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ACE UK CEO: Liquid carton recycling campaign is boosting UK recycling reforms

#ACE UK CEO: Liquid carton recycling campaign is boosting UK recycling reforms

Headshot of a  man.
Richard Hands, CEO of ACE UK.

07 Feb 2024 — The Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE) UK, the trade association for the UK’s food, drink and other liquid carton manufacturers, is launching Carton Ready, a new campaign to support the implementation of the UK Government’s “Simpler Recycling” reforms.

The reforms will ensure that from March 31, 2026, all English households will be able to recycle food, drink and other liquid cartons, mandating their collection alongside plastic and other dry-recyclable materials.

Richard Hands, CEO of ACE UK, tells Packaging Insights that while two-thirds of English local authorities currently provide curbside collection for liquid cartons, a third do not. “This means that local authorities which have not already set up curbside liquid carton collections will need to update and align their processes with the waste and recycling reforms.”

“ACE UK has launched the Carton Ready campaign to assist local authorities that do not currently offer curbside liquid carton collection, with the team providing advice to local authorities on successfully establishing curbside collection for liquid cartons.”

Changing UK legislation
The UK Government’s waste and recycling reforms will significantly change the country’s recycling landscape, stresses Hands.

Pourring milk into a glass.ACE UK’s campaign aims at facilitating curbside collection for liquid F&B cartons. One of the key changes is that from March 2025, all businesses in England will be able to recycle the same list of core materials no matter where they are in the country, with households following in March 2026.

“Liquid cartons will be collected alongside plastic and other dry-recyclable materials. From 2026, Defra will also introduce a binding recycling target for fiber-based composite packaging, which will apply to liquid cartons and other items,” he explains.

ACE UK’s Carton Ready Implementation Toolkit includes a step-by-step guide on how local authorities can set up and maintain effective curbside collection services from different starting points — whether they are reviewing their waste management contracts, extending or renegotiating contracts. The toolkit also contains information on best practices from local authorities that have set up successful curbside collection for liquid cartons.

Informing households
ACE UK is collaborating with several local councils to improve liquid carton collection and recycling rates. The Carton Ready Implementation Toolkit is based upon decades of experience supporting councils establishing curbside collections for cartons.

“Our detailed step-by-step flowchart helps keep the process as streamlined and stress-free as possible, but we acknowledge that every local authority is unique and with that comes its unique challenges. Our team has decades of experience delivering innovative infrastructure and implementation projects, so we are confident that there is no challenge we can’t tackle,” asserts Hands.

When asked how consumer awareness of the new carton collection procedure can be improved, the association’s CEO says that it works closely with governments and local authorities to ensure that they provide clear information to their local households to help them recycle safely.

“With the recycling reforms set to be phased into businesses and households over the next two years, we are confident that households will be well prepared for its implementation,” says Hands.

Furthermore, an interactive map on the ACE UK website also helps residents find out where and how they can recycle cartons in their area.

By Natalie Schwertheim

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