Nova Scotia



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What Happens to Recycled Milk Containers

Milk jugs are made from high-density polyethylene plastic (HDPE), which is one of the most versatile plastic resins and most valuable plastics for recycling. In Canada, there are several plastic recycling facilities that convert scrap used milk jugs back into usable plastic. 

The used jugs are baled and sent to the recycling facility where they are chipped and washed. The clean chipped plastic is then melted at high temperature and formed into pellets. The pellets are sold to plastic forming plants, which use the material to make non-food plastic products including such items as: 

  • plastic pipe

  • drainage tile

  • flower pots

  • plastic dimensional lumber used to build picnic tables, patio furniture or decks

  • non-food packaging such as plastic detergent bottles and lubricating oil pails

  • toys, cases and other formed plastic products

Here are 35 uses for Plastic Milk Jugs!

Milk cartons are made from ‘polycoat’ – lightweight, high-grade paperboard sandwiched between two thin layers of polyethylene film. The result is a strong, rigid container that effectively maintains the integrity of the product inside. 

Polycoat material can be converted into new material using a process known as hydrapulping. A hydrapulper is like an enormous blender, where a combination of heat, water and agitation break down the material to produce raw fibre, or pulp. The pulp is then used to make new paper products such as corrugated medium (the inner layer of corrugated cardboard), linerboard, household tissue products and even fine writing papers. The small amount of residual polyethylene can be screened off for use in other plastic and composite materials. 


On Monday May 20th, 2002, Farmer’s Dairy launched milk products in a new package from Tetra Pak called Tetra Top in Nova Scotia. This innovative package (a North American first) is available in 1 Litre, 500ml, 375ml, and 250ml sizes and offers consumers a package that is resealable, easy to pour, easy to hold, easy to open and is recyclable. 

The Tetra Top package consists of paperboard and polyethylene (see attached specification sheet) and can be recycled within the existing polycoat container stream. 

Tetra Top packages can be shipped through existing channels to paper mills currently recycling gable top packages and do not need to be separated from gable top packages or Tetra Top packages can be shipped with Tetra Pak aseptic cartons to paper mills recycling them. 

In Canada, Atlantic Packaging Products Ltd in Toronto, Ontario and Normapac in New Westminster, British Columbia recycle Tetra Pak aseptic cartons and they can also recycle Tetra Top packages. Currently, aseptic cartons from Nova Scotia are sent to Atlantic Packaging Products Ltd for recycling.


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