website and for area (NW Leics) it says that there are local banks in my area. In fact it says that there is one at the swimming pool where I take DS for his lesson every thursday. I don’t understand why I have to put them in with the cardboard either Mrs G, they’re clearly NOT cardboard. Since you have pointed me in a much better and satisfactory direction I will be loading my tetrapaks in the back of my bike trailer and dropping them off there instead. Then I can sleep well at night knowing I have done the right thing :0)

  4. Mrs Green says:

    Oooo, good news! Those ‘official’ tetrapak recycling bins are turning up all over the place.
    It’s worth checking the site every couple of months or so to see what’s new in the area.
    I couldn’t believe my luck when one turned up just 3 miles from our home :)

    Glad you’ve found something that will help you sleep better :)

    Sweet dreams!

    mrs g x

  5. Sadie says:

    I’ve just stumbled across your website and read with interest the websites linked regarding tetrapak recycling. Being a family of 4 that use soya / rice milk daily the vast majority of our household waste is tetrapak cartons.

    On the back of seeing that I live in one of only 3 cities in the whole of the west midlands that do not have any places to recycle tetrapak I have emailed the person in charge at the city council to see if they can get something setup. At least there is somewhere in the next town now – when I looked into it a couple of years ago and we had nowhere remotely close, though it does most likely mean a special journey which discounts much of the environmental benefits of recycling them in the first place.

    Great article – I look forward to reading more like it.

  6. Fumblina says:

    We have had 3 put in Reading recently, and was very happy that we got one near to us.

    I was wondering who pays for the bins though.. presumably the council?

    Assuming that this is the case then I wonder why they don’t just have one big one in the recycling sorting depot instead so we can put them in with our mixed kerbside waste. The take up would be much greater, unless they don’t think they could cope with the extra volume.

  7. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Sadie,

    Lovely to see you here – thank you for taking the time to leave us a comment.

    I can’t believe your ‘luck’ – to be one of only 3 cities in the whole of the west midlands that does not have tetrapak recycling; what are the odds of that!

    Hopefully this will change soon and making your voice heard to the council might help. I would urge you to keep checking back on the Tetrapak site, because these places do have a tendency to appear overnight.

    Hi Fumblina!

    Good news that there is a tetrapak recycling place near you now – that should assure Sadie that news ones are put in all across the country too.

    I’ve no idea who pays for the bins. I’ve seen a name on ours that is not connecting with the council. I’ll check it out next time I’m there and find out something about them. I had a feeling they were not linked with the council at all, but don’t quote me on that……

    Mrs G x

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