Find out if carton recycling is available in your community:


Carton Recycling

Carton Recycling

The carton recycling movement is sweeping the nation and it’s never been a better time to join in by bringing carton recycling to your community. More than 58% of U.S. households now have access to carton recycling…with more being added every day. A growing number of cartons are appearing on grocery shelves and consumers are demanding that they be accepted in their recycling programs. But there are even more reasons why you should care about cartons… 


Carton Recycling and YouCarton Packaging | Carton Recycling

Industry Involvement and Information

Carton Recycling and you

Cartons are made mainly from paper, a renewable resource from well managed forests. Additionally they are lightweight and compact, have a low package-to-product ratio and a low carbon footprint throughout their lifecycle. By adding cartons, you are making your recycling program even more convenient for your customers by eliminating confusion and increasing the volume you collect. And if you are serious about diverting more from your waste stream, adding cartons is a crucial step for doing so. 

To find out more about how carton recycling can benefit you, see below. 

Cartons Recycling and You: Recycling & Waste Management Professionals

Cartons Recycling and You: Solid Waste/Environmental Industry Organizations & State Recycling Association Representatives Professionals

Cartons Recycling and You: Elected Officials & Policy Makers Professionals

Cartons Recycling and You: Government/Legislative Affairs Councils & Organizations Professionals

Cartons Recycling and You: Sustainability & Brand Trade Association Representatives Professionals

Cartons Recycling and You: Corporate Packaging, Sustainability & Supply Chain Professionals


Carton Packaging


It’s hard to visit a grocery store these days without seeing a new product available in a carton. From wine to soup to dairy, it’s quickly becoming the packaging of choice. Cartons come in two types and they are easy to recognize: shelf-stable (also known as aseptic, featuring contents such as broth, soy milk and wine) and refrigerated (also known as gable-top, featuring milk, cream and juice). Both types are mainly made from paper in the form of paperboard. They also include thin layers of polyethylene (plastic). The shelf-stable cartons also have a thin layer of aluminum. Shelf-stable cartons contain on average 74% paper, 22% polyethylene and 4% aluminum. Refrigerated cartons contain approximately 80% paper and 20% polyethylene. 

Carton Recycling

Cartons are a fast-growing packaging segment that must have a recycling solution. While cartons may seem like a small part of the recycling stream, they are a fast growing packaging choice for many products such as soy milk, broth and even wine. 

There are markets for cartons! The Carton Council is committed to a whole carton recycling solution and the good news is that many mills in North America accept cartons now, with more coming on board. Cartons are made from a high-quality paperboard and mills equipped to recover that fiber are able to recycle the carton material into marketable consumer products, like tissue, writing papers, even building materials. These end markets mean cartons will continue to be accepted in recycling programs and recovered for recycled products. In addition to the paperboard, cartons have thin layers of polyethylene (plastic) Shelf stable cartons also have a thin layer of aluminum to enable the product to be stored safely without refrigeration. These materials can also be recovered and recycled.

To date, over 12,000 community recycling programs have added cartons.  

Industry Involvement and Information


The Carton Council of North America is working hard to increase the number of households with access to carton recycling. The Carton Council is composed of four leading carton manufacturers, Elopak, Evergreen Packaging, SIG Combibloc and Tetra Pak as well as an associate member, Weyerhaeuser. These companies have joined forces to help material recovery facilities (MRFs) secure stable long term end markets for cartons. These efforts enable us to ensure cartons are recovered through local recycling programs.

We encourage anyone with an interest in recycling and sustainable packaging to follow us and join us. If you are a representative of an industry partner or a company impacted by the carton supply chain, please contact us at