Los Angeles expands recycling program with help from the Carton Council.
Finally, if you live in L.A., you can add milk cartons and juice boxes in with your other household recyclables. Hallelujah! As someone who lived in L.A. for almost 15 years, I can tell you first hand that this is a big deal.
Until recently, Los Angeles residents were prohibited from including paperboard items like milk, soup, broth, and wine cartons in with curbside recyclables. Instead, these items had to be thrown away. But through a partnership with the Carton Council, L.A. has been able to take steps to include these recyclables in its curbside recycling program.
The key to instituting the new policy, according to Carton Council Vice President of Recycling Jeff Fielkow, is finding after-markets for the recycled material. “For (recycled) cartons, there is a strong North American and global demand,” said Fielkow. “We’re seeing that there are good trading end markets.” And that market is largely in the tissue industry.
Tissue mills located in the U.S., Mexico and Canada can separate used cartons into fiber and non-fiber material through a series of filters. Then the recovered fiber can be used to make facial and bathroom tissue.
Recycling paper cartons that hold consumable liquids has been a problem for a long time, although the cartons are generally about 80% paperboard. The other components of the cartons–– about 20 to 22% polyethylene, make processing more difficult. And in some cases, the cartons may contain up to 4% aluminum. According to the Carton Council, while some areas would accept the cartons for composting only, many municipalities have refused to accept the waxy-feeling or aluminum-lined containers at all.
The Carton Council works directly with recycling companies, cities and paper mills to promote recycling programs for liquid food and beverage containers. In Los Angeles, for instance, the group worked directly with the city and recycling companies to implement the program.
The new curbside program will help bring L.A. closer to its goal of diverting 70% of its annual 10.1 million tons of solid waste from landfills by 2013.
Now that really is something to cheer about.