Aside from the image above clearly being a carton of “Own Brand” orange juice, the container that it comes in is called a Tetra Pak (or Tetra Brik). Nearly everyone will be familiar with these types of cartons as they’re used all over the world to contain and prolong the life of the liquid inside. From fruit juice to milk and yogurt, the Tetra Pak “brick” comes in all shapes and sizes, but can it be recycled? As we’re of London’s leading recycling and waste management companies, we thought we’d look into it and find the answer.
Can I recycle my Tetra Pak carton?
Even though the Tetra Brik has been around since the 1960s, until fairly recently the answer was usually no and your Tetra Pak “Brik” would be thrown in the bin along with your non-recyclable supermarket waste and other household items that were destined for landfill. Nowadays, things have changed and most local councils are happy to accept them with other recyclable materials.
So yes, your Tetra Pak can now be recycled!
Why couldn’t the Tetra Brik be recycled before?
Since the Tetra Pak design mainly consists of a layer of paper/cardboard (paperboard) on the outside glued to a layer of aluminium foil on the inside with a plastic cap on top, a way hadn’t been found to separate the material efficiently and so an unimaginable number Tetra cartons were seen as disposable and simply binned.
How are they recycled?
The answer is surprisingly simple; they’re basically put in a huge “washing machine” for around 20 minutes and pulped until the materials separate. Once this happens, each material can be recycled. The short video (less than one minute) below sums it up perfectly.
What recycling method do I use?
Fortunately, there’s a really useful website that will tell you how to recycle your Tetra Pak carton wherever you live in the country. Each local authority up and down the UK is listed, including a breakdown of the different areas in cities like London.
Also, don’t forget to wash and squash your Tetra Brik first so that it’s cleaner and takes up less space; leave the plastic cap on too, as this can also be recycled.
So, if you previously thought that your Tetra Pak brick couldn’t be recycled, now you can sleep easy at night safe in the knowledge that your old carton could be part of the plastic garden furniture, supermarket containers or building materials you buy in the future.