In 2007 a bring bank collection system was launched for beverage cartons as the first stage of a strategy to increase recycling in the UK.
When the initiative began just 10% of UK local authorities collected beverage cartons for recycling. By mid-2007 a further 65% were using the bring-bank system, with the remaining 25% sending cartons to landfill or energy from waste.
Since then, the beverage carton trade association The Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE UK), has continued to work closely with local authorities and waste management companies to boost beverage carton recycling still further. A decade on and the figures look very different, with 92% of local authorities now collecting beverage cartons for recycling – 66% from the kerbside and 26% via bring banks – and just 8% sending cartons to landfill or energy from waste.
“The last ten years has seen a huge increase in beverage carton recycling”, said Mandy Kelly, Senior Recycling Manager, ACE UK. “There have been some amazing highlights along the way, with perhaps the most important being the opening of our own reprocessing plant in 2013.
“Supported by our members Tetra Pak, Elopak and SIG Combibloc, we entered into an agreement with Sonoco Alcore to create the UK’s only dedicated beverage carton recycling facility. Situated in Stainland, West Yorkshire, the facility is capable of recycling 25,000 tonnes of cartons per year, and currently receives cartons from 35% of UK local authorities.”
The last decade has also seen ACE UK develop its own dedicated recycling team, offering practical advice and support to waste companies and local authorities wanting to move to kerbside collection and a range of promotional materials to help councils engage with residents.
“Our next target is for 75% of local authorities to collect beverage cartons at kerbside – but bring banks still have a role to play”, explains Mandy. “The priority is to have as many recycling opportunities as possible – but these opportunities must be delivered efficiently, generate the right quality of material and encourage the greatest amount of recycling.
“We’ve come a long way but there is still more to do – here’s to the next ten years!”