Choose Corrugated for the Planet

Responsibly managed corrugated packaging is good for the planet –
plastic packaging not so much.

Last June’s cover of National Geographic magazine is getting a lot of attention. With a gripping image and a chilling question, “Planet or Plastic?” The tip of the iceberg is a plastic bag that represents the 18 billion pounds of plastic that ends up in the ocean each year. The issue was mailed in a new paper shipper instead of the usual plastic wrap. Inside, the cover story says more than 40 percent of plastic is used once and the largest market for plastics today is packaging materials.

In the shadow of the spotlight cast on plastics are other packaging materials including corrugated. As policy-makers, companies and consumers begin to make changes to choose planet over plastics, it’s important that our industry provides information that allows decisionmakers to feel good about choosing corrugated packaging.

Different than plastics, corrugated packaging has a tremendous end-of-life success story. The recovery rate for old corrugated containers (OCC) has hovered near 90 percent for the past seven years making corrugated the most recycled packaging material in the US.

Made from a renewable resource, reusable and recyclable corrugated packaging comes full circle every day. From efficient use of managed forest lands to sustainable practices during board and box manufacture to high recovery rates that put fiber back into our system, corrugated packaging is truly circular by nature.

Each employee of the corrugated industry is an ambassador for the story of our products and below are some tools to help you tell it repeatedly: 

A growing number of campaigns to ban plastic waste are putting pressure on companies to find alternatives – not just for straws, but for all kinds of plastic packaging. An overwhelming amount of the plastic produced throughout the world goes unrecycled, and with China tightening its rules on the products it accepts, recycling companies are scrambling to find new markets for their reclaimed refuse. Companies from Apple to Walmart are making commitments to go plastic free and to find alternatives to single use plastics. 

To read more on unrecycled plastic and the growing plastic ban movement, see the following:


Fibre Box Association (FBA) recently released a new video, Corrugated Packages – Safely delivering goods to customers worldwide, about the box’s journey which starts in a sustainably-managed forest and, as long as the box is recycled, circles back to make even more boxes. contains several pages of information about the sustainability of corrugated packaging, but go direct to this page for a side-by-side comparison of corrugated vs. returnable plastic containers, including information on a completed comparative life cycle assessment.

The industry Twitter feed @corrugatedpkg is a timely source of information on recycling corrugated. Plus, if you want the latest buzz on the conversation surrounding plastics, follow us. Retweet facts and images.

Since its introduction in 1993, the Corrugated Recycles symbol has appeared on the bottom of most boxes produced in the US. Are you printing the symbol on the bottom of your boxes as a reminder to consumers to choose the recycling bin instead of the trash can? Information about the symbol can be found here.

Responsibly managed corrugated packaging is good for the planet

Corrugated is 100% Renewable and Recyclable*

*Recyclable unless treated with wet strength, coated or impregnated with petroleum-based wax.