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RE: [GreenYes] Plastic-Coated Cartons
Two thoughts about polycoat cartons (aka 'gabletops'). First, a plant in 
British Columbia is being re-tooled to process this material. This was done 
in order to allow juice producers to continue to sell product in these 
cartons: all beverage packaging in our province must, by law, be 'able to 
be recycled or reused'. To my knowledge, the plant still cannot 
successfully process gabletops, not because of the poly but because the 
'wet-strength' feature of the paper requires long residence times in the 
pulper and yields material that cannot be used in paper production. Until 
the local plant can process gabletops, they are being shipped outside of 
the province to plants that, apparently, can process them. (I have never 
asked but would be curious to know why the brand-new state-of-the-art 
processing plant here cannot do what presumably older plants elsewhere can 

Second, if the alternative of burning the paper fibres from polycoats is 
under consideration, I would have concerns about the conditions under which 
they were burned. Polycoat paper is bleached, often with chlorine. Dioxins 
are formed from combustion of chlorine-bleached paper; these compounds can 
be destroyed in turn through combustion I am told -- but this depends on 
maintaining sufficient temperatures (which may be not be achievable).


At 09:35 AM 09/26/2001 -0400, Jay Donnaway wrote:
>Thanks for bringing this up Van,
>For the few mills that do take polycoated cartons in their "anything that
>tears" spec, the plastic coating generally does not get recycled into new
>plastic products.
>One option for the really low grade recovered papers is paper derived fuel
>pellets.  Some mills are getting into this with their sludge and light
>material that has been screened out of the pulper (waxed OCC, carrier stock,
>plastic film such as bags, tape, and barrier coatings).  When burned at high
>temperature in stoker-fed coal-fired boilers, paper pellets or cubes make an
>attractive supplemental fuel that can provide some cost advantages and
>emission reductions.  Here's an example;
>City Carton, a major paper packer in Iowa, started producing fiber fuel
>cubes as a way to cut losses on the nonrecyclable paper culled from their
>sorting and baling operations, and is now pursuing outside sources of
>nonrecyclable paper, such as feed bags.  An Air Force base in Alaska is
>producing cubes from all of their paper and light plastic waste, with
>significant savings on fuel cost and waste disposal.  As long as PVC is
>avoided, burning plastic waste is no worse a fuel than the oil it was
>derived from, and recycled fuels are definitely preferable to virgin fuels,
>be they fossil or biomass.
>Jay Donnaway
>State Recycling Coordinator
>Georgia Department of Community Affairs
>60 Executive Park South, NE
>Atlanta, GA 30329-2231
>TEL: 404-679-3161
>FAX:  404-679-0646
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Van Calvez []
> > Sent: Tuesday, September 25, 2001 9:30 PM
> > To:   GreenYes
> > Subject:      [GreenYes] Plastic-Coated Cartons
> >
> > Hi Folks,
> >
> > Does anyone know if plastic coated milk cartons (and other cardboard
> > packaging) can be recycled somewhere in the US?
> > Other examples include ice cream cartons (even Ben&Jerry's "ecopint") and
> > paper soft drink cups.
> > Most of these things used to be covered in wax (which made them
> > compostable
> > at least).
> > Now they seem to be covered with the thinnest layer of plastic.
> >
> > What I most dislike about this is that the plastic coating is almost
> > undetectable
> > and can create a perception among consumers
> > that the product is compostable (in a compost pile), and therefore, more
> > environmentally-friendly than polystyrene.
> >
> > If there is recycling of the plastic-coated containers, does the plastic
> > get
> > recycled as well or just thrown away?
> >
> > Many thanks!
> > signed,
> > Van "The Soy Milk Cartons Are Stacking Up" Calvez
> > Human~Nature Solutions
> > Bainbridge, WA
> >
> > P.S. despite all the grumbling and the endless messages, I love this
> > listserve!
> >
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