The confronting truth about Liquid paperboard


Mylk cartons... What’s the story with them anyway? Why don’t we use them at Mylk Made? 

There is quite a bit of misleading information out there and a lot of confusion surrounding the ‘recycling’ of Liquid Paperboard (LPB) in New Zealand. (For those who don’t know what LPB is, the majority of household mylk brands’ cartons are made out of it). 

UYO (Use Your Own) - a not-for-profit, responsible-cafe finder has set the story straight about the recycling of LPB, whether it gets recycled in New Zealand, and how it actually gets processed. 

With great, to-the-point information about LPBs so hard to come by, I’ve inserted UYO’s key points below. 

“Liquid paperboard (sometimes referred to as Tetrapak, but this is a brand name) is very difficult to recycle because it is a composite product - meaning it's made up of multiple materials. LPB is made of multiple layers of paper & plastic, as well as a thin layer of aluminium foil sandwiched in the middle. There is no LPB recycling plant in NZ" - UYO. 

Key points:

  • We don't recycle Tetrapak (liquid paperboard) in NZ
  • The stuff we do collect is sent off-shore for processing
  • It's not true recycling because Tetrapak isn't made into another Tetrapak, it's downcycled
  • Before downcycling can even happen, LPB needs to be separated into its constituent parts and this is an energy and water intensive process. 
  • In the end, products have to basically be invented in order to find something to do with the materials (particularly the plastic and aluminium stuck together) - would we still be making these things if we didn't have all this Tetrapak waste we don't know what to do with? I'd say, probably not.
  • Attempts to set up an LPB plant in NZ or Aus are ongoing. It may happen, but it'll still be downcycling (probably a wood plastic composite - yay, more composite... like wasteful father (LPB), like wasteful son (wood plastic)”

You can also find the full article here. They also talk about other ways to be more eco-friendly including normalising the use of bringing your own containers, plates, bowls, cutlery when buying takeaways. In other words, an amazing group of people doing fantastic things. Keep it up!

According to Sunlive News, 2019 was the original goal for New Zealand to finally have a recycling facility. Now, we are waiting till 2030 for onshore recycling.

“Currently, the only plastic recycling New Zealand has is for PET, at Flight Plastics in Wellington, and Juliet says other plastics needed to be prioritised.”

“Cardboard and glass is recycled here, but most used plastic, paper and metal is shipped and dumped overseas. Some of the country's waste is so badly sorted, it's contaminated, and Indonesia shipped container loads of it back to New Zealand last year.” 

You can read the full article here: Sunlive News, Onshore Recycling.