A step closer to zero waste with multi-layer carton recycling
Juice and milk cartons, made from several layers of cardboard, are fully recyclable. Despite popular belief, they are not waxed, but coated with polyethylene (plastic), a material that can be fully recycled at your sorting center. So put them in your blue bin!
Composition and recovery
Multi-layer containers come in two types: aseptic and gable top. Aseptic containers, or “shelf-stable containers”, are made up of approximately 74% bleached cardboard, 22% polyethylene and 4% aluminum, while gable-top containers, also known as “refrigerated containers”, are made up of approximately 80% bleached cardboard and 20% polyethylene.
These containers are recovered through the selective collection program operated by municipalities.
According to the Canadian Council of Multilayer Container Manufacturers (CCMCM), as of January 2022, the national mixed recovery and recycling rate was 55%*, up from 26% in 2008.
With a recovery rate of 70%, Quebec is one of the best-performing provinces.
Deposit and selective collection
While the extensive container deposit system in Quebec will transfer a large proportion of these containers to the deposit system by November 2025, it is important to maximize the sorting of all multi-layered containers between now and then, while not forgetting those items that will remain in the selective collection system (soup, bouillons, and other containers) after this date.
Last December, Ricova’s sorting centers welcomed a team from the CCMCM. Their project? To understand the circumstances that complicate the sorting and recycling of multilayer cardboard by characterizing the materials that are found at the end of the line.
By assessing the quality, condition and quantity of materials that are not sorted by the sorting center’s machinery and employees, it will be possible to develop new processes that will enable more multilayer cardboard to be captured on the sorting conveyor.
Recycling of multilayer cardboard
Thanks to the expertise and extensive network of recycler-partners developed by Ricova over the past 20 years, Ricova’s Director of Commercial Operations, Nicolas F. Labonté, believes that it will be possible to further enhance the value of recovered multilayer paperboard. “We are highly motivated to improve the recycling possibilities for multilayer paperboard, and the support of the Canadian Council of Manufacturers of Multilayer Containers will certainly enable us to achieve this goal,” he says.
Ricova is already gearing up to meet future challenges in the management of recyclable materials, and this project is proof of that. “We are already analyzing the type of equipment that will enable us to optimize recovery and sorting, in order to further reduce the amount of material that cannot be recycled,” concludes Mr. Labonté.
One step closer to zero waste!
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