Sonoco Alcore Opens Carton Recycling Plant in UK

U.K.’s Minister for Resource Management helps open facility in West Yorkshire, U.K.

September 12, 2013
RTGE Staff
Legislation & Regulations Paper

Sonoco Alcore has opened what it says is the only facility in the United Kingdom dedicated solely to paperboard beverage carton recycling. Lord de Mauley, the U.K.’s Minister for Resource Management, helped officially open the plant at a ceremony on September 3, 2013.

The facility, located in Stainland, West Yorkshire, will be operated as a joint initiative between Sonoco Alcore and the Alliance for Beverage Cartons & the Environment (ACE) UK, which represents carton producers Tetra Pak, Elopak and SIG Combibloc.

When fully operational the plant will be capable of recycling 25,000 metric tons of food and drink cartons, or roughly 40 percent of all the food and drink containers produced in the U.K. in a single year.

Sonoco Alcore will recycle the cartons into industrial-strength coreboard at its paper mill, located at the same site. The recovered fiber will be used to manufacture 100 percent recycled-content tubes and cores.

The company says four key benefits to opening the facility are:
• The facility establishes a clearly-defined domestic end destination for used beverage cartons.
• A stable price per metric ton for cartons delivered will result, compared to the price fluctuations on the global commodities market.
• A reduction in road and rail miles travelled by used beverage cartons to be recycled will result. Previously, cartons collected through ACE UK were recycled at mills in Sweden.
• An opportunity for local authorities with no-export policies will now in place to recycle cartons in the U.K. rather than sending them to landfills.

“Dealing with waste and recycling properly is not only good for the environment but can boost economic growth and create jobs,” says Lord de Mauley. “This new recycling plant is an exciting development, and I'm delighted to see businesses working together to improve our ability to recycle more here in the U.K.”

Cartons collected in more than 180 local authority areas will be headed to the new facility for recycling. By the end of 2013, ACE UK expects another 10 local authorities to start collecting cartons in their curbside service and send them to the carton recycling facility.

“Sonoco Alcore will use the high-quality fibres from collected cartons to produce paperboard,” says Adam Wood, vice president - industrial converting Europe for Sonoco Alcore. “The new carton recycling facility is capable of producing enough material each year for 15,500 metric tons of new coreboard, enough to make 17.8 million average-sized cores and provide a consistently secure supply of material for our company.”

Sonoco Alcore also says the fine polymer and aluminium layers used in beverage cartons are separated as part of the recycling process. The company is assessing end markets for this material and says it expects to have a solution in place by 2014. Until then, the polythene and aluminium will be stored at locations in the U.K.