Beverage carton

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Beverage carton from SIG Combibloc
Spanish bulk wine in a beverage carton
Fruit juices packed in cardboard boxes

A beverage carton - technically correct composite beverage carton - is a one-way packaging made of composite materials for beverages and liquid food . It consists of plastic laminated cardboard , which is coated on the inside depending on the purpose. Here comes polyethylene , aluminum or EVOH used. The cardboard gives the composite shape and stability. The inner coating and - if present - the aluminum intermediate layer protect the contents . The outer coating protects the carton from getting wet and increases the barrier properties of the composite.


As early as 1915, John van Wormer patented a beverage carton in the USA, and in 1930 milk was already being filled into cartons. Also in 1930 Günter Meyer-Jagenberg had his Perga packaging patented as a “watertight paper vessel with a folding closure and device for its manufacture” and should not be the first patent on a gable top box.

Later, the opening concept of the beverage cartons was improved from "gables" to be cut off to plastic screw caps. Until then, opening the gables was awkward and created potentially unsanitary and dripping drains. It is assumed that this will improve consumer acceptance for the beverage carton.

Comparison with other beverage packaging

The beverage carton has the following advantages and disadvantages in competition with other packaging:


  • The beverage carton is impermeable to light and oxygen (if with aluminum foil). This will slow down the destruction of certain vitamins.
  • It's lighter than glass bottles.
  • Beverage cartons take up less volume compared to bottles that are stacked in crates .
  • Compared to tubular packaging ( e.g. for milk) and foil bags (example: Capri-Sun ), it can be stacked on pallets without any additional outer packaging.


environmental Protection

The ecological effects of beverage cartons are discussed controversially and have been evaluated differently over the past few years.

On the one hand, beverage cartons can be recycled or reused using various processes and represent an alternative to the conventional returnable bottles made of glass or disposable PET bottles . In contrast to these, an empty beverage carton when folded takes up less space and weighs significantly less than that required for transport Energy decreased. In 2015, the Federal Environment Agency participated in a research project that was supported by an advisory group in which almost all relevant players from the economic environment of beverages and beverage packaging (packaging and material producers, fillers and retailers as well as disposal) as well as various NGOs and representatives of science were represented to draw up a large number of life cycle assessments for beverage packaging, from which it emerges, among other things, that no comprehensive ecological advantage or disadvantage can be identified between the use of reusable glass bottles and one-way beverage cartons.

Construction of a package of the Tetra Pak Aseptic brand

According to the Federal Environment Agency, 137,300 t of used beverage cartons were recycled from the collections of the Dual System Deutschland in 2013, which corresponds to a rate of 77.5%. The majority was recycled in two German paper mills: In Kreuzau near Düren there is a plant from the Niederauer Mühle paper mill, and another recycling plant is located in Raubling near Rosenheim. During recycling, the paper parts or the cellulose fibers (approx. 75%) are extracted after a washing process. The aluminum connected to the polyethylene layer (approx. 25%) is used in waste incineration plants and cement works. In the chemical park to 2020 a recycling plant for the processing of composite materials produced. The Packaging Ordinance (Germany) stipulates that composite packaging, and thus also beverage cartons, be recycled. However, due to the fact that recycling is viewed as difficult by environmental associations, some people also call for composite packaging to be avoided when shopping.

In spring 2010, the German Environmental Aid called for a reassessment of the beverage cartons that were sold. Due to a lower proportion of pulp and a low recycling rate (35% according to calculations by Umwelthilfe), the earlier classification as "ecologically beneficial" is very questionable. The Association of Cardboard Packaging for Liquid Food e. V. contradicted these calculations.

There are various methods of breaking down beverage cartons into their component parts. The simplest process here is a washing process in which, in addition to the paper, the film and, if necessary, the aluminum can also be separated. The plasma separation advertised in Brazil does not play a role in Europe. The polyethylene lids can also be recycled.


In order to create structures for efficient recycling of beverage cartons in Switzerland, the manufacturers Tetra Pak , SIG Combibloc and ELOPAK founded the beverage carton recycling association Switzerland. The discounter Aldi Suisse has gradually introduced a collection for beverage cartons since summer 2016. The Model Holding operates a recycling plant in the Weinfelden paper factory and could process more than the entire amount of beverage cartons in Switzerland. However, the major Swiss distributors (with the exception of Aldi Suisse) have not yet been convinced by the system and have not yet set up recycling boxes for beverage cartons. Therefore, Aldi Suisse discontinued the collection at the end of June 2019.


According to a study by GVM, Society for Packaging Research, commissioned by the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) in 2018, the following amounts were used in the recycling of beverage cartons:

in 1000 t 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Incidental packaging waste 191.9 185.3 177.1 178.9 174.4 180.7
Total recycling 135.3 131.6 137.3 135.6 130.4 138.8
of which in Germany 135.3 131.6 137.0 135.5 130.2 128.9
of which abroad 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.1 0.1 9.9
Energy recovery overall 53.3 51.5 39.2 42.3 43.0 40.8
Total amount of recovery 188.7 183.1 176.5 177.9 173.4 179.7
of which in Germany 188.7 183.1 176.2 177.8 173.2 169.8
of which abroad 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.1 0.1 9.9
Waste co-incineration 2.1 1.4 0.4 0.6 0.6 0.7
Recovery u. Co-incineration 190.7 184.5 176.9 178.6 174.0 180.3
of which in Germany 190.7 184.5 176.6 178.5 173.9 170.4
of which abroad 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.1 0.1 9.9
Rest (also landfill) 1.2 0.8 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.4
in % 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Incidental packaging waste 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
Total recycling 70.5 71.0 77.5 75.8 74.8 76.8
of which in Germany 70.5 71.0 77.4 75.7 74.7 71.4
of which abroad 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.1 0.1 5.5
Energy recovery overall 27.8 27.8 22.1 23.7 24.7 22.6
Total amount of recovery 98.3 98.8 99.6 99.5 99.4 99.4
of which in Germany 98.3 98.8 99.5 99.4 99.3 93.9
of which abroad 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.1 0.1 5.5
Waste co-incineration 1.1 0.8 0.2 0.4 0.4 0.4
Recovery u. Co-incineration 99.4 99.6 99.9 99.8 99.8 99.8
of which in Germany 99.4 99.6 99.7 99.8 99.7 94.3
of which abroad 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.1 0.1 5.5
Rest (also landfill) 0.6 0.4 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.2

For example, the following products can be manufactured from this: Corrugated cardboard , Tectan .


Well-known manufacturers for beverage cartons are

See also


  1. BV-Glas statement on the FKN study "LCA comparison of composite beverage cartons with non-returnable PET and returnable glass bottles in the juice / nectar, long-life milk and fresh milk beverage segments"., July 30, 2019, accessed on July 1, 2020 .
  2. Wax Milk Containers
  3. SIG company history
  4. Darena Schymanski, Christophe Goldbeck, Hans-Ulrich Humpf, Peter Fürst: Analysis of microplastics in water by micro-Raman spectroscopy: Release of plastic particles from different packaging into mineral water . In: Water Research . tape 129 , 2018, p. 154–162 , doi : 10.1016 / j.watres.2017.11.011 .
  5. ^ Andreas Detzel, Benedikt Kauertz, ifeu - Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, Heidelberg; Prof. Dr. Birgit Grahl, INTEGRAHL Industrial Ecology, Heidekamp; Jürgen Heinisch, Society for Packaging Market Research, Mainz: Review and update of the life cycle assessments for beverage packaging. (PDF; 9.27 MB) Federal Environment Agency , 2015, p. 83 , accessed on June 18, 2019 .
  6. TEXTS 101/2015. Environmental research plan of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety: Generation and recycling of packaging waste in Germany in 2013 , p. 119 (PDF; 4.57 MB).
  7. Niederauer Mühle
  8. WGV Recycling GmbH
  10. reject Recycling Breaks Ground on Palurec In: , July 15, 2019 accessed on December 31 of 2019.
  11. Composite packaging , environmental dictionary, Catalysis Institute.
  12. Composite packaging , waste dictionary, AWM Munich.
  13. Deutsche Umwelthilfe: Ecologically beneficial? - The deposit privilege for beverage cartons must be checked .
  14. Beverage carton manufacturers reject allegations made by Deutsche Umwelthilfe .
  15. Alcoa recycling plant for aluminum cardboard packaging in Piracicaba (Brazil).
  16. ^ Beverage carton recycling Switzerland .
  17. New system makes beverage carton recycling possible. SRF on October 24, 2017, accessed on October 25, 2017.
  18. Recycling pioneer. St. Galler Tagblatt on November 2, 2017, accessed on November 13, 2017.
  19. Michael Bolzli: That's why Coop and Migros don't want to take back beverage cartons. In: . March 29, 2019, accessed April 15, 2019 .
  20. Oliver Fueter: Hardly any collection points - gloomy future for beverage carton recycling. In: . April 24, 2019. Retrieved April 28, 2019 .
  21. Kurt Schüler, GVM Gesellschaft für Verpackungsmarktforschung mbH: Volume and recovery of packaging waste in Germany in 2016. (PDF) Federal Environment Agency , 2018, pp. 129–130 , accessed on June 18, 2019 .
  22. a b c d e f Exclusively in Germany.
  23. a b Unless considered as material recycling .
  24. a b Unless already taken into account under energy recovery .

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