All the materials used in beverage cartons are recyclable. Recycling beverage cartons reduces carbon emissions and enables a better use of raw material resources. Paper mills, very interested in the quality fibre that makes beverage cartons, process used cartons, either separately or together with other waste paper. They do this by first separating their paper fibres from polymers and aluminium using a water-based technique known as repulping.
Paper fibre properties provide a valuable raw material for new paper and board products. The new lives assumed by the fibres from used cartons are widespread: cardboard boxes, cereal boxes and other packages for consumer goods, office stationery, gypsum board, textile and paper cores, etc. The residual material, which include aluminium and polymers, can be used in a number of different applications ranging from composite materials for products such as roof tiles to industrial raw materials and energy recovery.
Recycling of beverage cartons in Europe (EU-27, Norway and Switzerland) has grown steadily over the last fifteen years, with around 381,000 tonnes recycled in 2012. This represents a rate of 39% of all cartons sold in Europe being recycled, with some countries like Belgium or Germany having rates over 70%.