Are Juice Cartons Recyclable? (And 6 Ways to Reuse Cartons)

All over the world, the juice is many people’s favorite. The reason people embrace juice over sodas and carbonated drinks is not farfetched. Juices are mainly made from natural fruits and are said to have high nutritional value. Without a doubt, this is beneficial to human health, and it is only logical to go for what’s best for the health.

While choosing juices above others is a wise choice, there is, however, a problem attached. The problem is that you cannot always get fresh juice. The way to solve this is by producing the juice in cartons and adding some preservatives. This allows the juice to last for some months.

However, we often ignore the cartons holding the juice. We instead drink the juice and dispose of the carton even in the most environmentally unfriendly way. Due to this, this post considers some salient points with regards to juice cartons.

We consider if you can recycle juice cartons, how they are recycled, and their biodegradability level. Finally, we look at the fantastic things you can do with juice cartons. As you can see, there are a lot of things to learn in this post. So, to not waste more time, let’s dive into it.

Can You Recycle Juice Cartons?

Most times, we are faced with reality after taking what we need from something. The same thing happens after we gulp down the chilled juice. We are soon met with the reality that the juice cartons have little or no use to us.

Due to this, we are faced with what to do with the juice cartons. And one of the things we think about is recycling them. But then, how true is this? Can you recycle juice cartons? Join us as we find that out.

The short answer to this is yes, you can recycle juice cartons. But then, what’s the reason behind this answer? Let’s find out.

Juice cartons and other cartons are considered recyclable materials because they contain materials that the recycling stations find easy to recycle. Average juice cartons contain about 75% paper, 20% polythene and, 5% aluminum foil (to preserve its content for a long time). These materials are easily accepted for recycling. Many recycling companies have ways of separating the aluminum foil and the polythene to dissolve the paper and recycle it.

So, when next you gulp a cup of juice down the throat, always remember that the cartons are also helpful. This way, you can throw the cartons in the recycling bin and be rest assured that it would be recycled.

How Are Juice Cartons Recycled?

That Juice cartons are recyclable does not signify an end to everything. For all that matters, you have to know how the juice cartons are recycled. This would allow you to do the proper thing and follow the right process when you want to recycle the juice cartons.

Below, you will find the processes of recycling a juice carton.

Step 1: Collect

Juice cartons are first collected alongside other recyclable materials. The juice cartons should be emptied of any liquid. This is so that the leftover liquid would not contaminate the whole recyclable materials.

It is also best to remove any plastic, lids, or straws.  Straws can, however, be left inside the pack for recycling together with the carton. Completely emptying the container helps to get rid of pest problems and odor.

To ensure you do not have juice left in the carton, you can rinse it with clean water and drain the water. After you have done this, the next thing is to sort.

Step 2: Sort

Juice cartons are picked up by recycling trucks and taken to recycling plants. They are sorted from other recyclable wastes via infrared technology, which identifies them based on how they reflect light.

Juice cartons can be manually sorted also. This is efficient when the quantities collected are low.

Sorting juice cartons is important because it always helps recycling stations to know which of the juice cartons would be recycled together. Generally, to make the best of a recycling exercise, you have to recycle similar products that would fit the products the recycled materials would be used for.

Step 3: Transport and Recycling

After sorting, the cartons are transported to paper mills, where the cartons are fed into a giant mixer filled with water, called a hydra-pulper. There is a powerful agitator at the bottom of the hydra-pulper that breaks bales of papers and cartons into small pieces.

This mixer rotates around for a couple of minutes. This process separates the paper from the polymers and aluminum. The extracted paper fibers are then washed and ready to be used for paper making.

The paper fibers recovered from the cartons are used to create new products like paper and tissues. The aluminum and polymers can either be recycled or separated to create new aluminum and plastic products, such as building materials and shipping crates. 

Are Juice Cartons Biodegradable?

The environment is a major concern for all of us. And whatever we do, we should always factor in the consequences of our actions on the environment. Following this, we would consider whether juice cartons are biodegradable.

Juice cartons are made from renewable raw material- paper. Paper is biodegradable and recyclable whether it is soiled by water, oil, or food. However, juice cartons are not biodegradable as they have been coated with plastic and aluminum materials to hold the liquid content.

Coating it with plastic and aluminum materials is so it would be able to withstand freezing temperature when refrigerated. Without coating the paper with these thin plastic layers, the liquid will fall apart, neither will it be able to preserve the juice for long.

This the reason juice cartons are not biodegradable. The plastic and aluminum coatings would prevent the paper from breaking down. And unlike papers, aluminum and plastics take an extremely long time for them to biodegrade. For plastic, it could take up to a thousand years to biodegrade.

This state of things makes a compelling point for recycling your juice cartons. Disposing of them in the waste bin would only get them to the landfills. This does not help the environment in any way.

However, there is a silver lining around the corner. There are juice cartons that are recently being made. These juice cartons are PVOH-based and have biodegradable foams. PVOH, biodegradable poly(vinyl alcohol) based foams, have different multilayer cartons that are recycled and composed of low-density polyethylene and cellulose.

These foams are gotten through a modified process without any chemical agent or promoted chemical reactions involved. This makes them degradable.

Though the production level of these kinds of juice cartons is yet to gain ground, there is hope that one day, juice cartons will become biodegradable again. This is a plus for the environment, and the cause should be vehemently pursued.

6 Clever Ways to Reuse Old Juice Cartons

As much as recycling your juice cartons helps to create new products such as building materials and paper products, you can also reuse them for yourself. Juice cartons are paper, more like cardboards because they are thick.

Since cardboards can be used to do a lot of creative things, so can juice cartons. Juice cartons are useful in recreating and doing nice DIY projects. Sounds impossible? Relax and read on.

These are several interesting ways to reuse cartons at home:

1. Lighthouse Lantern

Juice cartons can be used for beautiful outdoor lightings, such as Halloween or even a warm night.

First, make sure your cartons are dry, then design them as you wish. Decorate your windows, and remember to create an opening through which you’ll insert your light. You can use tea lights. You can also use regular or electric candles. But be careful with the traditional candles!

2. Planter

Juice cartons are perfect creative planters because they are water-resistant due to their carton material. This means you can use them for your little plants and watch them grow right before your eyes.

3. Pantry Containers

Cartons can be made into pantry organizers. They can be decorated in any way and be used as easy storage for seasonings, candies, rice, and anything else. All you have to do is find a lid that fits to cover the juice cartons. After this, you can cut the top of the juice cartons to create a large opening to put your things.

This way, you have made a pantry container for yourself.

4. Pencil Case

Your juice cartons can be made into a pencil case for you and your kids. To make this, you cut through the middle of the carton, but not completely. Then you put a zipper in the two sides, and your juicy carton pencil case is ready!

5. Phone Pouch

Your phone will thank you for giving it a comfy new home. To achieve this, flatten the juice carton and then cut it into the shape of your phone. Glue the sides well. You can cover or line the inside with velvet to give it a smooth feel.

6. Carton Wallet

Cut open the carton you would like to use and lay it flat. Make a template of the type of wallet you want, and be sure that the doted elements on the inside are traced well. Cut out the traced lines and fold according to the dotted lines. Your wallet is ready!

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Juice Cartons Made With Papers Alone?

No, juice cartons are not made with papers alone. It is coated with thin plastics to help it hold together the juice. If it is not made this way, the liquid will take apart the paper, and the juice will be a waste.

Are Juice Cartons Bad For the Environment?

Juice cartons would take extremely long years before they biodegrade. This is because of the plastic coatings. If they end up in the landfill, they cause problems for the environment. The best thing is to recycle them.

Should I Leave Juice Caps On When Recycling?

Not all juice cartons have paper lids. Some of them have plastic caps. When recycling some of these juice cartons, you are to remove the plastic caps. This is because the process of recycling plastic materials is different from that of recycling paper.

Can I Leave Excess Juice In The Juice Cartons When Recycling?

No, you can’t. This will make your recycling bin stink, and it could contaminate the recyclable materials. It is better you pour out the excess juice and rinse it before putting it in the juice cartons in the recycling bin.

How Soon Can We Switch To Biodegradable Juice Cartons?

No one specifically knows how soon this would be. It is still being subjected to different durability tests.


The importance of recycling a juice carton cannot be overemphasized. In a world that is in great need of recycling waste because of the various environmental hazards and dangers, recycling remains important. Juice cartons offer themselves as a readily available recyclable material. We should all grab this opportunity and recycle the juice cartons.

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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.