COVID Demand Highlights Importance of Paper Carton Recycling

Local paper mills need recyclable materials to keep up with increase in demand for products

A media release from the Carton Council, June 23, 2020

CHEBOYGAN, Michigan – When Michigan residents recycle, they aren’t only helping the
environment, they are also helping manufacturing in the state. Great Lakes Tissue, located in
Cheboygan, as well as other paper mills throughout North America are encouraging consumers to
continue recycling to provide the feedstock needed to keep up with the increase in demand for
certain products brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Food and beverage cartons, made mainly of paper, are an example of a recyclable material that
provides the needed feedstock for paper mills to create new products. Paper products, like toilet
paper, tissues, and paper towels, have continued to be in short supply across the country with many
manufacturers struggling to keep up.

Once cartons are collected, paper mills like Great Lakes Tissue use a hydrapulper (a piece of
equipment that resembles a giant kitchen blender) to extract and separate the fiber from the
cartons. The pulp that comes out is used to make new paper products.

“Recycling programs are extremely important for our facility. We use 100% recycled raw material to
the tune of over 2,100 tons per month, with over half of that coming directly from post-consumer
recycling operations across the U.S. and Canada,” said Tori Beckett, Vice President at Great Lakes
Tissue. “With all the toilet paper shortages across the country, our operations are still at maximum capacity
production and need all of the cartons we can get our hands on. We only keep a couple of
weeks’ supply on hand and if the collections stop, we do fear we will not be able to keep a
sustainable operation running.”

By continuing to recycle food and beverage cartons that package products like milk, juice, soup,
broth, and wine, among other accepted recyclable paper materials, Michigan residents can help to
avoid shortages of the pulp needed to manufacture essential items.

“We are thankful for all of the front-line personnel working to keep this valuable service going and
ensure the recycling supply chain keeps functioning,” said Jason Pelz, Vice President of Recycling
Projects for the Carton Council of North America. “Not only does recycling paper help save natural
resources, but it helps local manufacturing, benefiting the environment, the economy, and meeting
consumer demand all at once.”

Though recycling is helping to fill the paper shortages void, a national survey conducted in May by
the Carton Council shows that many consumers are not making the connection. When asked how
much impact recycling at home has on helping with paper shortages, 33% of consumers reported
they thought recycling might have some impact on helping with the shortage, but they weren’t sure
how much it helped. While 18% felt that recycling had no impact at all on alleviating paper product
shortages, 13% were unsure and had not thought about the connection. To help improve awareness
of recycling’s role in making new paper products, the Carton Council has launched a new digital
campaign in Wisconsin.

Nationwide, some recycling programs have had to temporarily stop or slow service due to the
pandemic. Residents should check with their local municipality to confirm the overall status of their
recycling program and if cartons are accepted where they live. Deemed an essential service in many
communities, recycling facilities, haulers, and local governments have been working hard to
continue providing recycling to residents.

The Carton Council is composed of four leading carton manufacturers, Elopak, Evergreen Packaging,
SIG Combibloc, and Tetra Pak. Formed in 2009, the Carton Council works to deliver long-term
collaborative solutions in order to divert valuable cartons from the landfill. Through a united effort,
the Carton Council is committed to building a sustainable infrastructure for car ton recycling
nationwide and works toward their continual goal of adding access to carton recycling throughout
the U.S. For more information, visit RecycleCartons.com.

The campaign is aimed at informing consumers of the valuable role they play in funneling a steady
stream of recycled cartons to recyclers and manufacturers in this great time of need. The campaign will
reach consumers and sustainability professionals with a steady stream of information across digital
platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, to encourage them to
#RecycleYourCartons and explain how cartons make the transformation into in demand paper products
like toilet paper.

Food and beverage cartons are highly recyclable materials that come in two kinds: refrigerated
cartons that store, milk, juice and egg substitutes; and shelf-stable cartons that are packaged for broths,
milks, juices, soups and even wine. When sorted by themselves at materials recovery facilities (MRFs),
cartons are a valuable material in high demand. Made mostly from paper, a renewable resource,
cartons have become popular container choice for food and beverage products as they are
lightweight and compact, with a low carbon footprint. When recycled, they are used to make office
and writing paper, tissues, paper towels, and even sustainable building and construction materials.

Great Lakes Tissue Company is a manufacturer of 100% recycled tissue and towel products located in
Cheboygan, MI. Our parent rolls and converted products are catered to the away from home market
with an emphasis on consistent quality, timely delivery, and excellent value. In addition to being
manufactured from pre- and post-consumer content materials, we generate much of our own power
through our in-house hydroelectric generators. All our products exceed the Environmental Protection
Agency’s recommended guidelines for recycled towel and tissue products.

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Emmet County Department of Public Works
200 Division Street, G-76, Petoskey, MI 49770 • 231-348-0640

For additional information on Emmet County, please visit www.emmetcounty.org

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