Food and beverage cartons are recyclable. Due to COVID-19, demand for paper fiber is high in order to fulfill consumers' need for paper towels, toilet paper and tissues. Food and beverage cartons contain some of the highest quality fiber in the recycling stream and can be recycled into these paper products. Their highest value comes when they are sorted into their own grade, Grade #52. End markets who accept cartons across the U.S. share why cartons are so vital to their opertations:

  • “We use more than 2,100 tons of recycled raw material per month. With all of the toilet paper shortages across the country, our operations are still at maximum capacity production and need all of the food and beverage cartons we can get our hands on. We only keep a couple week’s supply on hand and if the collections stop we do fear we will not be able to keep a sustainable operation running.” - Tori Beckett, Vice President at Great Lakes Tissue Company
  • "Recycled food and beverage cartons continue to be a very important source of paper fiber for our mills. It is important for consumers to recycle their food and beverage cartons because the fibers in cartons are clean and of excellent quality to be used to produce the pulp needed to manufacture those essential items. Cartons miss the opportunity at a second life if they are sent to landfill. Recycling your cartons is a small act that can have a big impact!” - Michele Bartolini, Senior Marketing Director, Sustana Fiber.
  • "Recycled cartons continue to be an important part of our feedstock supply at Continuus. Our roofing products actually perform better than other products because of their recycled content and remain in service for more than 20 years. At their end of life, they can be recycled again into another roofing product, remaining out of the landfill. It’s a win today and for years to come.” - Rick Cochrane, SVP of Business Development, Continuus Materials LLC

Still don’t accept cartons in your local program? According to a survey of American adults, the majority (79%) always or occasionally recycle their cartons. Unsure how to begin adding carton recycling to your curbside program? Or are you a facility that would like to start accepting cartons to help fill the gap in feedstock? The Carton Council can help you get started and begin diverting cartons from landfills, while also creating a new source of revenue from the sale of this valuable commodity. For more information, reach out to

If your community and/or facility already accepts cartons, we have materials to help you promote carton recycling to your residents, including our community toolkit.

Learn more about how cartons are helping Minnesota reach their 75% recycling goal by 2030 in the video below. 

Getting Started

The first step to adding carton recycling in your local community is reviewing the resources we have. Click here to find a step-by-step guide of how to add cartons to your community recycling program, and here for adding cartons to your facility.

You can also reach out to our team at with any questions you may have. We have team members with experience in working directly with Public Works departments and/or public and private run facilities. They can advise you on how you can best add cartons to your local program or facility. If you are a facility, we can help identify how you can best maximize from sorting cartons.

By adding cartons to your curbside program, you can help divert more materials from the waste stream and create another source of revenue on the sale of recyclables. Plus, the addition of a new material to your program provides the opportunity to reinvigorate your community’s recycling efforts.

In addition, if you have any upcoming commercial or industrial roofing projects, we can connect you to manufacturers like Continuus who use recycled cartons to produce eco-friendly and durable building materials.

Make Sure Your Residents Know

Once food and beverage cartons are accepted in your facility and community, it is vital that residents are informed.  Research reveals that recycling is seen as a local issue and using a variety of local communications is most effective. The first step is to make sure cartons are included in the list of accepted materials on the city and MRF website and any other place that talks about what can and cannot be recycled.

The best way to communicate that
cartons can and should be recycled is:

  • List cartons as a separate category, just like you would paper, plastics, glass etc.
  • Provide examples of products cartons are used for, including milk, juice, soup, broth, wine, etc.
  • Include images of various types of cartons

We have resources to help educate residents and promote carton recycling, including our best practices doc for communcating cartons to residents and our community toolkit, full of materials and creative to share on your website, social media channels and more.

Download our Community Toolkit

We’ve created a toolkit for communities to spread the word about carton recycling. The resources below contain fun and engaging content that you can share on your website, social media channels, email and more.

Toolkit Contents:

  • Website Copy: Website copy and creative recommendations on correct and incorrect ways to describe cartons in your community. 
  • Social Media: Sample Facebook, Twitter and Instagram language and images that you can use on your existing accounts.  
  • Email: Content you can send to your network through email to promote recycling cartons. 
  • Press Release: Use this press release to tell your community that carton recycling is available in their area. 
  • Frequently Asked Questions: This FAQ sheet provides common questions people often have about what cartons are, why they should be recycled, and how they are recycled.
  • Bill Stuffer: Research shows that including this bill stuffer in your community’s electricity bill or other direct mail is one of the most effective ways to communicate carton recycling. Download this bill stuffer and include it in next month’s utility bill.
  • Myths vs. Facts one-pager: Five common myths about carton recycling are debunked.
  • How to Recycle Your Cartons: This educational video shows you how to recycle your cartons and the different types of paper products that cartons are transformed into.  You can share this video on your existing accounts or send it to people in your area.  
  • Impact of Carton Recycling: The impact of carton recycling is an educational video that explains how carton recycling has a positive impact on the Earth.  
  • Carton Council's position on contamination and FAQ’s: Statement on the Carton Council's position and recommendation on how to use recycle cartons, straws and caps. 
  • Recycling Guides: Different communities have different needs for recycling guidelines. Please download the guide that applies to your community:
  • In addition, we invite you to join our Carton Recycling Champions group on Facebook, where you can meet other avid recyclers and stay up-to-date on the latest recycling information.Thank you for spreading the word that food and beverage cartons are recyclable in your community!