Tetra Paks

I love pumpkin stuff. Food, decorations, all of it.

My first pumpkin woe of the season is this coffee creamer. When I ordered it for curbside pickup, I thought it would be plastic. I’m high risk for COVID so we have all our groceries curbside pickup or delivery. The top part is plastic. However; as soon as the yellow part starts it turns into carton material.

Tetra Paks and cartons are a composite material. That means they are a mix of paper, plastic, and sometimes metal. The components are very difficult to separate out and few places in the US process them to recycle. Austin does not accept cartons for recycling in either the curbside carts or at the Recycle & Reuse Drop-off Center. Tetra Paks and cartons are used primarily to save money and space on shipping.

Photo from Austin Resource Recovery

Foods such as oatmeal tubes (unless clarified on the container), milk and non-dairy milk, egg replacement, creamer, coconut water, stock, soup, bone broths, etc. that come in containers that look like these, the containers should be trashed if they cannot be reused. There are some great DIY craft projects for oatmeal tubes online.

NOTE: I have seen some oatmeal tubes begin to carry the How2Recycle label that say they are 100% paper. If that is the case, then the tube may go in the curbside recycling cart. Separate the plastic lid from the cardboard before you throw it it. Remember to separate the lid from the container if they are different: plastic lid and cardboard tube or metal lid on glass jar. The sorting machines will not separate the materials if screwed together.

When purchasing these items, look for plastic and glass that are more easily recycled. Check with your local provider to determine which plastics they accept. In Austin, we accept all plastic types and colors regardless of number or color.

If you aren’t sure how to process something, check the Austin Recycles app or What Do I Do With?

Recycling Information can be found at:

City of Austin Residential Recycling / Apartment Dwellers Guide
City of New Braunfels Residential Recycling
City of Round Rock Residential Recycling / Recycling Center
City of San Marcos Residential Recycling / Apartment Dweller Quick Facts
Apartments should check with their provider/contractor or that provider/contractor(s) website(s) for instructions/restrictions.

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