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Demonstrating the Value of Carton Recycling in the Pacific Northwest

For the last 10 years, the Carton Council has been dedicated to a critical mission: increasing household access to food and beverage carton recycling in the U.S. to prevent cartons from ending up in landfills. In working toward this, we continue to utilize public-private partnerships, which play a key role in driving progress in not just carton recycling, but recycling in general. Following the successes of other collaborations, the Carton Council was excited to co-sponsor a demonstration project with other organizations and packaging manufacturers aimed at improving recycling in the Pacific Northwest.

Launched last week in Portland, Oregon, the Pacific Northwest Secondary Sorting Demonstration Project (PNW Sort) is bringing portable sorters to four materials recovery facilities (MRFs) in the region. Using a process known as “secondary sorting,” materials will be sorted for a second time, where they will separate out any valuable materials previously missed. Over the course of 60 days, the project will demonstrate how a wider range of materials can be captured from the recycling stream. As part of this effort, gable top and aseptic cartons are among several additional recyclables these secondary sorters will be recovering.

Food and beverage cartons are made from high-quality fiber and sorting them by themselves into what’s called Grade #52 achieves their best value. End markets for Grade #52 cartons go on to become new products, such as writing paper, tissue, cups or eco-friendly building materials.

While there has been an increase in positive sorting of cartons into Grade #52 in parts of the U.S. over the last ten years, the Carton Council is  hopeful that this demonstration project will show community recycling programs and facilities in the Pacific Northwest what is possible when secondary sorting capabilities are introduced. Better yet, we look forward to leveraging the results of this demonstration project to help educate communities about the value of incorporating food and beverage cartons into curbside recycling programs.

We look forward to sharing updates as the project progresses, and in the meantime, encourage you to click here to learn more about the Pacific Northwest Secondary Sorting Demonstration Project.