2014 – A look back


By Jason Pelz

It’s been eight months since I last wrote on this very web page about the progress we have made as an industry, in keeping our valuable carton packages out of landfills. At that time, last June, we had just crossed the 50 percent household access threshold. Since then, we’ve sailed past 51 and 52 percent, rounding out the year at more than 53 percent access across the U.S.

Access is critical to us as it lays the foundation for our ultimate march towards widespread carton recycling in the United States. We know that without access and infrastructure we cannot even begin to meet our recycling goals. 

So, let’s take a deeper look at our progress:

  • In 2014, three new states gained carton recycling access, bringing the total count of states to 48. We also added 6.1 million additional households nationwide.
  • Over the past six years, carton recycling access has grown 194 percent, and now more than 62.4 million U.S. households can recycle cartons through their community recycling programs. 

Also, I’m delighted to share that our momentum from 2014 has carried over into 2015! In January alone, more than 500,000 households were added to the access count.

When I look at these numbers, and reflect on how far we have come, what is most important is that they demonstrate to me that carton recycling is truly becoming mainstream. We see that carton packaging is increasing in popularity across different food and beverage categories. We know that brand and consumer adoption of cartons is strong, that consumers expect to be able to recycle what they buy and that they are buying more items in cartons. We also see that more communities and facilities are seeing the value that cartons can bring to their programs, including added convenience for residents and access to high-quality fiber with ready end markets.

Thank you again for your support in our united efforts. Without a network of supporters and stakeholders, none of our progress would be possible. Here’s to another great year.

Jason Pelz is vice president of recycling projects for Carton Council of North America and vice president, environment, for Tetra Pak North America. He can be reached at Jason.Pelz@tetrapak.com.