Boxes Have a Story to Share

There’s value in the boxes that are delivering your online purchases to your door.

The number of boxes at household
doorsteps is growing.

The rise in online shopping has led to concerns about packaging waste and recovery, but it shouldn’t. There’s value in those boxes.

Each year, a bigger share of shopping takes place online, with packages being delivered to consumers’ doorsteps. As these boxes begin to pile up in homes, people might wonder – what happens to all of those boxes? 

Should there be concern over packaging waste and recovery? The answer is no. The corrugated industry needs the fiber from those e-commerce boxes back to make new boxes. This means you can feel good about the box as long as you choose the recycling bin instead of the trash bin.

A used corrugated cardboard box is not WASTE, but rather a valuable RAW MATERIAL waiting to be made into another box.

Corrugated boxes are recovered more than any other packaging material, and that’s been true for decades. The recovery rate for old corrugated containers (OCC), which has hovered around 90 percent for the past seven years, bears testament to the corrugated industry’s long-standing commitment to recycling.  

In fact, it was a corrugated company that first established the universally-known chasing arrows recycling symbol.  In conjunction with the first Earth Day in 1970, Container Corporation of America (CCA) sponsored a contest to design a symbol to promote their products made from recycled materials. A student from the University of Southern California, Gary Anderson, submitted the winning entry that CCA modified and introduced to the world. 

The industry innovated again to help the cause of corrugated recovery in 1993 when member companies of the Fibre Box Association (FBA) collaborated to develop the “Corrugated Recycles” symbol. Adopted internationally three years later, the “Corrugated Recycles” symbol now appears on the bottom of a significant number of today’s corrugated boxes.  The symbol is a clear reminder that the package can and should be recycled. 

The development of these symbols coupled with other initiatives over the years has led to a corrugated recovery success story. In 1993, the recovery rate of OCC was 54 percent largely due to collection at grocery and department stores. These days recovery happens in many other places including the home. 

By recycling boxes received throughout the year, consumers are helping to make new and useful products.  In 2017, 54 percent of recovered OCC was used to make containerboard for new corrugated boxes. An additional 5 million tons went into other products such as boxboard and tissue while the remaining tons collected were exported for the manufacturing of products in other countries. 

Is There Still Value in Recycling? 

Recently, the value of recycling is being challenged.  With the revelation that most plastic packaging generated since the 1950’s is floating in our oceans and Chinese policy changes that greatly limit what can be exported there, the question is being asked, “is there still value in recycling?” 

For corrugated packaging the answer is yes. The corrugated industry needs the fiber back. 

Dynamics are changing, but recycling remains important to our industry.  We need both new and recycled fiber for a balanced system.  Once recyclables are collected and sorted, they are sent to mills to be broken back down into fibers.  These fibers are then used to make new containerboard and boxes.  On average, corrugated boxes contain 49 percent recycled content.  In this way, corrugated packaging is truly circular by nature. 

So, keep recycling every day and encourage others to do the same. Choose the recycling bin instead of the trash bin.  Remember to remove interior packaging materials such as air pillows and peanuts. Flatten dry, clean boxes and place them in the recycling bin.  Make recycling a regular practice and help the corrugated industry continue to make new boxes.

 

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Corrugated packaging is a sustainable and clean choice that provides value throughout the supply chain, protects products and increases sales.

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