The US Carton Council has targeted 50% recycling access for households to recycle the packaging after the rate grew more than 100% in three years.
The council cited a lack of access to consumers as a major problem for industry to up recycling rates of food and beverage cartons.
But it reported that the number of households with access to carton recycling has passed 40%, representing 47.9m households.
This is an increase of 128% based on a 18% access to curbside recycling when the council was formed.
The group, formed in 2009, includes Elopak, SIG, Tetra Pak, Evergreen Packaging as members and Weyerhaeuser as an associate member.
Industry is targeting 50% access to curbside carton recycling as 43 states currently accept cartons.
There are currently seven North American mills and nine international mills that take cartons and more than 250 recycling facilities in the US that accept the packaging.
Benefits of cartons include being made from a renewable resource, lightweight properties and a reduction in carbon footprint for shelf-stable cartons that are shipped and stored without requiring refrigeration, claims the group.
“Our work through the Carton Council is a great example of how business competitors can find common ground and work together to solve big challenges, which in our case is the lack of access to recycle what we know is a very environmentally friendly package—the carton," said Jason Pelz , vice president, environment, Tetra Pak North America, and vice president of recycling projects for Carton Council of North America.
In 2009, 21 million households could recycle shelf-stable and refrigerated cartons, which contain common food and beverage items like milk, broth and juice.
Depending on what area of the country the cartons are recycled in and which paper mill they are sent to, they can be made into office paper and tissues, and used as one of the materials for wallboard manufacturing.
Shelf-stable cartons contain on average 74% paper, 22% polyethylene and 4% aluminum and refrigerated cartons contain about 80% paper and 20% polyethylene.