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[GreenYes] Re: milk cartons

** Here's a link to some info on milk carton recycling that may help .

Recycling School Cartons:
1. Over the years, School Carton Recycling has proven to be
challenging. Most schools have not been able to get the school cartons
empty and dry enough so that the valuable paper fiber in the cartons is
preserved and still suitable for a mill to buy. It requires on-going
training not only for the children, but also for the custodial staff.
It also requires diligent monitoring at each lunch period to make sure
that the children are emptying out their cartons and that they are not
throwing unwanted items in with the cartons.
Despite these challenges, there are successful school programs that
have been recycling cartons for years. For those of you who feel like
you have the right stuff to conduct a successful school carton
recycling program, please see listed below two wonderful individuals
who have started and sustained successful school carton recycling
programs for years! Their e-mail addresses are listed below, and you
may contact them for pointers. We also have information on a rack
drying system that has worked well in schools to get cartons empty and
dry. We strongly suggest that you use this method to insure a more
successful carton recycling program. (Please click on Rack Drying
Method For School Cartons to download the document) We have also
included a comprehensive School Recycling Guide and Curriculum that you
can click on.
Should you have any questions about setting up a milk carton and juice
box recycling program, please e-mail one of the following individuals
or visit their web site:

Composting School Cartons:
1. For those of you who are feeling that school carton recycling may
not be quite right for your school, we have some exciting news about
school carton composting and not just composting cartons, but cafeteria
food waste as well.
In the spring of 1997, an innovative program was initiated by the Los
Angeles Unified School District. It's goal? To test the feasibility of
turning school milk cartons into rich, top-quality compost. Working
with their waste hauler, The District has composted over 200 tons of
milk cartons.
Compost is the product of a natural process that breaks down green
waste (leaves, twigs, grasses, etc.) and other organic materials into a
beneficial soil amendment. Cartons are a perfect addition to the
compost mix. Approximately 85% of the carton is paper -- an organic
material. The remainder of the carton is polyethylene plastic. While
plastic does not decompose, during the composting process it is reduced
to very fine particles, which assists in keeping the compost loose.
Composting milk and juice cartons is easy! Students are not required to
drain and dry the cartons. In fact, depending on the program, cafeteria
food wastes and other organics might also be included in the compost.
A successful composting program requires a cooperative partnership
between the students, the District, the recycling/waste hauler, and the
composter. To assist school districts in developing this partnership,
we have developed a "How-To" guide that you can click on and download.

You might want to check out the following resources:

1. Food Waste Diversion in Schools: Final Report,

2. Report on the CIWMB School District Diversion Project,

Kimya Lambert Buy Recycled Section
California Integrated Waste Management Board
State of California
David Lupinski, Director of Recycling, Located in New York State
Eileen Stamp, Recycling Educator, Located in the state of Oregon
Recycling Resources:
Comprehensive School Recycling Guide
School Carton Recycling Curriculum
Rack Drying Method for School Cartons
Papermaking from Cartons
Waste Wise (A Resource Guide for Teachers) by e-mail request

Hello all. This may be more of a rant than a question....
In the Puget Sound/seattle area, we can recycle milk cartons. I am
not sure if this is a recyclable commodity nationally. I purchased a
1/2 gal of Safeway brand, organic milk yesterday (which I am supposed
to be boycotting because they are not allowing their cows out to
pasture - a requirement for labeling organic. But, I was in a pinch).

As I opened the carton this morning, I noticed this round plastic
spout & screw top lid, instead of the traditional and simple way of
opening the carton.
I am assuming this will cause some extra effort for recycling
processors (and/or the diligent home recyclers that will make the
effort to tear the plastic spout out). In addition, it obviously does
not follow DfE principles and adds to the life cycle impacts of this

Michelle Gaither, Technical Research Lead
Pollution Prevention Resource Center mgaither@no.address or gaithermj@no.address

You may want to forward your concern to the Paperboard Packaging
Council, the trade group for manufacturers of such cartons. The
president is Jerome Van de Water, paperboardpackaging@no.address

E. Gifford Stack, Manager, Outreach
Solid Waste Bureau - New Mexico Environment Dept
1101 St. Francis Dr.
Santa Fe, NM 87502
505/827-2653; fax 827-2902

The University of Michigan conducted a limited life cycle analysis of
milk packaging options in 1997. The following link leads to a 4-page
EPA summary of the results: The study did
not compare varying levels of post-consumer content, however found that
the lightest-weight option (a flexible pouch) had lowest energy
requirements and relatively low solid waste burdens. It concludes:
"Refillable HDPE and polycarbonate bottles and the flexible pouch were
shown to be the most environmentally preferable containers with respect
to life cycle energy and solid waste criteria."

Several other evaluations of packaging (including those conducted by
the Tellus Institute and the Oregon DEQ) have documented environmental
benefits associated with replacing virgin content with recycled
content, but typically comparable or even larger environmental benefits
switching to the lightest weight packaging option. Recycled content
and recyclability are important and worthwhile environmental criteria
but when confronted with trade-offs, not necessary the most important
criteria to focus on if one wants to optimize the environmental impacts
of packaging choices.

To Marie Kulick's last question, milk packaged for institutional users
can come in several types of packaging, including retail-style
packaging but also 5-gallon polyethylene bags inside rigid plastic
crates. These are used in the "steel cow" type of milk dispenser
featured at many institutional cafeterias. Our experience with bulk
dispensers is that they typically save money for the user while
significantly reducing solid waste generation.

Good luck with your research.

David Allaway
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Solid Waste Policy & Program Development
811 S.W. Sixth Avenue
Portland, OR 97204
phone: (503) 229-5479
fax: (503) 229-6977
TTY: (503) 229-6993
Toll Free in Oregon: 1-800-452-4011


Most important in containers is having them be made of the most
environmental material possible and the most reusable possible along
with the traditional health requirements of no effect on the food they
contain. Ideal is 100% post-consumer content of a type of plastic (for
those containers that absolutely have to be plastic--last choice if
possible) that is readily recyclable in the majority of
communities--basically no.1 and no. 2 plastics.

Good luck and please share with us what you decide on---Sandra

Sandra Cannon, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Technical Assistance for the U.S.
Department of Energy
Tel. 509-529-1535

-----Original Message-----
From: bounce-30893-1326@no.address
[mailto:bounce-30893-1326@no.address] On Behalf Of Marie Kulick
Sent: Wednesday, July 19, 2006 10:25 AM
To: Environmentally-preferable products procurement
Subject: [eppnet] Dairy packaging questions

This is my first posting to the list serv and am very happy to have
this resource available.

I am developing a survey for dairy product suppliers that will address
several sustainability issues most of which are related to production
methods such as use of rBGH, but I would like to include a question or
two about packaging.

Can anyone tell me if there are issues specific to dairy containers or
the packaging materials used to ship them that I should consider? Do
you have any examples of questions a purchaser would want to ask their
dairy product suppliers? If you do not know, the answer to these
can anyone tell me if the materials used to manufacture milk and other
dairy containers for institutional scale products varies from the
materials used to make retail containers (e.g. HDPE, PP and wax coated

Marie Kulick, Senior Associate
Food and Health Program
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
2105 First Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Tel. (612) 870-3422 Fax. (612) 870-4846

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