Are Milk Cartons Recyclable?

Over the years, milk has become a breakfast staple in many households around the world.

But while it’s great that we’re getting all the nutrients milk has to offer, this mass consumption raises one concern – what are we supposed to do with all the milk cartons we’re left with? Can they be recycled?

Well, we have just the answers you seek. In today’s post, we will talk about all things milk carton recycling.

Are waxed milk cartons recyclable?

While waxed milk cartons are recyclable, some facilities can’t do it. On average, only 62% of US communities can recycle these cartons.

Why are milk cartons not recyclable in some places?

Since milk cartons are usually made of a mixture of paper, plastic, and sometimes aluminum, recyclers can find it a challenge to separate these different elements.

Interestingly, it is these different elements, particularly plastic and aluminum, that give the cartons their waxy look – real wax hasn’t been used to make them in years.

Unfortunately, though, the process of separating them is expensive, something that some recyclers can’t invest in. So when you send your milk cartons to them, they just drop them off at the landfill.

Ultimately, to ensure that this doesn’t happen, you need to understand how to properly recycle your milk cartons.

How do I recycle a milk carton?

Before you even think of throwing your milk carton into your recycle bin, you need to check in with your local authorities. They are the only ones who can tell you for sure whether your curbside recycling program accepts these cartons or not.

Even if they don’t, don’t worry though – you can easily make alternative arrangements.

You can mail your cartons to any of the following facilities:

  • Emmet County Recycling, 7363 Pleasantview Road, Harbor Springs, MI 49740
  • Altogether Recycling, 645 W 53rd Place, Denver, CO 80216
  • Tidewater Fiber, 1958 Diamond Hill Road, Chesapeake, VA 23324
  • Firstar Fiber, 10330 “I” Street, Suite 100, Omaha, NE 68127

Alternatively, you could look into whether your community hosts drop-off days for the collection of such cartons.

Do milk cartons go in paper or plastic recycling?

While some people advise that your milk cartons should go in your plastic recycling, this question is better answered by your local authorities.

Do you need to rinse out milk cartons before recycling them?

Although rinsing is not a requirement for your milk cartons to be recycled, it does help prevent odors and pests. Also, it reduces the risk of you accidentally recycling a carton that still has milk in it.

Another thing you can do to prepare your carton for recycling is to remove any caps, straws, or fancy extras from it.

How are milk cartons recycled?

Once you recycle your milk cartons, they are either:

  • Sent to a paper mill and put in a Hydrapulper that separates the paper from the plastic/aluminum.
  • Sent to a recycler who specializes in making construction products. They will then shred and press the cartons into sheets to make construction boards.

Recycling is the way to go!

Whichever way your milk cartons are recycled, the important thing is that they are not adding waste to landfills. So the more milk cartons you recycle the better!

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