How we know so much about juice boxes
"So how about 300 years before it disintegrates?"
Almost all juice boxes contain three to six layers of paper, plastic, and aluminum (it's a composite). The paper makes up 75% of the packaging, and provides stiffness, strength, and the efficient brick shape. Polyethylene plastic makes up 20% of the packaging. It seals the inside and outside of the box to keep the liquid inside. A thin layer of aluminum (5%) is the silver material you can see inside the box. It blocks the juice from being exposed to light and oxygen. This is why juice boxes do not need to be refrigerated. This packaging allows people to drink the juice long after it was packaged.
This kind of composite packaging takes a long time to disintegrate, since it is made of three to six kinds materials squished together. That means you have to wait for the longest-living part (the plastic layers) to break down before the juice box will decompose. Scientific estimates of the length of time it takes for plastics to erode vary from thousands to one million years. 300 years is actually a conservative estimate.
Although difficult, it is possible to recycle some juice boxes. There are special "hydro-pulping" machines that can mash the boxes up into paper pulp, separate out the plastic and aluminum, and turn it all into lower-quality products, like toilet paper or plastic pellets. However, not many American cities have hydro-pulping machines, so in most places, you can't recycle a juice box even if you want to. Many of the cities that do accept juice boxes for recycling don't have these machines, so they ship the juice boxes to South Korea to be hydro-pulped. This shipping requires using additional resources, such as gasoline.
Check out these Web sites. (That's how we learned all of this!):
"Should it be made of ONE material, or a high-tech composite of three materials fused into a sleek, six-layered state-of-the-art device for weather resistance and easy-gripping?"
"And an oxygen-free interior, rendered impervious to both heat and light?"
Almost all juice boxes are made of composite packaging, which means they are made of multiple materials layered or smashed together. Juice boxes usually contain three to six layers of paper, plastic, and aluminum. The paper makes up 75% of the packaging, and provides stiffness, strength, and the efficient brick shape. Polyethylene plastic makes up 20% of the juice box. It seals the inside and outside of the box to keep it liquid-tight. A thin layer of aluminum (5%)-the silver material you can see inside-blocks the juice from being exposed to light and air, so that juice boxes do not need to be refrigerated. This makes it possible for juice boxes for people to drink the juice long after it has been packaged...But they are very hard to recycle.
Check out this Web site. (That's how we learned all of this!):
"Four billion juice boxes are thrown out every year, so in 300 years that makes... 1.2 trillion."