This Earth Day, Recycling is More Important Than Ever

Perspectives

Thank you to those working hard to keep it going

As we celebrate 50 years of Earth Day, we all are encountering many challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. While some recycling programs have unfortunately had to scale back or stop services, we know that everyone is working hard to keep services going.  

The truth is that even during a pandemic, recycling is still an important component to our circular economy. Recyclers, in particular paper mills, are in a challenging situation to find feedstock to help them keep up with the increase in demand for paper products like toilet paper and paper towels.

Food and beverage cartons are an example of a recycled material that can provide the needed feedstock for paper mills to create these new products. Mills not already using cartons might consider beginning to add them to help meet demand. The fiber in recycled cartons can be used to create new paper products like paper towels, tissues and toilet paper, all in a critical shortage across the U.S.

“Recycled food and beverage cartons continue to be a very important source of paper fiber for our mills,” said Michele Bartolini, Senior Marketing Director for Sustana. “People are consuming a larger quantity of paper products in their homes right now, like toilet paper, tissues, and paper towels, as well as food and beverage products. 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!”

Great Lakes Tissue, a paper mill in Cheboygan, MI, echoes how important recycling is during this time:

“Recycling programs are extremely important for our facility. We use 100% recycled raw material to the tune of over 2,100 tons per month, with over half of that being directly from post-consumer recycling operations across the U.S. and Canada,” said Tori Beckett, Vice President at Great Lakes Tissue. “With all the toilet paper shortages across the country, our operations are still at maximum capacity production and need all of the 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.”

This Earth Day the Carton Council wants to thank everyone for their support of recycling, especially those on the front lines: recycling coordinators, the haulers, and MRF and mill workers. Your efforts are valued and are helping to provide Americans with an additional way they can help the planet while staying at home. Thank you!