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Where to throw away a milk carton? We give you a hint

Gdzie wyrzucić karton po mleku? Podpowiadamy

Tomasz Woźniak |

Waste segregation is a topic that still raises doubts among many Poles. Although over 90% of us declare sorting waste, some types of packaging still pose a challenge. One of them are milk or juice cartons , popularly called tetrapacks. Should they be thrown into the paper bin or maybe into the plastic fraction? The answer to this question may be crucial to successful recycling.

What are milk cartons ?

Cartons for milk , juices and other liquid food products are so-called multi-material packaging. They consist of several layers of different raw materials - primarily paper, but also plastic foil and a thin aluminum coating. This complex structure is intended to ensure optimal protection of the contents against external factors, such as light or oxygen.

Why don't milk cartons go to paper?

Intuitively, it might seem that milk cartons should go into the paper and cardboard container. However, waste management experts clearly state that this is the wrong approach. Although paper constitutes approximately 60-75% of the weight of this type of packaging, the remaining layers made of plastic and aluminum make it impossible to classify them as only paper waste.

Correct segregation of milk cartons

In accordance with applicable guidelines, cartons of milk , juices, sauces and other liquid products should be thrown into a yellow container intended for plastics and metals. This is the only way to ensure their proper processing and recovery of secondary raw materials.

Why is segregating milk cartons important?

Waste segregation, including proper handling of milk cartons, is crucial for effective recycling. Multi-material packaging is difficult to process because it consists of different raw materials that cannot be easily separated. When milk cartons end up in mixed waste, the recycling process becomes significantly more complicated and some valuable raw materials may be lost.

How are milk cartons recycled?

Milk cartons are subjected to a special recycling process that allows the recovery of the raw materials from which they are made. The first stage is the separation of the layers - paper, plastic foil and aluminum. Then the paper is shredded and subjected to a fiberization process, thanks to which the cellulose fibers can be recovered. In turn, plastics and aluminum are used to produce new products, e.g. garden furniture or elements in the energy industry.

Benefits of recycling milk cartons

Correct segregation and recycling of milk cartons brings tangible benefits. Firstly, it enables the recovery of valuable raw materials such as paper, plastics and aluminum, which can be reused. Secondly, it reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills, contributing to the protection of the natural environment. Thirdly, recycling milk cartons supports the development of a circular economy in which nothing is wasted and all materials are reused.

Upcycling milk cartons

Milk cartons are not only waste for recycling, but also an interesting material for upcycling - giving old objects new functionality. You can make many practical and decorative items yourself from cardboard , such as flower pots, desk organizers, bird feeders or decorations for a child's room. All you need is a little creativity, scissors, glue and a bit of imagination to give your cardboard boxes a second life.


How to properly prepare cardboard boxes for recycling?

In order for milk cartons to be included in the correct waste fraction, you should remember several important issues. First, the packaging should be emptied of its contents and washed thoroughly. Secondly, they should be flattened or folded to take up less space in the container. Thirdly, it is worth removing any additional elements from the boxes, such as caps or labels. This will make the entire recycling process run more efficiently.

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