Why can’t frozen food boxes always be recycled?

Boy was I excited when I saw this article. The question I get asked most often is “Now what is it you do again?” The second most FAQ is “Why can’t I recycle this _______?”

Earth911.com tells us what we can’t recycle frozen food boxes.

Frozen food boxes are made from paperboard lined with polyethylene, a type of plastic that helps maintain the structure of the container when it’s exposed to cold temperatures.

According to Terry Gellenbeck , of the City of Phoenix, box manufacturers put “plastic within the matrix of the paper to make it water repellant or keep its insulative properties.”

This added plastic helps protect food from freezer burn and ensures that the paper container won’t get soggy. This type of packaging is used not only for frozen food boxes, but also for things like soda and beer cartons that you wouldn’t want falling apart if they were to get wet.

While good for packaging food, this plastic can make recycling frozen food boxes more difficult because it is impossible to remove the plastic from the paperboard, and some municipalities cannot accept this plastic into their recycling stream.  What a recycling facility accepts depends largely on what a material can be made into. In many places where paper products are recycled, there may not be buyers interested in using a lower grade of paper (that includes small amounts of polyethylene).

 

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