CARTON RECYCLING: New Program Begins

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You’re probably used to recycling newspaper, junk mail and glass bottles. But now, there’s something else people in the metro can throw in the recycling bin. And, it will help a local company make a unique product.

Metro Waste Authority Public Affairs Director Reo Menning says, “Starting July 1st, you can add milk cartons and orange juice containers or anything that’s like this.” Things like coated cardboard food containers that previously couldn’t be sorted at the Greenstar Recycling facility in Des Moines.

Now, a new machine is able to sort the material milk cartons are made of. Greenstar Recycling General Manager Kelley McReynolds says, “Basically it goes through the machine and it takes a picture of the containers as they’re going through.”

McReynolds says infrared technology detects the cartons and separates the content from the other materials. A Carton Council grant helped pay for the $550,000 machine. Menning says it will help keep about 375 tons out of the landfill every year. She says, “It’s relatively small to the overall tonage that we get at the landfill, but every little bit helps.”

The recycled cartons will come to a facility about a mile away to a company called ReWall. The new business will buy the recycled cartons to make boards used for construction. CEO David Phillips says, “ReWall makes 100% recycled building materials.”

Phillips says his company started selling wall boards and ceiling tiles last September. Crews shred the cartons and press melt the materials into boards. The company previously got the recycled products from other cities. But, Phillips says he’s excited to be able to buy used milk cartons and orange juice containers locally. He says, “Hopefully everybody will realize that they can put those cartons in single stream recycling and that they’ll get to us and that the buildings around them will be made from those cartons.”

You can find the ReWall products at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore located on Euclid Avenue.

As for the cartons, McReynolds with Greenstar Recycling says to take off the cartons’ plastic lids.

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