US packaging industry competitors unite for sustainability

Four of the United States’ leading carton manufacturers have joined forces to help advance improvements to carton recycling infrastructure across the country.

The formation of the Carton Council by Tetra Pak, Elopak, Evergreen Packaging and SIG Combibloc signals an unusual move by companies who are strong industry competitors.

However, a shared commitment to sustainability has brought them together as they seek to improve environmental performance of their products.

The Council is specifically committed to increasing carton recycling in the US.

By promoting both recycling technology and local collection programs, it believes it can help limit the number of cartons that become waste.

Cartons are an effective form of liquid food and beverage packaging and play an important role in protecting their nutritional value.

Chilled kitchen staples like milk and orange juice have long been packaged in traditional gable top cartons.

Increasingly, aseptic cartons are being utilized for food products and beverages like soups and broths, organic milk, soy milk, wine and juices, as a means to make them “shelf stable,” eliminating the need for preservatives and refrigeration.

The Council will also encourage consumers to consider the environmental impact of product packaging before they make a purchase.

Both gable top and aseptic cartons are made primarily from paper, a renewable resource that is highly recyclable.

In general, cartons have a smaller carbon footprint than traditional packages.

“We are very proud that the environmental impact of cartons already is among the lowest in the packaging industry,” Carton Council executive director Ed Klein said.

“Cartons are source-reduced and made primarily of paper, a renewable resource, from responsibly sourced, well-managed forests.

“But we want to take our commitments to the next level, and that’s where significantly increasing recycling comes in.”

Klein noted that the Council plans to work with communities that wish to add cartons to their recycling programs and will serve as a resource and forum for carton education.

Currently, communities in 26 states in the US are able to recycle cartons which give more than 60 million people access to carton recycling.

“This is significant but we are not satisfied. We want to increase the number of communities that recycle cartons, and we want to inform consumers in those communities that they can recycle their cartons and motivate them to do so,” Klein said.

One of the first alliances from the Carton Council to increase carton recycling is with Waste Management, which has agreed to include cartons in all their recycling programs.

Also working closely with the Council is Tropicana brand.

Recently, Tropicana, Waste Management & the Carton Council announced a national campaign to increase carton recycling to every community in the US.

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