UK recycling

Your main products are sold in tetra paks which are not recycled from UK domestic waste by most councils. Could you considered teaming up with the major super markets to get Tetra pak recycling widely available at stores? For example my local Sainsbury's super store have a big bank of recycling bins for all sort of things but not for Tetra paks. A comparable scheme would be Walkers crisp teaming up with Terra cycle to get more of their packaging recycled but it requires the consumer to post the packages to Terra and I gather is not really taking off.
Ruth Thomlinson Report inappropriate content


  • Hey Ruth! As a sustainability company being able to recycle packaging is really important to us and it's one of the reasons we use Tetra Pak as it's recycled by approx 90% of local authorities in the UK. We're trying to gather information on which councils aren't able to recycle our cartons so would be really helpful if you could let me know which borough you live in? Love, Oatly
  • Hi Rebecca,
    I am surprised, but pleased, that's lots more than I realised.
    My current local council is Newham, and my previous council was Tendring, and neither take Tetra paks in curbside collection.
    Ruth Thomlinson
  • Hi there Rebecca,
    I literally came online to ask the same question! Our area is Nottinghamshire and there's no curbside tetra recycling here. There are recycling points you can visit but at the moment I'm using online delivery as I have no form of transportation and don't want to use public transport at the moment.
    Kind Regards
  • I don’t know if you’ve changed packaging but my Oatly cartons say Italpack. Is this another form of Tetra Pak? I can’t find anything on the website about where to recycle Italpack. Please help! Thanks
  • Ruth makes a good point, I’d love to be able to recycle Tetra Pak cartons more easily! I live in Portsmouth and can only recycle cartons at one supermarket several miles from my house - kerbside recycling isn’t an option and it makes me really sad!

  • Love your products but your UK cartons state that you can “Recycle the packaging as paper carton and the cap as plastic”.
    surely this is misleading and I know several people who have taken this to mean they can be included in kerbside paper/card collections. Perhaps the packaging inUK should emphasise it is Tetrapak and had to be taken to recycling centres for disposal.
    Diana N
  • Hi Rebecca
    I'm surprised you say tetrapak is recycled by 90% of the local authorities in the UK. Would you be able to share your data with me? I'd really like to get my local authority to recycle tetrapaks - it currently says it's too complex and/or expensive whenever I contact it.
    So the county of Hampshire - which includes the large cities of Southampton, Portsmouth and Winchester - recycles no tetrapaks at all. How could you help the local Hampshire residents who seem to love Oatly particularly be more eco?
    I think the suggestion above is a really good one and I'm sure Waitrose would be happy to sign up if you approached them.
    Natasha Kirwan
  • Hi Oatly
    Listened to you on BBC Farming Today yesterday. You said in the interview that one of the reasons for not buying dairy milk is that we are in a 'climate emergency' and yet your product here in the UK is made in Sweden using packaging made in Norway and then is exported to us. Furthermore, you are exporting the product across the world. Surely your business activities are as much a contributing factor to the climate emergency as the dairy industry.
    Anthony Goodger
  • Recycling by local authorities is simply outsourcing the waste problem caused by your packaging to the local purse. As responsible producer you should provide a recycling service at your own cost which can ultimately be passed on to the consumer anyway.

    Tetra Pak cartoons are also difficult to recycle and single use so not sustainable long term.  What is your long term strategy for packaging?

  • We can't recycle them in Eastleigh, Hampshire
    Sarah Routledge
  • I live in Lewes District Council area and they don't accept Tetra packs in our household recycling. Your Oatgurt says recycle the pot as a paper carton. Is that mean as ordinary paper and cardboard in our household recycling, which doesn't accept Tetra packs?
  • Rebecca,
    I agree with Ruth, but where does the figure of 90% of councils come from. In my experience you are way wrong in that assumption.

  • Hi, my local authority is Copeland Borough Council and they do not recycle tetra paks at the kerbside or at any of their household waste recycling facilities. Since starting to buy Oatly late last year I have been collecting the tetra paks and have many many of them, I can't bring myself to put them in the bin. In contrast, my local cows milk comes in reusable glass bottles. I would prefer to drink Oatly only, but due to the waste produced by your product my family drinks a combination of Oatly and locally produced cows milk. Do you have any suggestions on what I can do with your packaging?
    A brief Google on 'recycling' of tetra paks is also very negative; items being sent abroad, alot of energy used to separate the plastic from the cardboard, unsustainable wood sources ... have you considered another form of packaging?

  • I see my comments are not shown. Do you edit?
  • hi there,

    I had the same question as above - if your carton can be recycled as you say, it does not have a recycling symbol on it, which i thought was standard and required if it is recyclable. Why do you not have the recycling symbol on?

    Anyway - with or without symbol - I also can't recycle cartons/tetrapaks in my local area - epsom and ewell in surrey. this is the reason the council gives on its website:

    Why can't cartons be recycled now?
    We regret that the processors who deal with our mixed recycling have told us that it is no longer practical or economically viable for them to separate cartons as a material stream from our kerbside collections

    for a company apparently so wishing to be clean and positive as yours - I find this single use aspect troubling!

    are you sure your stats are right and will you consider further action? I will put be off buying if the packaging has to go to landfill!
  • For example, Glasgow does not recycle TetraPaks unless you take it separately to the recycling centre and put it in a special TetraPak bin. Here is the info:

    We go through cca 20L of oatmilk per week due to being a large household, and this is a huge issue for us. Better packaging would be immensely appreciated.
  • How do you know it is approx 90% of local authorities in the UK? (Source?) Especially if you are also trying, at the same time, to father which councils are not able to recycle. For example, in Kent, only 8 out of 13 local authorities collect at kerbside OR offer somewhere to collect, which is only 61.5%.  The rest you have to put in landfill, or go to an alternative local authority which has a recycling centre.
    Keen to know your thoughts!
  • Can you produce a list of the 90% of areas that do recycle your packaging?
  • Given the announcement of a UK-based Oatly factory, wouldn't this be a great opportunity to change to reusable glass bottles? I would definitely buy more oat milk if I knew there was a bottle return scheme. Zero waste concerns are very important to me.
    Jay Calderisi
  • Hey Jay!

    A UK factory it will certainly open more doors in terms of what we can do as a company. We're always looking at ways we can improve our overall sustainability and having a UK home will certainly cut those pesky transport miles.

    We like your suggestion, and it's not the first time we've heard it. The biggest climate impact of packaging comes from what the packaging is made from and as a company we have a target to reduce the climate impact of our packaging by 50% by 2029. Our focus will be on using renewable material (produced in a regenerative way, sustainable forestry) as this is the most effective way to reduce climate impact. Also, we want to ensure our packages are produced using energy from renewable sources (for paper mills, they use their bi-product for energy, bio-mass). As we don't make our own packaging, this is something we’re working on with our suppliers. However, it doesn't mean that we can't offer alternatives to our standard TetraPak cartons. For example, we'd love to be able to supply refill stations at some point.

    On the recycling aspect, a material is defined "recyclable" if infrastructure (sorting and collection) is in place and the material can be recycled in existing recycling technologies. Interestingly, the biggest climate impact lies in what it's made from, not if/how it is recycled. Of course, we hope that our cartons will be recycled. However, we also feel that we should take responsibility for ensuring the packaging is as sustainable as possible, starting at the design process rather than relying on the recycling capabilities of our different markets.

    The TetraPak website has lots of useful info and stats as well as a handy recycling map -

    Hopefully this info was helpful for some of the comments on this thread - feel free to hit us up with any other questions though! Love, Oatly
  • Hi Rebecca and others at Oatly
    It's great that you are opening a UK production facility and plan to use UK oats. However the packaging issue remains a huge problem as you can see from all the comments on here.
    Oatly seems to have its figures wrong about how easy it is to recycle Tetrapak cartons locally - or if it is possible at all.
    As a result, we are now moving away from Oatly to Minor Figures as we can refill our glass bottles in our local refill shop. We are also considering having oat milk delivered by Milk & More who sell it in glass bottles. We are not doing this because we don't like Oatly but because we moved to a plant-based milk for environmental reasons and the difficulty with recycling the cartons is a real sticking point for us.
    I have previously contacted Oatly about this, and about the possibility of Oatly milk being sold in larger cartons to reduce the waste - as a family of 5 we go through a lot of milk (and cartons if we have to buy it in 1L cartons only).
    Minor Figures are putting more and more refill stations in refill shops locally, and you are losing customers by not being more willing to engage in this conversation about recycling tetrapaks. Talking about how things are made and ignoring how we dispose of them just isn't good enough!
    Natasha Kirwan
  • One interesting snippet I have picked up recently:
    Products can be labelled recyclable if they can technically be recycled.
    However despite the labelling they may not be practically recyclable. 
    My local council tells me that there is simply no market that will take TetraPacks.
    This may account for the 90% claim versus the large number of contributors here saying their councils saying not recyclable.
    I see that despite a number of requests to advise the source of the 90% claim, no response has been provided.

  • Hey there!

    In our previous response you can see a link to TetraPak which is where you will find the statistical info on UK recycling of the material. Here it is again just in case -

    Thanks for all the feedback provided on this thread, it's super useful for us to hear from the UK community on what you'd like to see to help us move forward with new ideas.

    Love, Oatly

  • Dear Rebecca
    I feel Oatly is avoiding the issue on packaging and it's beginning to be irritating. You have - once again - directed us to the Tetra Pak website without providing any answers for the questions we have asked about where you got your 90% figure from. So here, once again, is the information I get when I put in my local authority and ask where I can recycle cartons:

    "Sorry, no carton recycling facilities in this area
    East Hampshire. Unfortunately there are currently no carton recycling facilities in this Local Authority area."

    I don't know if it's you personally that isn't listening, or Oatly generally. We're the people who bother to contact Oatly about packaging - I know lots of people locally who don't buy plant based milks because of the recycling issue, but they don't think there's any point contacting the brands to tell them. Sadly I'm beginning to agree.

    Maybe Oatly has just got too big to listen? Either way, it's discouraging.


    Natasha Kirwan
  • Hey Natasha!

    On TetraPak's website you will see the following statement, along with an interactive map to check TertaPak recycling in all UK boroughs -

    Tetra Pak® is working hard to ensure that more and more people are able to recycle their cartons in the UK. Over 90% of Local Authorities are now collecting cartons for recycling, and more than 65% of Local Authorities are helping people to recycle from their homes.

    To provide a little more context on Oatly... as you probably know we originated in Sweden, a country well-known for its incredible commitment to recycling and sustainability. When Oatly began and research into packaging was done TetraPak came out on top in terms of everything, really. Its production process was the most climate friendly, it was easily recyclable and it kept the drinks deliciously fresh whilst retaining the nutrition.

    As we've grown as a company and started selling in other markets we're starting to see disparities with recycling capabilities, the UK being the perfect example. It's nowhere near close to that of some EU countries which we find really sad. All Oatly sold in the UK is currently produced and packaged in Europe as this is where our factories live (roll on 2023 until the UK factory opens) therefore we still use TetraPak as using different packaging for different markets isn't something we currently have the capacity to do.

    We will soon have a sustainability team in the UK and we're hoping that this will help us be able to work on and develop projects to better serve our UK community in terms of packaging and recycling. For example, we really hope to offer refilling stations and larger containers to reduce packaging.

    We really are listening to all of the shout-outs about our cartons, it's simply that we can't change things overnight. They really don't go unnoticed and this is something we know we need (and want) to work on and improve as our loyal UK oat-punk following increases.

    Love, Oatly

  • I live in East Sussex (Rother District) and I have really tried to find a recycling point for TETRAPAK which does not involved getting in the car and driving miles... but it’s not good ! Nothing! I now AVOID buying ANYTHING PACKED IN TETRAPAK!
    Caroline Donegan
  • Hey Caroline!

    We totally understand how frustrating it is (and for all the others on this thread with similar stories). Out of interest, have your local authority given a reason as to why they don't offer this service? Love, Oatly
  • Our local authority has said it's too expensive...  (Hampshire County Council) - they have a terrible record on recycling, only the bare minimum is collected kerbside and there's nowhere to take anything else. They burn loads of waste.

    The only carton recycling I can find in anywhere near us in Hampshire is offered by a supermarket but it's a 35 mile round trip by car, not very environmental and pretty time consuming.
    Natasha Kirwan
  • Caroline Donegan
  • Can't Oatly use glass bottles? We get oat milk in glass bottles delivered regularly to our door-step by Milk and More. If they can do it, why can't Oatly?
  • I have already raised my concern, but to date have not received a reply.  
    Your packaging clearly states "Recycle the packaging as paper carton and the cap as plastic". Surely this is misleading and I know of a number of people who have gone on to place these packs with their paper and carton kerbside collections. Should this be changed to reflect that these packs can only be recycled at specialist Tetrapak recycling points, and not in household recycling collections?

    Diana N
  • Hey Neil!

    At Oatly we don't use glass as even though it tends to be easy to recycle, it’s very heavy to ship and is resource-intensive to produce which leads to a higher climate impact.
    As a company, we’re still focused on shifting towards renewable materials as much as possible. Unfortunately the packaging technology isn’t quite there yet, but we’re constantly screening the market to make sure we’re using the most sustainable packaging possible while keeping in mind the technical needs of our products.

  • Beverage Carton Recycling
    Change to recycling under new waste contract starting 29th June 2019
    Tetra Pak can no longer be recycled in this area so instead will be sent to Newhaven Energy Recover facility with the rest of our household waste.

    Recycling of cartons is often costly and inefficient. In general, Tetra Pak cartons are comprised of 6 layers of material (including 2 types of plastic) which need to be separated. While the paperboard fibres can be recycled into pulp and used to make household products such as paper towels and toilet paper, the remaining plastic and aluminium compound residue – called PolyAl – is not recyclable and has to be incinerated at facilities such as the Newhaven Energy Recovery Facility. Until such time that more efficient and economic methods of recycling cartons are available, we’re keen to preserve the quality of the recycling we’re collecting from residents.

    Good that they are keen to preserve the quality of the recycling! I am now helping them by NOT PURCHASING  anything packed in TETRAPAK !
    Caroline Donegan
  • Thanks for your message Diana and for the suggestion. With all the consistent feedback we're receiving from all the Oatly lovers out there in the UK we definitely have to think about improving our messaging and offering a better option for recycling our cartons.

    In the meantime, if you have any further ideas or suggestions then we always welcome them and equally we will promise to be as transparent as we can about this topic as well as provide any updates if and when they happen.

    Love, Oatly

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