This is a rise of 3% on the 2011 figure of 37%. The total recovery rate (comprising recycling and energy recovery) reached 69% across the EU.
Richard Hands, Chief Executive of ACE UK, which represents carton manufacturers Tetra Pak, Elopak and SIG Combibloc, said: "We very much welcome this latest rise in carton recycling rates across the EU, which shows things are moving the right direction. As recently as 2009 the recycling rate was just over 30%, so to hit 40% in 2012 is very encouraging."
"As an organisation, we and the members we represent, are committed to improving the opportunities for beverage carton recycling in the UK. Over 50% of local authorities now collect cartons at kerbside for recycling, and we are confident that the opening earlier this year of the UK's only dedicated carton recycling facility, a partnership between ACE UK and Sonoco Alcore, will provide a further boost to carton recycling rates", added Hands.
Beverage cartons are easily recycled using a simple pulping process, where the paperboard and non-fibre layers are separated and turned into new materials. The wood fibres can be used to produce new high-strength paper products, such as cores and tubes for consumer and industrial applications, while the polymer and foil layers can be recycled or used for energy recovery.
ACE UK has a dedicated recycling team which offers advice and support to local authorities and community recycling networks wishing to collect cartons. An interactive map on the ACE UK website (http://ace-uk.co.uk/recycling/where-can-i-recycle) also helps residents find out where and how they can recycle beverage cartons in their area.