Beverage cartons are sustainable packaging solution

ACE, The Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment, and its members SIG Combibloc, BillerudKorsnäs, Elopak, Stora Enso and Tetra Pak, have set the industry’s vision for the future. They claim to deliver the most sustainable packaging for resilient food supply systems which is renewable, climate positive and circular.

Through its robust and ambitious Roadmap, the industry commits to take action on all parts of the industry value chain, from sustainable sourcing to climate impact and recycling. Increasing the collection and recycling of beverage cartons to reach a 90% collection rate and at least a 70% recycling rate by 2030, and the decarbonisation of the industry’s value chain in line with the 1.5o C aligned science-based targets are included in the ten commitments.

In line with the vision of ACE members, beverage cartons will be:

  • made only from renewable and /or recycled material
  • fully recyclable and recycled
  • made entirely from sustainably sourced raw materials
  • the packaging solution with the lowest carbon footprint

Beverage cartons are a recyclable low carbon packaging solution that protects food and beverages, allowing their safe use and transport while also preventing food waste. With the commitments and targets set in the 2030 Roadmap, the industry will strive for its packaging to continue to actively contribute towards the ambitions of the EU Green Deal, specifically climate neutrality, circularity, biodiversity and resilient food systems, while never compromising the health and safety of consumers.

Municipal material cycles of used beverage cartons and hygiene paper

In Slovenia, we recycle app 5,5% of used beverage carton in a single circular economy project, named Municipal material cycle. These are closed material loops of used beverage cartons, collected by households and institutions in certain municipalities and hygiene paper products that are made of them for the same local community from collected UBCs.

The project is active in 15 municipalities in Slovenia, where waste management is handled by Voka Snaga Ljubljana, Komunala Novo mesto, Komunala Brežice and Komunala Kranj.


Important facts about beverage cartons

The material

Beverage cartons are made of (on average, by weight):

  • 75% paperboard, a renewable material when the forests are managed responsibly
  • 20% polymers, mostly polyethylene, to prevent leakage
  • 5% aluminium, to protect drinks from light and oxygen

Beverage cartons recycling

Paper fibres from beverage cartons are highly desirable as a source of recovered fibre. After collection and sorting, the material is sent to paper recycling mills with dedicated equipment, where the beverage cartons are recycled in a process where water and agitation separate the paper fibres from the plastic and aluminium. The process of cleaning the materials is chemical-free; cellulose fibres are being sterilized by steam on 120 oC.

UBC can be recycled into new, high quality hygiene paper products, such as tissues, handkerchiefs and toilet paper. This way we protect wood and forests, valuable natural source.

Polymers and aluminium (PolyAl) are handled as a separate material stream, used within the construction and other industries.