Canadian firm first in the world to recycle juice boxes

Now there's a process for recycling juice boxes and milk cartons

Until now, juice boxes and waxed milk cartons had to be trashed. Now there’s a new recycling process for them.

Groupe RCM,Inc., a recycler in Quebec, Canada, has begun accepting juice boxes and milk containers for recycling. Their new process breaks down the cartons, plastic bag and film waste into a thermoplastic resin that will then be used in industrial and commercial manufacturing.

The process utilizes high-speed knives to homogenize different types of waste materials into plastic granules that can be used to make a variety of plastic products including: flower pots, railway ties, guard rail posts, pallets and plastic lumber.

This process is the first of its kind in the world. Waste-free, it converts everything – straws,caps and other attached plastic components – into plastic granules.

This innovative recycling process is a direct result of a 3-year development and represents a $3.5 million investment partnership between Tetra Pak, its corporate partners A. Lassonde Inc., a manufacturer of fruit and juice drinks, and Natrel, a Canadian dairy cooperative, and the Québec government corporation Recyc-Québec, all of which collectively provided Groupe RCM with crucial seed capital. This project is part of a larger nationally focused recycling plan.

Groupe RCM is a non-profit organization founded in 1981 that hires handicapped individuals, who represent 80% of its workforce. The organization operates in the environmental sector and provides materials sorting similar to a materials recycling facility.

Groupe RCM employes the handicapped to assist in their recycling efforts

The launch of this recycling process is a big step forward for sustainable packaging. If adopted by other recyclers in North America, it offers a huge opportunity to cut down on a segment of products that typically end up in landfills.

Companies like TerraCycle have been working in this direction as well, albeit from a different perspective. TerraCycle’s known for their Brigades whereby individuals, schools and/or organizations collect specific items otherwise un-recyclable – such as juice drink packaging – and send them in to be repurposed into new useful products.

This new recycling process is yet another exciting step in the quest to eliminate waste and be good stewards of the planet.

4 Responses

  1. It is not true that Canada is the first in the world to recycle juice and milk cartons. Australia started recycling these items about 30 years ago with curbside recycling including cardboard, paper, glass etc.

    • Thanks for the information. As much as I try to always get things correct, sometimes I just don’t have access to all the information I need. Really appreciate this.

  2. Hello.
    I have read through this article and I’m not sure if this recycling process refers to the type of Tetra Pak cartons primarily used for packaging long-shelf-life milk and juice products, or just regular refrigerated food cartons – (Gable top shape)
    There is no mention of the aluminium (5%) content of a Tetra Pak carton being recovered.
    Would someone care to clarify this for me?
    I am trying to find out where in the world such recycling actually takes place. – It appears that there is not as much happening as Tetra Pak would like us to believe.

    • John:

      My understanding, or at least from my memory, is that it’s talking about the Tetra Pak boxes. I could be wrong. If you do some research and find out anything else about this please let me know as I’d like to let others know about this as well.

      And my apologies for not replying sooner. You were right – your original question slipped by me. Thanks for persevering to make sure I saw it!


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