City of Houston adds food and beverage cartons residential curbside recycling program

Apr. 14, 2014Memorial Examiner

As part of the city of Houston’s continued efforts to bolster residential recycling, Mayor Annise D. Parker announced that food and beverage cartons are now recyclable as part of the city’s residential curbside recycling program.

The addition of carton packages marks another innovation in the city’s successful recycling efforts, with nearly all household containers used by residents now being recyclable.

To help get the word out to residents, the city is partnering with the Carton Council, a collaborative of carton manufacturers committed to expanding carton recycling in the United States, to launch a public education campaign to promote carton recycling.

“Houston is committed to increasing recycling as part of our efforts for a cleaner and greener city,” said Parker. “We are excited to partner with the Carton Council. Too many of our cartons are ending up in the landfill. We can do better. Let’s recycle all of our cartons! ”

Residents that receive city of Houston curbside recycling collection service should place all empty food and beverage cartons in their green curbside recycling cart or bin, or residents can drop off their cartons at one of the city’s local recycling dropoff centers. Commonly used carton containers include milk and juice cartons, along with soup, broth and soy milk cartons.

Houston is part of a national movement of major cities that offers curbside residential carton recycling. Carton recycling is becoming increasingly popular across the nation. In 2008, only 18 percent of American households had access to carton recycling programs. Today, thanks in part to the Carton Council, this number has more than doubled to just over 48 percent, with more than 1 in 3 households now having access.

To support this effort, the City and the Carton Council are working together to implement a comprehensive public education campaign to encourage residents to recycle their food and beverage cartons. The campaign will include direct mail, television public service announcements, advertising in local newspapers, on-line and social media activities, along with outreach at local community events.

A key sponsor of the campaign includes WhiteWave Foods, which produces popular brands such as Horizon Organic dairy; Silk plant based natural and organic beverages, and International Delight flavored, liquid non-dairy creamers. Because the vast majority of WhiteWave’s products are packaged in cartons, the company is committed to ensuring that consumers learn about the availability and importance of carton recycling.

“Carton recycling is a win for Houston’s residents and the environment,” said Michele Wagner, representing the Carton Council. “We are excited to be working in Houston to expand its recycling program, and support education efforts to keep cartons out of landfills and in recycling bins.”

This initiative will enable the City of Houston to boost its recycling rates. The City currently has a waste diversion rate of 28 percent, and having residents recycle their cartons will help to increase that number. Furthermore, the Solid Waste Management Department continues to expand its popular automated curbside recycling program, with 210,000 homes now receiving these services, and future expansions scheduled for later this year.

The recycled carton paper fibers are a valuable resource for making new products and consist of some of the highest quality fiber among recyclable products. Consequently, cartons have global demand and are shipped to paper mills, where the paper fiber is extracted to make new products such as paper towels, tissue, and even building materials.

Residents seeking additional information about the City of Houston’s recycling program should visitwww.HoustonSolidWaste.org or call 3-1-1.

About the Houston Solid Waste Management Department

The Solid Waste Management Department provides solid waste services to the residents of Houston through the collection, disposal and recycling of discarded material in a manner that is safe, efficient, environmentally sound and cost-effective. For more information about the City of Houston Solid Waste Management Department and its services, please log on to www.houstonsolidwaste.org, follow us on Twitter @houstontrash or like us on facebook at www.facebook.com/houstonsolidwaste.

About the Carton Council

The Carton Council is composed of four leading carton manufacturers, Elopak, SIG Combibloc, Evergreen Packaging and Tetra Pak, as well as an associate member, Weyerhaeuser. Formed in 2009, the Carton Council works to deliver long-term collaborative solutions in order to divert valuable cartons from the landfill. Through a united effort, the Carton Council is committed to building a sustainable infrastructure for carton recycling nationwide and works toward their continual goal of adding access to carton recycling throughout the U.S. For more information, visit CartonOpportunities.org.