Not every waste product is recyclable, and attempts to mix non-recyclable items into the recycling bin can lead to contamination that impedes the recycling process.
To this effect, many people wonder if you can recycle used juice boxes. Continue reading to find out this answer and more!
Can You Recycle Juice Boxes?
Large, multi-use juice cartons with a plastic, screw-on cap are almost universally recyclable. Furthermore, smaller, single-serve juice boxes with straw inserts are not universally recyclable, however, there are improved recycling processes that are allowing them to be recycled in an increasing number of locations worldwide.
Before throwing any type of juice box into the recycling bin, it is best to speak with your waste management company to confirm whether or not it will be accepted with the recycling. So continue reading below as we’ll discuss how various juice boxes are recycled and more.
Can You Recycle Juice Boxes?
As mentioned, although juice cartons and boxes are likely recyclable, you will first want to check with your local waste removal company.
Furthermore, you may be able to throw the carton in with paper recycling if it consists of a high enough paper percentage.
However, the most likely scenario is that old juice boxes must be mixed in with commingled recycling.
Commingled recycling is where all plastic, metal, glass, and lined paper products go to be sorted before recycling.
After being sorted, the old juice boxes will have any plastic or aluminum lining removed, with the remnants of the box going into regular paper recycling.
When throwing your old juice boxes into the commingled recycling bin, the following are some best practices to ensure that they get recycled as efficiently as possible:
- Keep them intact – never crush or cut your old juice boxes before placing them in the recycling bin. Although you save room by breaking the boxes down, it is harder for the machines to sort them when they are not in their full form, causing them to get mixed in with the wrong type of recyclables.
- Remove all accessories – although processes are getting better for removing straws from the interiors, it is still better recycling etiquette to take the straws out and discard them separately. If you have a larger juice carton with a screw-on lid, remove the lid before placing it in the recycling bin.
- Rinse the juice box – while it is not convenient to clean a waste item before throwing it out, sticky residue can impede the recycling process. Drain the juice box of any remaining liquid and give it a quick rinse before tossing it in the recycling bin.
Are Juice Pouches Recyclable?
Although most juice cartons with plastic, screw-on lids, and the individual juice boxes typically served as part of school lunch are recyclable, plastic juice pouches are not recyclable.
These juice pouches are made of different plastic, aluminum, and polyester layers that can be recycled individually but are too complicated for most recycling centers to separate.
Therefore, as a result, all juice pouches should be thrown in with the trash.
How To Dispose Of Juice Boxes
Although juice boxes are accepted in more than 60% of curbside recycling services in the United States, there is a chance that you live in a location that is an exception.
If this is the case, there are several options for you to dispose of your juice boxes as mindfully as possible:
- Save your juice boxes – although your curbside recycling service may not accept your old juice boxes, there is a good chance that there is a recycling center near your home that will. Throw your old juice boxes into a designated receptacle and take them to the recycling station as it fills up.
- Buy in bulk – it is always better to buy in large quantities, as it will reduce the amount of packaging versus using a bunch of smaller, individually wrapped units. When your large container is empty, use it to mix a new batch of juice or another type of drink.
- When in doubt, throw it out – perhaps the convenience of individually packaged juice boxes is too great to bypass, and you do not feel like creating a separate waste bin specifically for juice boxes. In this case, throw your juice boxes in with the trash. It is actually better to throw an item away than erroneously mix it in with the recycling when it is non-recyclable.
Are Juice Boxes Biodegradable?
Even though juice boxes are mostly recyclable, they are not biodegradable due to their lining.
Furthermore, the aluminum and plastic lining inside the juice box helps prevent leaks and helps keep the beverage fresh over packaging that is 100% paper.
While it is easy for many contemporary recycling centers to remove this lining from the juice box before recycling, the lining, left intact, makes the juice box non-biodegradable.
Even a juice box that is 95% paper, and 5% plastic will not break down when left in nature, so it is imperative that your juice boxes be disposed of mindfully.
How To Reuse And Upcycle Old Juice Boxes
In addition to recycling your old juice boxes, it is also extremely important to find creative ways to reuse and repurpose them before throwing them out.
The following are some creative ways to upcycle your old juice boxes.
Not only do these ideas help you get the most out of the old boxes, but they eliminate the need for you to buy packaging associated with a new product.
- New Drink Container – the simplest way to repurpose your old juice boxes is by using them for what they were originally intended: to hold drinks. Rather than going out and buying plastic pitchers and jugs, use your old juice cartons to mix your drinks instead.
- Planters – the plastic and aluminum liner that makes the juice box leak-resistant makes them a strong choice for a DIY planter, as the carton will be an effective host for the soil without absorbing water. Poke a few holes in the bottom of the carton, add the appropriate soil and minerals, plant your flowers, and watch them grow!
- Pantry Containers – old juice boxes make for great storage. Simply cut the top off the box and use them to store rice, beans, candies, and any other type of bulk pantry item you may have. Just be sure to find a suitable covering for the box to keep out dust and bugs.
- Desk Organizer – rather than buy a new case to house all of your office supplies, an old juice box makes for a cost-free alternative. Store all of your pencils, pens, staplers, and sticky notes inside the hull of the old box, using the sides of another old box as dividers, if necessary.
To learn more, you can also read our posts on whether you can recycle parchment paper, whether you can recycle peanut butter jars, and whether you can recycle pens, markers, and highlighters.
Juice boxes are recyclable. Although they are lined with a plastic or aluminum coating that must be removed before recycling, modern recycling centers are increasingly adept at separating this lining from the paper base, making juice boxes accepted as part of recycling programs.
However, if your recycling service is one of the few remaining that does not accept juice boxes, there are many ways to mindfully reuse and repurpose your old juice boxes to enhance sustainability.