Mind the carton recycling gap, Minnesota
Minnesotans are good recyclers, but many are not aware they should be recycling food and beverage cartons. According to our recent survey, Minnesotans do a good job of recycling most materials, but not all residents know that food and beverage cartons can also be recycled. More than 76 percent of our survey respondents reported they recycle materials like aluminum cans, paper and plastic bottles, though only 64 percent that report they always recycle their cartons.
“While these reported rates are actually pretty strong, we want to take advantage of the state’s high support of recycling to ensure that this is also applying to food and beverage cartons,” said Jason Pelz, our Vice President of recycling projects.
Minnesota is at the forefront of carton recycling technology. Last year, Dem-Con Companies, a Shakopee-based recycling, processing and disposal company, piloted a carton recycling robot that uses artificial intelligence to sort food and beverage cartons from other materials.
“Installing the robot last year has allowed us to increase our carton recovery, capturing a valuable commodity for recycling, with less reliance on manual labor, our number one challenge in the recycling industry,” said Bill Keegan, president of Dem-Con Companies. “By using artificial intelligence, the robot learns more every day, improving its efficiency at sorting cartons. When the robot arrived, it initially had a lot of learning to do, but within weeks, it progressed before our eyes. We watched it develop its recognition capabilities and now it does an excellent job, but still continues to learn and improve. It’s consistent, reliable, and I would definitely recommend this to other facilities that are looking to improve their sorting capabilities.”
To help raise awareness of food and beverage carton recycling in Minnesota, we just launched a new consumer education campaign. Beginning now through the end of the year, residents in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Bloomington, Brooklyn Park, Plymouth and Maple Grove will begin seeing materials on social media with more information about carton recycling.
“Recycling is still one of the easiest ways to help our planet, and we’re working to ensure recycling of food and beverage cartons is as convenient as possible for Minnesotans, both at the curb and at the recycling facilities,” said Pelz.
This was originally posted as a press release on our Carton Opportunities website.
Photo credit: Eureka Recycling