These can also be used to package perishables for long-term use

With summer fast approaching, most households are stocking up fruit juices. These juices, like a number of other products that require long-term storage, are packed in cartons that are made up of multiple layers. Most of us use these cartons in our daily lives, and once we are done with them, we throw them and contribute to the landfill.

Unlike regular cardboard boxes, these packaging cartons have a layer of aluminium and a layer of plastic that cannot be easily separated from the cardboard and so it is very difficult to recycle them. However, their use has become popular in recent times to package perishable foods for long-term use, but unfortunately most recycling units are not ready to accept them since it is not cost-effective to recycle them, Environment Engineer of the Puducherry Pollution Control Committee N. Ramesh says.

Lengthy procedure

In order to recycle one carton, the unit will have to separate them into the plastic layer, the cardboard layer and the layers of plastics before they can be processed.

This is a very lengthy procedure and so many people are exploring options for recycling this kind of packaging, he says.

Now, Marc from Auroville has come up with a kind of ‘Do it Yourself’ method to reuse and recycle these cartons to make furniture and even partition walls that are not only environment-friendly, but are also strong.

“This method is simple enough that even children can do it as a kind of summer project, and the furniture that is built from this will last quite a long time. It is even strong enough to allow people to jump on it,” Marc explains.

The process is simple. He takes two large cartons and cuts off the ends. He then places one inside the other to make a kind of ‘brick.’

“These bricks are very strong when placed vertically, but the sides cannot bear as much weight,” he says.

With this basic building block, he takes a frame made of packaging wood or some other kind of material and glues a number of these cartons to the frame to form a block.

These blocks are then joined together to form the basic structure of the chair or stool or even a partition wall.

“The idea came to me when I was playing with a couple of juice cartons. The important thing to remember is to ensure that the air is trapped inside. It is the air that provides the stability and strength,” he says.

Now, the new community in Auroville, Sacred Grove will be using furniture and inside walls made of cartons, he says.

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