Myth: Cartons Can Be Recycled Everywhere

Recycling cartons is tedious and costly, which is why roughly 40 percent of the U.S. population lives in an area where cartons cannot be recycled. Cartons are difficult to recycle because they are made of layers of paper, plastic, and aluminum. The plastic or aluminum lining is needed to keep liquids from seeping through the paper. Even when cartons are recycled, they are typically shredded into low-value products like insulation rather than a new carton. 

Even in areas where cartons can be recycled, it may not be worth the effort. A study from the Danish Environmental Protection Agency found that it is better for the planet to incinerate cartons than it is to recycle them because of all the carbon-based energy needed to facilitate the recycling process. 

This post is part of a weekly series on environmental myths. You can find more myths here