Carton Recycling Markets

In 2009, when the Carton Council formed and began building an infrastructure in the U.S. for food and beverage carton recycling, we recognized that ensuring proper end markets were in place was imperative to success.

Currently, there are two options for cartons after they've been sole separated at a materials recovery facility (MRF), which can be seen in the video below. 

  • Paper Mills: Fiber from the cartons is extracted and separated in a machine called a hydrapulper, which resembles a giant kitchen blender. The pulp that comes out is used to make paper products, such as paper towels, tissues, toilet paper and office and other writing paper. Phil Nysse, Production Superintendent at Sustana Fox River Fiber Facility shares more information about the paper mill process below.


  • Manufacturing Facility: Cartons can be sent to a manufacturing facility that uses the entire carton, caps and all, to make environmentally friendly building products for the construction industry, such as roof cover board, floor underlayment and wall board. The recycling process can be seen here.

Check out a detailed look at what happens to cartons at the MRF, including the carton recycling robot in action from our friends at Dem-Con Companies here

Carton recycling helps preserve natural resources, meet important diversion and recycling rates, and sustain jobs. If you are interested in learning more about how cartons can benefit you, email us at