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Surge in drinks carton recycling revealed

Some 43% of beverage cartons were recycled in European paper mills in 2014 with the UK showing a “substiantial advance”, according to figures released by an industry association.

A survey by the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE) found 420,000 tonnes were recycled in 28 EU member states plus Norway and Switzerland. ACE said this shows a continuing upward trend over the last two decades.

A “substantial advance” was shown in the UK while countries including Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and Spain recycled over 70% of all cartons put on the market.

The total recovery rate, including energy recovery, in 2014 reached 76%.

ACE director general, Bertil Heerink said EU waste legislation needed to include extended producer responsibility schemes to improve collections and increase rates further.

He said: “We are firmly committed to contribute to the objectives of the European Commission circular economy package.

”However, the legal proposals need to look ahead to 2030 and recognise the changing market demands and foster innovation in packaging solutions, materials and recycling techniques.

“Further efforts are needed on banning packaging waste from landfilling to ensure valuable raw materials are not ending up in landfills or being unnecessarily incinerated.”

ACE has also announced 98% of the wood fibres used to make its members’ cartons were now fully certified to demonstrating legality and traceability. In 2013 the figure stood at 93%.

Heerink said: “On the whole we are very pleased with our progress towards meeting our 100% commitment.

“We welcome the recognition of sustainable sourcing and the contribution of bio-based materials in the European Commission circular economy package, which helps strengthening our commitment to responsibly sourced renewable materials and should be extended to the legislative proposals.”

ACE members include beverage carton producers Tetra Pak, SIG Combibloc and Elopak.

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