Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Can You Recycle Your "Cartons" (aseptic & regular)?

Another non-recipe post, but I had to share this because it is a source of confusion for many.

I am really upset.  Let me put it this way, for the last 12 months or so I have been throwing away ALL of my soy milk and other non-dairy milk cartons (the refrigerated larger carton, as well as the aseptic kind, different sizes).  Other common aseptic containers/cartons are juice boxes for kids, broth and tomato cartons on the shelves at the store, etc.  All the non-dairy milks have a version that is aseptically packaged: soy, almond, oat, hazelnut, rice, etc.

Once we went vegan at the beginning of Dec. 2009, I tried recycling the Silk half gallon cartons a few times.  We still lived in Philly and they took them (but they took everything in Philly and just threw out what couldn't be recycled, so I was never sure what was up with these). Once we moved to New Jersey in January 2010, they would get thrown back in my driveway (classic New Jersey).  The cartons weren't imprinted with the universal recycling symbol (the triangle of arrows thingy), so I thought that was it, and they couldn't be recycled.  So, I've been throwing them out and complaining that that is CRAZY to produce a so-called environmental product in non-recyclable package.  I was only partially wrong.  Read on.

So, I started searching.  Came across this website: http://www.obviously.com/recycle/guides/common.html which was really old (from like 2001) but mentioned that the aseptic folks have spent a lot of time and money trying to educate consumers about how to recycle their containers (um, how about printing any information ON the cartons?).  They mentioned that Coca Cola had a list of aseptic recycling locations, and to call their number, 1-800-888-6488.  I actually called it.  It is now Minute Maid, but the operator who I spoke with was very nice and gave me this website:

This is the website for the Carton Council (did you know there was one?)
Their website lets you put in your state and then displays all the towns that currently recycle "cartons" which is what both the bigger refrigerated soy milks are called as well as the smaller, aseptic containers.  And, guess what? My town was listed.  I promptly called the Public Works and spoke to a very nice lady.  I told her what happened several times last year to my cartons (thrown in my driveway) and she explained that the recycling of cartons in my town is new (like in the last 6 months or so, she wasn't sure) so to try again.  She told me to call her back if they guys throw it in the driveway again.  Likely, she said, they just need some reminding of the new recycling rules.  Victory.

I love a happy ending.

There are still many areas of the country where you still absolutely cannot recycle cartons/aseptics (many places distinguish different types of "cartons" so check your town's recycling rules).  Aseptic and carton recycling is mostly new, within the last few years.  Check http://www.aseptic.org/ to see if your town recycles cartons.  It is a well organized website and easy to use.  The search box is right in the middle of the home page (revolutionary, I know).

Oh, and my next post will be about junk mail, or what we can do to stop it.  When is it going to become ILLEGAL?? It is incredibly wasteful and horrible for the environment.  And it is very difficult to stop.   It seems to be the only thing keeping the USPS in business. I feel badly for the workers, but we need to stop this now outdated and totally wasteful practice.  More to come...

I'll keep you guys posted, no pun intended.

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