The reach of carton recycling services has made significant progress in recent months. The Carton Council (a cooperative industry group working to increase recycling rates) recently reported the number of US households with access to carton recycling services increased by 1m in just the first quarter of 2014.
Part of the Carton Council’s success can be attributed to the group’s close partnerships with municipalities and their waste management agencies; Houston, Texas, is the most recent locale to work with the council. Jason Pelz, vice president of environment in North America for Tetra Pak and vice president of recycling projects for the Carton Council, told FoodProductionDaily about efforts to expand recycling access, and what the benefits are to the food and beverage industry.
How did you come to partner with Houston for this particular campaign?
As part of the Carton Council’s efforts to ensure access to carton recycling in Houston, we also believe it is essential local residents are informed that cartons have been added to the City’s recycling program. The Carton Council offered to plan and initiate a public education campaign in Houston to get the word out and encourage residents to recycle their cartons.
We have done similar campaigns in Dallas, Philadelphia, Tampa, San Diego and other cities across the country.
Tell us about the multi-platform communication effort the Carton Council and the City is working on?
We have launched a campaign to communicate with residents throughout Houston. This includes advertising in major newspapers like the Houston Chronicle along with local weeklies; running public service announcements on local television and cable networks and online; and digital advertisements.
Additionally, we are working with the City to include information about carton recycling with local utility bills. This will be distributed to approximately 460,000 homes.
The City is providing information about carton recycling at community outreach events and their local cable access channel.
Additionally, a key sponsor of the campaign is WhiteWave Foods, which produces popular brands such as Silk (plant-based natural and organic beverages), International Delight (flavored, liquid non-dairy creamers) and Horizon Organic (organic dairy). The majority of WhiteWave’s products are packaged in cartons and the company is committed to ensuring consumers learn about the availability and importance of carton recycling.
Can you share some of the numbers showing the progress being made in the US on carton recycling?
As of March 31, 2014, 48.8% of the households in the US have access to carton recycling through local recycling programs; that’s 56,970,294 households. This is an increase of more than 170% in carton recycling access since 2009, when the Carton Council first formed; at that time access in the US was 18%.
South Dakota recently added carton to its recycling program, making it the 46th state that includes at least some access to carton recycling.
Your data indicates 73 out of 100 major cities are offering carton recycling— how is the Carton Council working to get that to 100 out of 100?
We have developed a formula to improve carton recycling in the US, which includes a proactive industry partnership for voluntary producer responsibility, pushing carton-friendly financial and technical resources into the supply chain, capital and technical support for sorting facility upgrades, serving as a liaison for the movement of cartons, community and/or hauler communications and outreach support for carton recycling access, and educating residents after the infrastructure is built about carton recycling.
Our industry-facing website, www.CartonOpportunities.org, provides a platform for industry stakeholders to obtain information about carton recycling, which makes it easier for communities and facilities to begin the process of accepting cartons.