You can't recycle beverage cartons

Here's why

  • Cardboard Cartons are made mostly of cardboard, which can be recycled and made into new products. A one-litre Tetra Pak fresh milk carton is made up of 88% cardboard.  
  • Council majority - An overwhelming majority of councils servicing over 90% of the Australian population accept fresh beverage cartons for recycling. Most councils also accept long-life, foil-lined cartons and you can check whether this service is available in your local area by visiting (WA councils do not accept foil-lined cartons).
  • Mixed paper bales - Some paper recyclers do not want cartons in their recycling streams as they say it degrades the value of the recycled paper fibre. On average, fresh beverage and long-life, foil-lined cartons make up just 0.6% of mixed paper bales sorted at recycling sorting facilities.While cartons entering the mixed paper stream is not ideal, from an environmental perspective it is a much better outcome than those containers being sent to landfill.
  • How carton recycling works
    • Cartons are sorted into mixed paper bales before being sent to paper mills for recycling, either locally or overseas.  
    • At these mills, cartons are added to large machines called Hydrapulpers – essentially a giant blender – that use water to break the cartons down into two component parts. 
    • The paper pulp is separated and used to make a variety of paper products, such as paper towels, tissue and paper bags.   

Choose your actions!

  • Check locally if your council accepts long life foil-lined cartons for recycling by visiting 
  • Empty and flatten cartons before putting them in the home recycling bin. 
  • Flavoured milk and juice cartons under one-litre can also be recycled via container deposit schemes 

1Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (2019) Polymer Coated Paperboard Working Group 2018