Happy America Recycles Day!


By Jason Pelz

Every November 15, we celebrate America Recycles Day. Since 1997, this nationally recognized day has been dedicated to encouraging all of us to recycle. And as we know, there are many reasons to recycle.

While the most universal reason is to help the environment, it’s not the only reason we encourage Americans to recycle. As many readers know, recycling is essential to various industries. In many cases, remanufacturing existing materials into new materials is more efficient and beneficial than sourcing virgin material from finite resources.

Cartons are one prime example. The paperboard used to make cartons represents some of the highest quality fiber available in the residential recycling stream. Once consumed, cartons can be turned into printing and writing paper, tissues, paper towels and even green building materials. And, the aluminum and plastic left over can be used in different ways such as energy generation or manufacturing of lumber board-like materials.

Recycling cartons goes beyond being green and beneficial for the environment. Paper mills want recovered cartons as material for manufacturing purposes, and recycling helps meet their needs.

This America Recycles Day provides a good excuse to promote recycling to all of our audiences, reminding them that recycling is beneficial to our communities and our country. And tremendous progress has been made over the last few years to make carton recycling more accessible in the United States. Currently, nearly 56 percent of U.S. households can recycle their gable top and aseptic cartons through their local programs. Cartons belong alongside other commonly recyclable materials.

Recycle on, my friends.

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.