This article was written by fifth grade students Manika D., Kaveeya J., Divita N., and Yuna O.
When we were in third grade, our teacher Ms. Williams introduced us to Tetra Paks. We had Mr. Prescott Gaylord (former sustainability director at Singapore American School) come in and teach us about Tetra Paks—what they’re made of, how we recycle them, and why we recycle them. We started the "The Tetra Pak Crew" when we were in third grade. Since then, few members have joined and moved away as well. Today as fifth graders, we still care about this cause. We are hoping to spread awareness through this article.
What is a Tetra Pak?
Tetra Pak is a Swedish company that manufactures packaging for beverages, ice cream, juice cartons, milk cartons, etc. You will find the Tetra Pak logo on these packages. Some may not have the logo, but you can still discard them in the bin. Tetra Paks can also be called used beverage cartons (UBC).
You might think that we can just toss Tetra Paks into plastic or paper recycling bins, but these cannot go into any of them because they are made out of various materials. They are 74 percent paper, 22 percent polyethylene, and 4 percent aluminum. When we figured this out, our solution was to have Tetra Pak bins just for Tetra Paks. You can find them in various locations campus-wide—third and fourth grade hallways, middle school cafeteria, and high school foyer.
Why do we recycle Tetra Paks?
There are many different consequences to not recycling Tetra Paks. One effect is that when you throw them away, it contributes to landfills. This doesn't help anyone because they release toxins which are bad for our bodies and the environment. Besides that, most countries like to burn their trash in dump yards.
"I remember when I lived in Bali, on my way to school, I saw people burning trash on the side of the road and/or in dump yards. Most countries do this on the roadsides, dump yards, and in factories. Burning the trash pollutes the air." —Manika D.
It may be hard to believe, but most trash ends up in the ocean. According to National Geographic, each year, about 18 billion pounds of trash enter the ocean. That’s a ton of trash. Some trash can lead to animal extinction. Animals can't tell what’s food and what’s not. If they eat the trash, they could choke on it and die, or it could pollute their systems. In fact, some trash and pollutants can end up in our bodies if we eat sea creatures that have accidentally consumed the trash we threw away—you get what you give.
When Tetra Paks are being recycled, all their components get separated and can be made into different items. For example, Tetra Pak bins are actually made out of Tetra Paks. Also, the 74 percent paper mentioned earlier can be recycled into pulp sheets, which are later made into different grades of paper and different paper products. Polyethylene and aluminum are also conserved. They can replace heavy concrete sheets for a roof or wood as walls, tables, doors, and even cabinets!
How do we recycle Tetra Paks?
There are only a few easy steps to flatten the cartons to make the recycling process easier:
Step 1: Flip
This is when you flip the top flaps of the carton.
Step 2: Flap
You do the same thing but to the bottom two flaps.
Step 3: Rinse
It is best that you rinse the carton.
Step 4: Flatten
You must flatten the carton.
Once all these steps are completed, you can pop it into one of the Tetra Pak bins.
Tetra Paks are very special, but most people don’t know that we can recycle them. Some people like to buy them at the cafeteria, some people bring them for snacks, and some use them to keep their beverage cool. Clearly, Tetra Paks fill a big hole in our lives, and we need to understand that it’s crucial to recycle them.
We hope this article has inspired you to help do something good for our world, even if it’s deciding not to just throw a juice carton away. We hope we can make a difference.
- elementary school
- fifth grade
- project based learning
- tetra paks