They might look cardboard and many think they are even some kind of waxed paper but tetrapaks and the like are basically a thin plastic container reinforced with card.
Or rather laminated cartons composed of paper/card and layers of polythene.
Cartons, are made up of paperboard (73%), plastic (22%) and aluminium foil (5%).
The board is made from wood pulp boiled at 160 degrees to remove the Lignin, a chemical compound and separate the fibres from the cellulose.
The fibres are washed and cleaned. Some are bleached white. The fibres are then used to make card with the white face on the outside. Any design work is printed onto the white bleached side.
Three layers of molten polythene are sprayed on the inside and a single layer on the outside. This will protect the future contents, such as orange juice and the design printed on the outside.
They Have A Recyclable Logo
Yes they can be recycled but it is a complex procedure and so not very cost effective. All the components have to be separated and then individually reused.
Laminated cartons cannot be included with normal paper recycling. Most local councils offer Tetrapak recycling as part of their kerbside collections. If not, they can usually be taken to your local recycling centre. To find out more visit www.tetrapakrecycling.co.uk which includes an interactive map showing which local councils offer kerbside collections or have collection facilities at recycling banks.
Recyclable Does Not Mean Recycled
Tetra Pak from Sweden are the best known. over 130 billion tetra paks are manufactured each year.
Tetra paks are used in over 150 countries, around the world.
Wikipedia claims that As of 2011, 20% of Tetra Pak cartons are recycled globally, with countries like Belgium, Germany, Spain and Norway showing local recycling rates of over 50%.
Tetra Versus PET aplastic bottle
From the Guardian
“A drastic difference also exists when evaluating the “water footprint” of plastic bottles and Tetra Pak cartons. It takes anywhere between 1 to 2 litres to manufacture a 500ml PET bottle. The water footprint for a 500ml Tetra Pak carton stands at 200 ml of water. Tetra Pak can argue that the trees from which the cartons are made come from managed farms, and furthermore, those trees absorb carbon dioxide during their lifespan. PET bottle promoters retort that the amount of fossil fuels consumed to make bottles is a sliver of the world’s supply, and the recycling process is energy efficient.”
You can find other sneaky plastics HERE
With thanks to The Technology Student
Read treehugger on Tetrapaks