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March 27, 2009


Lloyd Alter

Ruben Anderson of the Tyee put it best:

"The places that say they recycle Tetra Paks are liars. What does "re" mean? It means again. Can a Tetra Pak be made into another Tetra Pak? No. Tetra Paks are seven incomprehensibly thin layers of paper, plastic and aluminum. The poor suckers who try to recycle them use giant blenders to mush the paper pulp off the plastic and metal, then they need to separate the plastic from the metal."

The recycling of Tetra Pak is completely for show, to make us feel better about using them.

Devin Taylor

Tetra Pak has a "recycling process" at its plant in Denton for unused packaging; burning the conglomerated 5 layer material in cement kilns...


In Austria there are special boxes just for tetra pak. You flatten the container put in in the box and once it is filled up, put it on the curb on the selected day and it is picked up for recycling. In Sweden they also have a special bin for Tetra Pak recycling...


I try my earnest to recycle, but often wondered about Tetra Paks which I buy because it's the only packaging for coconut water, organic chicken stock, etc. I agree that it does seem counterproductive that Whole Foods and a few organic products uses Tetra Paks, but I hope that the use of it will come to an end. I ask, what is the alternative packaging?

By the way, I googled "Are Tetra Paks recyclable?" and found your blog which I will continue to read.

Thank you for the post.



I arrived here the same way as Antonio and also plan to stick around. :)

I am supremely bummed about this Tetra Pak situation. I know what I *really* need to be doing is making my own darn stock. Sigh.


Clover Stornetta Farms milk cartons: if you look at the underside of the gable-top opening, you'll see it's labeled Tetra Pak. Which is why, on the bottom of the carton, it says "please recycle". I've been putting these in the green bin for curbside compost pick-up (full of my kitchen scraps), but I'm having trouble verifying that it's actually compostable. I suspect that, like other Tetra Paks, there's still a thin layer of plastic.

Andrea Martínez

Dear People,

My name is Andrea and I live in Utila, Honduras, we don't have recycling here in the island or Honduras. We burn the paper and the tetrapak is included do you recommend to burn it or what?

eleki pua



There was ones a good product for liquids of all types, which was also recyclable, its a product that would also remove the scurge of the plastic bottle too, what is it you ask, Glass. It used to be that you got stuff in glass bottles or jars and paid a deposit that you got back when you returned the glass bottle. radical idea try using glass instead of producing more plastic. Its washable and reusable. the only reason we are using plastic is to save the manufacturers money.

lisi howell

Hey all. I was reading from tetra pak's recycle program that the county of SF will allow select cartons via its composting program, even with the plastic spouts. Rock on!


"Only cartons from the refrigerated section are compostable through your Compost collection program."

Any Tetra Paks that are the antiseptic kind (were not refrigerated when you bought them) are still NOT compostable because they contain so many layers of different materials.

This makes me wonder how San Francisco is handling the plastic spouts, because they are clearly not compostable, i.e. you can't put a bunch of plastic in your garden dirt and expect it to go anywhere!

I still don't understand what is wrong with the old-fashioned milk carton. Why do we need the plastic spout to begin with?


I do not think we can turn back the clock on tetra pak packaging. We should lobby that manufacturers use glass for half their production and 50 percent only in tetra paks. Let the consumer exercise their choice.

Maneckji Appoo

I am finally realizing that it's not just me bummed with the issue of how to recycle tetra paks. On the one hand, they should certainly use recycled paper. There is one issue - will the contents of the packing be preserved the same way if it were indeed recycled? I'm a psychologist and not an Environmental scientist, so I don't know.

I hope someone can do some concrete research into the application of recycled paper in Tetrapacking. Considering the amount of cartons that I only use within one month, it pains me to realize that so many trees are going down just for the food that I consume. In my country, Pakistan, there is unfortunately no system whatsoever of recycling Tetrapaks on a mass level. I have tried my level best to spread awareness and shall certainly continue to do so, specifically to avoid landfills getting used up unnecessarily.


Ell Jay

I just take my old-fashioned beer can opener--the kind we used to call a "church key" -- and pop out the plastic spout. Easy-peasy.


There used to be a program in the Washington DC area which collected tetra paks and sent them to third world nations (not sure where?) where they were cut into strips and weaved into hats and purses. There are a few websites with cute craft projects you can do at home with tetrapaks. Has anyone else hard of another program like this? The one in the DC area no longer exists to my knowledge.


Everyone should watch a documentary called "Bag It" they dont so much touch on tetra packs, but it is eye opening. I myself found this blog by googling if tetra packs are recyclable. I work full time and also a student so these little packaged soups and stocks as well as the soy and hemp milk I drink make it convienient for me to make meals. I always wonder about recycling or composting, I just pop the plastic part out and toss in my reclcling bin...finally got around to researching if my efforts are worthless.


Great post, thank you!

Bob Carlsmith

For milk I have a choice between Tetra pack and plastic jugs. Of the two which would be the better choice.

Dick Stomp

Look at http://www.hedra.nl/keten/recycling
in Dutch but will be translated by Google...

Noel Dreu

There are alternative use for tetra paks here in the Philippines we try to make use of the used tetra paks, by sterilizing it and then crafting it into bags, wallets, and other crafts that concerns tetra paks.

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