30 October 2017
by Elisabeth Comere, Director Environment and Government Affairs

Introducing a new packaging option for a drink as ubiquitous as water may seem like a difficult challenge, but our role helping JUST Water become one of only two bottled water options available at the Houston Zoo proves it can be done.

The carton package was key for JUST’s entry into the zoo, which was looking for a sustainable, recyclable package. They found the answer with an innovative, environmentally friendly carton bottle that is made of 82% renewable materials, including Forest Stewardship Council®(FSC®)-certified paperboard and sugarcane.

By connecting the zoo’s waste management team with Republic Service’s carton recycling program managers, we ensured that the zoo could recycle JUST’s carton bottles and responsibly carry the product and care for the environment.

Zoo visitors now have three options for hydration: purchasing a bottle of JUST Water, buying an aluminum reusable water bottled pre-filled with water, or bringing their own bottles to fill at the zoo’s many new water stations.

Making this important connection only took a day. It helped that we knew exactly who to talk to at Republic. It’s sometimes the case that information exists in silos within an organization – while one team may know that its facilities are fully capable of collecting and handling beverage cartons for recycling, others who work directly with entities like the Houston Zoo may be unaware of this capability. So this was really just a matter of connecting the dots.

Not all partnerships are this quick and easy to establish. Through the Carton Council, we mobilize municipalities that have contracts with waste management companies; waste management companies that are building the business case for collecting new recyclables; and brands to ensure that they are printing the on-pack recycling logo on cartons to  educate consumers on how to properly dispose of them.  By speaking to our customers and the recycling value chain partners, the Carton Council is helping to reduce the number of cartons that become waste.

Our progress around recycling allowed us to quickly help the Houston Zoo. Today, 82 of top 100 communities accept cartons in their local recycling program and over 13,000 municipalities throughout 49 states recycle cartons. This brings the carton recycling access to 61.6% today, a 345% growth since the start of the campaign in 2009.

To advance carton recycling, brand collaboration remains crucial because of their direct interaction with consumers. Recently, Nutpods started a weekly giveaway to their social followers. They collaborated with the Carton Council to include carton recycling information as part of the giveaway prizes. Initiatives like this that demonstrate the brand’s commitment to educating their consumers, and helping raise awareness that cartons are recyclable and should be recycled. 


To learn more about recycling partnerships among local governments, haulers, material recovery facilities, converters, recyclers and companies creating recyclable packaging like Tetra Pak, click here. For more sustainability news, follow @TetraPak_NA_Eco on Twitter.


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