EUROPE – The Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE) has released guidelines on how the industry can improve beverage carton recyclability.

ACE is a collaboration of companies that claim a commitment to sourcing renewable materials from sustainably managed forests and recycling at end-of-life.

As part of the guidelines, ACE says the packaging industry is committed to developing and annually reviewing the Design for Recycling (DfR) Guidelines.

These, the Alliance claims, will provide producers of beverage cartons with technical guidance to identify the materials needed in the packaging components that are compatible with existing recycling processes and how the recyclability of beverage cartons can be optimized.

The recommendations are based on experts and consultations with targeted stakeholders, including recyclers, waste management operators and technology providers.

“Beverage cartons are recycled throughout the EU. By providing guidelines on the material composition of beverage cartons and how they should be designed for recycling, the industry continues to show its commitment to increasing the recyclability of beverage cartons,” said  Annick Carpentier, Director General of ACE.

“The Design for Recycling Guidelines is a sound basis to define the recyclability of packaging.”

ACE says that the guidelines are complementary to the published 4evergreen DfR Guidelines for standard recycling processes and will feed into the upcoming 4evergreen Guidelines for enhanced processes (specialized recycling plants).

The release of new guidelines comes at a time when beverage cartons already have a recycling rate of 51% of all cartons sold in Europe, with countries such as Belgium and Germany achieving over 70%, says ACE

Recycling of beverage cartons begins with the recovery of the paper fibers, which constitute approximately 75% of the total weight of the carton.

The alliance’s goal for 2023 is to deliver the most sustainable packaging for resilient food supply systems, which is “renewable, climate positive and circular.”

The Alliance also recommends separating and sorting different materials in the cartons, which is possible with today’s mechanical recycling systems.

ACE members including Tetra Pak, SIG Combibloc, and Elopak believe that their packaging has a reduced environmental footprint and contributes to a low-carbon circular economy.

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