Food and beverage carton recycling is growing in MN!


In case you didn’t already know, food and beverage cartons can be recycled in Minnesota! While a standard practice globally, carton recycling really started becoming more prominent in the U.S. over the past nine years, thanks to public-private collaboration across the entire recycling chain.

The Carton Council of North America recently launched an education campaign in Minnesota to make sure residents know to recycle their food and beverage cartons, which are used to package products like milk and juice, as well as soups, flavored waters, energy drinks, tomatoes, beans and even wine.

Top of everyone’s mind these days is the China situation, but the good news is that cartons have never been a home for sorted post-consumer cartons. The Carton Council has always advocated for sorting cartons by themselves into what is known as Grade #52. Separating cartons by themselves, ensures you get the most value as there is demand for them to be used for new products, such as tissues, writing paper, paper towels and environmentally friendly building materials.

Minnesota is home to a wide number of facilities that sort cartons into Grade #52, including Republic-Minneapolis/Inver Grove Heights, Eureka-St. Paul, SRC Recycling -Wyoming, Randy’s-St. Paul Park, Dem Con-Shakopee, Carver County-Chaska, Kandiyohi County-Wilmar, McLeod County-Hutchinson, Rice County-Dundas, and Northern MN Recycling/St. Louis County-Virginia. Thank you all for your support of carton recycling!

What happens once cartons have been sorted into Grade #52 bales? There are several end markets available for Minnesota, including:

  • Sustana (Fox River Fiber): Located in De-Pere, WI, the facility can take 500 tons per month (TPM) of Grade #52 cartons.
  • CMR/ReWall: Located in Des Moines, IA, the facility can take up to 600 TPM of Grade #52 cartons.
  • Great Lakes Tissue: Located in Cheboygan, MI, the facility can take up to 800 TPM of Grade #52 cartons.
  • Kimberly-Clark de México: Located in Ecatepec and Bajio, Mexico, KC purchases cartons from all over the U.S. and can take anywhere from 500-1,000 TPM of cartons.

Other end markets for cartons are also becoming available. Along with the existing recyclers in Malaysia, Thailand, Japan and South Korea, additional new end markets include:

  • ReWall: Building off the existing facility in Iowa, a new facility is planned to open in Colorado in April 2019. The facility should be able to take up to 500 TPM of Grade #52 cartons once fully operational.
  • Ecomelida: New facility to be built in Orangeburg County, SC. Capacity of 10,000 TPM of Grade 52. Will use both fiber and poly & poly/Al residuals for finished products.
  • Paper Corea: Recently installed pulping system at Gunsan, South Korea location. Capacity for Grade #52 is 1100 TPM. Plans to commence purchasing end Q4 of 2018.

The bottom line is that many opportunities exist for recycling cartons in the area. We’re here to help! Please send us an email at if you’re interested in learning more about the opportunities for carton recycling in Minnesota. View a recent webinar to learn more here, as well as answers to the Q&A here.

Thanks for your support of recycling!