Rubbish or resource?

What happens to used cartons?

If you live in an area where household rubbish is separated for recycling, your used cartons will be transported to a recycling plant. There, they will be soaked in water to separate the paperboard from the plastic and aluminium layers. The paper content can then be turned into new products like toilet paper, tissue and notebooks. The plastic and aluminium can also be recovered to make things like roof tiles or plastic pots.

Energy recovery

Recycling is not the only way to dispose of old cartons responsibly. They can also be incinerated and the energy recovered to generate heat and electricity. Some countries, such as Denmark, have decided to handle rubbish in this way. In Europe in 2007, 33% of all drink cartons were used to generate energy.

Did you know?

In 2003, no drinks cartons were being recycled in China. Now, the figure is over 10% and we are working to improve this even further.

Progress in recycling

The graph shows that in 2009, 27.1 billion Tetra Pak cartons were recycled globally. All together over the last seven years, we have seen a 73% increase in recycling.

Paper products
Diagram showing rwcykled packages by the billions Number of recycled packages (billion)

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Making it easier

Making recycling as easy as possible

Even if there has been a 73% increase in recycling of Tetra Pak cartons in the past seven years, there is still a long way to go. We hope for rapid, widespread improvements in the coming years and for that to happen:

  1. Materials must be as easy as possible to recycle
  2. Recycling facilities need to be convenient and universally available
Recycled packages

What's Tetra Pak doing about it?

Here are a few examples:

  • Designing packages with recyclability in mind. Recyclability is measured at every stage of a new product's development.
  • Cooperating with drink companies, public authorities, NGOs, industry groups and community associations to ensure our packages are recovered effectively.
  • Local managers of Tetra Pak operations are evaluated, in part, according to their efforts to increase recycling.
  • Recycling our own manufacturing waste and supporting beverage companies' initiatives to recycle theirs.
  • Working with scientific institutions and businesses to develop new recycling technologies.
  • Sending our engineers to paper mills worldwide, to help run tests and demonstrate the value of recycling cartons.

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Recycling projects

Recycling projects from around the world

We work with lots of different stakeholders, including recycling companies, NGOs, schools and local government bodies worldwide.
Here are a few examples of the work we've been doing in cooperation with our partners:


The success of recycling schemes depends on the commitment and cooperation of all stakeholders. Our challenge is to find out where Tetra Pak’s support can be most useful - in areas like technology development, the growth of recycling infrastructure and increased consumer awareness.

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What can you do?

There are lots of ways - big and small - in which you can contribute to a more sustainable future. Try these links and suggestions to get started.

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