Recycling Mystery: Ice Cream Cartons

Recycling Mystery: Ice Cream Cartons

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I scream, you scream, all of us scream on the subject of recycling ice cream cartons. Given that the common American consumes 20 pounds of ice cream annually, that’s lots of packaging. So, are ice cream cartons recyclable?

As you in all probability know, the bottom materials for ice cream cartons is paper — particularly, paperboard. This is similar materials used for cereal and different meals packing containers, with a layer of clay referred to as kaolin on the surface that permits the producer to print branding, components and different info.

But ice cream cartons are product of a particular kind of paper referred to as wet-strength paperboard, which incorporates a plastic lining of polyethylene to make sure that it gained’t break down within the freezer beneath excessive temperatures. Other examples of wet-strength paperboard embrace frozen meals packing containers and beer/soda carriers.

That polyethylene coating poses a recycling problem as a result of the method for recycling paper entails including water to show it into pulp. The polyethylene is water-proof and prevents the pulping course of.

A City-by-City Solution

Ice cream carton acceptance in curbside recycling applications is not at all standardized within the U.S., and you may’t even predict its acceptance by area. In Seattle, they are accepted for recycling, whereas in Portland, they are not, though these cities are lower than 200 miles from one another and infrequently each cited as examples of inexperienced cities. The identical will be mentioned of Austin, Texas, the place they’re accepted, however not Fort Worth, that are additionally lower than 200 miles aside.

A very good rule of thumb is to have a look at the record of supplies accepted in your native curbside program. If you don’t see both frozen meals packing containers or ice cream cartons particularly talked about by title, don’t embrace them along with your recyclables.

If your neighborhood doesn’t settle for ice cream cartons, there’s not a viable various for you. Even for those who compost at house, your bin will probably not get scorching sufficient to interrupt down the plastic lining of wet-strength paperboard.

Carton Preparation

If you’re in a neighborhood that accepts ice cream cartons for recycling, be sure you empty out all remaining ice cream earlier than you recycle, and provides the carton a fast rinse.

This is essential as a result of for those who recycle a carton that also incorporates ice cream, the ice cream will soften and contaminate your different recyclables — to not point out go away your bin sticky and engaging to wasps and different pests.

Editor’s Note: This article was initially revealed on April 20, 2018, and up to date in March 2024.