Sonoco Stainland opens UK’s only carton recycling plant

Cartons at Sonoco Alcore
Cartons at Sonoco Alcore

The country’s only dedicated beverage carton recycling unit will be opened in Stainland today by Lord de Mauley, Minister for Resource Management.

The plant is a joint initiative between the major beverage carton manufacturers and paper and packaging producer Sonoco Alcore and will be able to turn up to 40% of the 25,000 tonnes of cartons - such as Tetra Pak - produced for the food and drinks market each year into industrial-strength paperboard.

Sonoco Alcore's dedicated beverage carton recycling facility in Stainland

Sonoco Alcore's dedicated beverage carton recycling facility in Stainland

The polythene and aluminium which also form part of the cartons will be separated as part of the recycling system and stored while different approaches to recycling and recovering them are assessed.

It is hoped that the facility, which could recycle as many as 1.25 billion cartons a year, will help boost recycling rates for the containers, which previously had to be sent to Europe to be recycled.

It will offer local authorities who have policies not to export any waste for recycling an alternative to sending them to Sweden or landfill, and cut the emissions associated with transporting them to recycling facilities abroad, the project’s backers said. As a result local authority kerbside collection of cartons are expected to increase dramatically.

Sonoco Alcore will turn the cartons into the new product at its paper mill on the same site.

Baled cartons at Sonoco Alcore

Baled cartons at Sonoco Alcore

Environment Minister Lord de Mauley, who is officially opening the plant, said: “Dealing with waste and recycling properly is not only good for the environment, but can boost economic growth and create jobs.

“This new recycling plant is an exciting development and I’m delighted to see businesses working together to improve our ability to recycle more here in the UK.”

Richard Hands, chief executive of the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE) UK, said: “The ultimate aim of our members - Tetra Pak, Elopak and SIG Combibloc - is to meet the requirements of retailers, manufacturers and consumers for packaging that is easy to recycle.

“Kerbside recycling schemes provide the most convenient collection method for consumers and we expect more cartons to be collected in this way now that local authorities have a secure domestic market for this material stream.”

Clive Brown, of carton makers Elopak, said today was the most significant event in UK recycling for a long time.