Carton Recycling 101

Recycling Cartons is as easy as 1-2-3

It might seem like a small action, but every recycled item helps create a more sustainable future. In three simple steps, you can help preserve natural resources, reduce climate impact and actively help to reduce litter.


any remaining

Keep the cap on

or push the
straw back in

Toss them

into the
recycling bin

Learn About Cartons

What are food and beverage cartons?

Food and beverage cartons are paper-based packages that play an essential role in delivering safe, nutritious food and preventing food waste.

There are two types of food and beverage cartons, both of which are recyclable:

Shelf-Stable Cartons

(or aseptic)

Aseptic cartons are shelf-stable and are often used to store products like broth, soups, juices, nutritional shakes or milk for long periods of time without the need for preservatives or refrigeration. Shelf-stable cartons are made up on average of 74% paper, 22% plastic (polyethylene) and 4% aluminum. These layers keep light and oxygen out which allows them to remain safe on the shelf.

Refrigerated Cartons

(or gable top)

Gable top cartons require refrigeration and are often considered the traditional milk carton. They contain about 80% paper and 20% plastic (polyethylene). These cartons may contain milk, juice, cream or other beverages and are located in the chilled section of the grocery store.

Benefits of food and beverage cartons


They’re made mostly from paperboard, a responsibly-sourced, plant-based renewable material.


Their lightweight structure makes cartons ideal for transporting products and minimizing space and weight in transport.


A low package-to-product ratio means less packaging is required to keep the product inside safe.

Carton Recycling Address Locator

Enter your street address to see if you can recycle cartons in your community

Today, 62% of U.S. households can recycle food and beverage cartons through local programs.

Once you start typing, your address will populate automatically. It will not be stored.

If carton recycling is not available in your area, you have options:

The Process

What happens when you recycle a carton?