Recycling Juice Boxes

Ever since September, when my son started taking juice boxes to school, he’s been bringing them home.  We’ve had a running argument that he should just throw them out, because they can’t be recycled and they were dripping on his papers.  Then one day my friend in Portland, Oregon mentioned that juice boxes can be put in her commingled recycling.  I wrote to the recycling coordinator for my DPW and it turns out we recycle juice boxes too!   Who knew?  Luckily the recycling coordinator knew! For the record, they are not mentioned on our recycling flier that we receive each year.

Updated: Unfortunately, most municipal recycling programs have stopped recycling juice boxes and tetrapaks and you should now throw them in the garbage 🙁

If you’re wondering if juice boxes can be recycled in your community, you could ask your Department of Public Works, or you can check – this link is to my local area, update it with your zip code for your information.  You need to search on “drink boxes” not “juice containers”  as that refers to the milk and juice larger containers that are recycled differently.

If you cannot recycle them,  people have started coming up with ideas for reusing including making ipod and iphone cases and container gardening.

I also stumbled upon an interesting article on about how juice boxes are made and their history.

My new goal is to get the word out through the schools that juice boxes are recyclable in our town.  Think about how much less waste would be produced from by our schools if they added recycling juice boxes to the list of things they do!

Happy Greening!

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  1. Nice post! I just found you on MBC. Following you now! You know, that is really interesting about being able to recycle juice boxes. I had no idea. I just use a SIGG container and have my son bring it home. But it’s nice to know that some communities recycle them. I’ll have to call and find out about our community! Please come visit my site sometime if you have a chance!

  2. Juice box as Ipod container? Interesting.

  3. Sarah Newton says

    Hello: In fact, juice boxes are only ‘recycled’ if you consider burning them for electricity. That is the best case scenario. Juice boxes are a complex construction of plastic, metal, and paper layers. The energy to separate and recycle the layers is more than the materials are worth. Furthermore, what products do you see that are mass produced that are made from recycled plastic? The odd Patagonia jacket and a few high end health food toothbrushes. Plastic will only be truly recycled when the price of petroleum is high enough to make it profitable. Some places in California are burying the plastic that they have collected by recycling methods, planning to truly recycle it when the price of oil reaches that threshold. I suggest kids should drink water from the tap, or a reusable stainless steel water bottle. Juice contains a lot of sugar, even the 100% fruit options. The best bet is to move away from the paradigm of recycling and move toward reduce and reuse. Schools should be banning any disposable containers for food, period. This would reduce waste and promote healthier, less processed foods.

    • Sarah, thank you for the comment. In our area of New England, they recycle the juice boxes by shredding them and extracting the paper fibers and other materials. Different regions have different capabilities to recycle materials. We totally agree that sending kids with water is much better. For our three, they take reusable water bottles to school and camp everyday. The juice boxes are used only as an occasional treat. We can also recycle other tetrapak items in the same manner as juice boxes, which is great because they are a much healthier way of packaging soups and broth than the BPA lined cans. We are working on a program in our school to promote reusable containers and increasing recycling. Thanks!

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