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The Truth About Carton Recycling: Myth vs. Reality

By March 3, 2015November 16th, 2023No Comments

Carton recycling continues to gain momentum in Texas. With recycling programs across the state adding cartons, there are several common questions that are raised. Read about a few of the most common myths and realities about cartons.

Myth:  Cartons have a “wax” coating.

Reality: Food and beverage cartons do not contain any wax. Cartons are made mainly from paper in the form of paperboard. What you think of as “wax” on a carton is actually a thin layer of polyethylene (plastic). Recycling program guidelines that say “wax” or waxy coated cartons are incorrect. Instead use this language – “food and beverage cartons such as milk, juice, soup, creamer, and broth.”

Myth: Cartons should be flattened and if it has a cap, the cap needs to be removed.

Reality: Cartons should be placed in the recycling container in their original form – not flattened and the caps can be left on. This is the best to ensure they are recycled to obtain their truest value.

Myth: A carton is not recyclable if a recycling logo is not on the packaging.

Reality: Whether or not you see an actual recycling symbol on a carton you buy, they ARE recyclable. The aseptic and gable top cartons found in grocery stores today are all recyclable. However, not all Americans can recycle them in their communities just yet. The Carton Council is working hard to change that, and today more than half of American households CAN recycle cartons they consume.

Myth: The material that comes from cartons when they are recycled is not valuable. They aren’t really turned into anything else.

Reality: Cartons are a valuable source of material, representing some of the cleanest and best long fiber currently in the residential recycling stream. Paper mills use this fiber to make paper products such as tissue, paper towels, etc. In addition, some companies use the material from cartons to produce sustainable building materials such as wallboard and ceiling tiles.

Myth: You can’t recycle cartons in most U.S. communities.

Reality: In recent years, food and beverage carton recycling has been added to thousands of residential recycling programs, and today, more than half of American households can recycle cartons. This includes communities in 48 states and 77 of the top 100 U.S. cities. And that number is growing every day, thanks to strong collaboration between the Carton Council, local governments, and recycling facilities. Here in Texas, 47% of the households across the state can recycle cartons.

For more information about cartons and carton recycling, please contact Carton Council via email at or visit our websites – for general information, and for in-depth information about adding cartons to your program.