In the UK, 2.5 billion cartons are used every year but just 7% recycled. Major carton manufacturer Tetra Pak is aiming to raise this to 10% by 2008, but says rates could reach 20%.
Last November, European trade body the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment launched a £1.5 million UK recycling fund, agreed between member companies Tetra Pak, Elopak and SIG Combibloc, to support new collection schemes.
With just 92 bring banks and nine local authorities offering kerbside carton collections, the funding is being used to expand the collection infrastructure. Additional funds may be available next year for publicity campaigns to increase participation.
The promise of funding has caught the interest of local authorities and retailers, who have long been put off by paper manufacturers’ arguments that cartons are difficult to recycle. Tetra Pak says it is in talks with more than 150 authorities and all other major supermarkets.
Four UK paper mills are receiving cartons at no cost as part of trials, with excess material being sent to mills in Sweden and Norway.