Cartons are recyclable and accepted in your blue bin in Manitoba. They’re made mainly from paper, with a thin layer of polyethylene (plastic) and sometimes aluminum. Milk and milk alternatives, juice, and soup/broth cartons are just some of the products packaged in cartons. You can also find cartons of dry goods like hash browns. They’re all accepted in your blue bin when empty. Recycled cartons are made into new products you use every day such as paper towels, tissues, napkins and writing paper.

 

 

What happens to cartons you recycle?

On collection day, recycling trucks throughout the province pick up recyclables and drop them off at a sorting facility. The facilities separate cartons from the mass of other recyclables (and contamination). In Winnipeg, they’re sorted automatically using infrared lights to identify them.

Bales of colourful cartons on the ground next to a baler at Winnipeg's sorting facility.

Freshly baled carton at a sorting facility.

 

How are cartons recycled?

There are two uses for the materials that make up cartons: consumer products and building materials.

Use 1: Consumer products

Once the cartons are baled, a truck takes them to a paper mill. Cartons go into a hydra pulper – essentially a giant blender – that uses water to help break cartons down into tiny pieces known as pulp. Machines at the mill separate the paper and any plastic and aluminum. Depending on the mill, they use pulp to make paper towel, tissue paper, office paper, or other paper products. The mill can use the residual plastic and aluminum as fuel to power the mill, or they can send it to a manufacturer who can use it to make ceiling tiles or wallboard.

the inside of hyrda pulper emulsifying cartons into a gray slurry consisting of paper, plastic, and aluminum.

A look inside a hyrda pulper as it emulsifies cartons.

Use 2: Building materials

Instead of a paper mill, cartons can go to a manufacturer that turns cartons into building materials. They shred the cartons, then heat and press the pieces together into large sheets – think of a giant panini press, but for shredded cartons.

About 30 cartons can make a 2×2 foot ceiling tile, while roughly 400 cartons can make a sheet of wallboard.

Please put your cartons in the Blue Bin!

To learn more about carton recycling, visit the Carton Council of Canada.

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