By Derric Brown, director of sustainability for the Carton Council of North America and Evergreen Packaging
While the Carton Council of North America has always placed great importance on Earth Day, it holds even more significance this year. After almost a decade of education, hard work and strong collaboration, carton recycling is now available to more than 60 percent of U.S. households, and is officially considered mainstream!
This was a tremendous milestone for carton recycling nationwide, but we acknowledge that it was just that – a milestone - with plenty of story still left to be written.
With this in mind, the Carton Council continues to be committed to advancing sustainable carton recycling in the U.S., educating communities and consumers about the importance of carton recycling, and working to increase access to carton recycling and minimize the number of cartons that end up in landfills.
Since we hit 60 percent access, the Carton Council has continued to march full steam ahead, launching a national digital campaign to engage consumers in carton recycling through education and an exciting #CookingWithCartons sweepstakes contest.
Most recently, we announced that we have been collaborating with AMP Robotics and Alpine Waste & Recycling in Denver to conduct a pilot program that uses artificial intelligence to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of carton recycling. Although it is the first of its kind, this innovation has wide spread implications for the broader recycling industry as it can be adapted to other materials, including to identify and pick out contaminants.
Earth Day is a time to reflect on how far we’ve come in awareness and progress, but to also look ahead and celebrate our commitments to continuing to do better. The Carton Council is inspired to constantly look to new approaches to improve carton recycling and working with others who share our vision. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for our industry!