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Jun 22, 2012

Converting food cartons into useful materials

Engineering|Africa|Aluminium|Environment|Packaging|Sustainable|Technology|Waste|Water|Africa|Brazil|Beverage Cartons|Cold-water Solution|Energy|Food Processing|Juice-processing Machines|Packaging|Product|Products|Rodney Reynders|Waste
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A new partnership between food process- ing and packaging company Tetra Pak and recycling operation Gayatri Paper Mills recycles used cartons into other useful materials.

“When the contents are gone, the carton lives on,” says Tetra Pak environment cluster leader for sub-Saharan Africa Rodney Reynders, adding that 6 000 t of used beverage cartons will be recycled every year.

Tetra Pak cartons are more environment friendly since the introduction of the recycling facility, as the carton’s life span is extended owing to continuous recycling.

The multilayer engineering of the cartons keeps the product fresh for up to a year without refrigeration.

The aseptic cartons consist of 75% renewable paperboard and 25% aluminium and polyethylene (PolyAlu), and both parts are recyclable.

“Milk- and juice-processing machines use the latest technology to save energy and water during production, while technical processing support for consumers focuses on reducing product waste during the packaging process,” adds Reynders.

Several jobs have been created as a direct result of the partnership and, consequently, employment will emerge for balers and collectors to sort the cartons into different materials and sell the waste to Gayatri Paper Mills for recycling.

The plant uses a hydropulper that separates the paperboard from the PolyAlu through a cold-water friction process. The hydropulper blade agitates the cold- water solution and the paperboard is separated from the PolyAlu. The pulp is then pumped to the paper mill and turned into cardboard.

“The PolyAlu is sent for aggromulation into small pellets that are used to manufacture other products, such as school desks and cellphone covers,” explains Reynders.

The partnership is preparing for rapid annual expansion in the volume of recycled material to be sold back into the industry, creating wealth from waste and sustainable local revenues.

Reynders states the recycling model is based on established carton-recycling businesses in Brazil and seeks to include partners, from entrepreneurs and local businesses to government.

Edited by: Terence Creamer
Creamer Media Editor
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