FSEA Releases Study on the Recycling of Fiber-Based Materials with Transfer Metallic Decoration

The Foil & Specialty Effects Association (FSEA) has announced the release of a new report detailing the results from a newly completed study on the recycling of fiber-based materials with transfer metallic decoration. The new study now available through FSEA has taken a further step to test transfer metallic decorated fiber-based materials and how the materials are sorted by Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) throughout the U.S. and North America. Through extensive testing at the Van Dyk Technology Center, the study demonstrates that fiber-based transfer metallic decorated materials are recyclable and are currently being sorted by Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) to be included in the recycling stream.

Read more and request a copy of the new study at FSEA.com

 

From Plastic to Paper: The Eco-Conscious Evolution of North American Packaging Trends

In recent years, there has been a significant shift in the packaging industry. First in the UK and Europe, and now US and Canadian brands are moving towards paper-based packaging solutions. This transition reflects a growing corporate commitment to environmental sustainability, increased regulations and penalties for using plastic, and a desire to meet consumer demand for packaging that is both sustainable and easier to recycle, knowing it is not going into landfills.

All of these motivators drive a growing movement to support a more circular economy, which is one based on the reuse and regeneration of materials or products, especially as a means of sustainably continuing production.

Environmental Consciousness Drives Change

One of the primary reasons behind the shift towards paper-based packaging is a heightened awareness of environmental issues, particularly the impact of plastic pollution on the planet. While plastic packaging is convenient and versatile, it poses significant environmental challenges. Plastic is made from non-renewable petroleum-based materials – it is non-biodegradable, contributes to litter and marine pollution, is difficult to recycle and is harmful to humans and wildlife.

Paper-based packaging offers several environmental benefits, making it an attractive alternative to plastic. Unlike plastic, paper is renewable, biodegradable, and recyclable, making it a more sustainable option from a lifecycle perspective. Additionally, advancements in paper packaging technology have led to the development of innovative products that offer the same functionality and protection as traditional plastic packaging, further driving the adoption of paper-based materials.

Consumer Preferences Lead the Way

Consumer preferences play a crucial role in shaping the packaging choices made by brands. Surveys have consistently shown that most consumers prefer paper-based packaging over plastic for its perceived environmental benefits. This shift in consumer sentiment has prompted brands to reevaluate their packaging strategies and prioritize materials that are perceived as more eco-friendly. Additionally, market trends indicate a significant increase in demand for paper-based packaging, driven by concerns about plastic pollution and a desire for more sustainable alternatives.

A survey commissioned by Two Sides North America revealed that 55% of US consumers would buy more from brands and retailers who remove plastic from their packaging, up from 49% in 2021. Half said they are actively taking steps to increase their use of paper packaging, up from 41% over the past two years, and 47% said they would consider avoiding a retailer that is not actively trying to reduce their use of non-recyclable packaging, up from 39% in 2021. In addition, disposal decision fatigue is real–consumers preferred paper/cardboard packaging for being home-compostable (59%) and easier to recycle (43%).

Corporate sustainability goals driven by consumer demand are a primary motivator in the shift from plastic to paper. Wayne Towle, sales manager at fiber-packaging supplier Planet Paper Box Group, recently told Packaging Digest, “All the major players in all the major CPG companies have some form of sustainability goals factored into their business model. It is becoming more of a necessity for companies to do that.”

Government Regulations Hasten Shift

Recent data from pulp and paper business intelligence company Fisher International cites several market factors driving the switch to paper packaging, including legislation in the U.S., Canada, and across the globe.

“Certain single-use plastics (e.g., drinking straws, coffee stirrers, plastic bottles, plates, cups, utensils, shopping bags) have been identified as leading contributors to plastic pollution and are the target of most legislation.”

Twenty-three states in the US have some form of plastic bag legislation, and several cities have banned plastic straws. In Canada, the Single-Use Plastics Prohibition Regulations (SUPPR) were introduced as a larger comprehensive plan to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Big Brands Make the Switch

Several brands based or prominent in North America have embraced paper-based packaging as part of their commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship. These include L’Oreal, Zappos, Pringles, Absolute, Apple, Nestle, Samsung, and Amazon. Although these are U.S.-based business giants, packaging innovation has often been initiated in Europe due to stricter penalties and regulations around plastic-based packaging. But North American roll-outs have picked up steam.

Iconic fast-food chain McDonald’s announced plans to phase in more sustainable, recycled, and recyclable alternatives to their current packaging, including paper-based materials. According to the company, which serves 69 million people worldwide each year, McDonald’s has set a goal of sourcing 100% of its primary guest packaging from renewable, recycled, or certified sources and expanding the reduction and recycling of guest packaging by the end of 2025.

An Amazon facility in Ohio uses machine learning to customize box sizes to eliminate plastic packaging fillers. The research was launched in Washington State’s Amazon innovation center, and upgrades will roll out in North America this year. Technology like this could skyrocket the use of paper and cardboard packaging across industries.

Paper Fits the Bill

In so many ways, paper has become the ideal packaging material, offering businesses, manufacturers and consumers a simplified experience that cuts cost and time and is naturally sustainable.

Consumer preference. Consumers prefer goods packaged in materials that are easy to recycle or safe to compost. They don’t want the inconvenience of stripping off labels or driving to a retail store to recycle plastic bags and clamshell containers.

Circular economy. Paper is a bedrock of a circular economy as it promotes the reuse and regeneration of packaging. Paper can be recycled five to seven times, on average, before fibers become unusable. Paper is biodegradable and compostable. In fact, clean cardboard adds valuable dry materials to the composting process.

Sustainable forestry. The US paper industry promotes sustainable forestry and depends on sustainable forest growth to provide a reliable wood fiber supply. By providing a dependable market for responsibly grown fiber, the paper industry encourages landowners to continue managing their forestland instead of selling it for development or other non-forest uses. In the United States, we grow more trees than we harvest, and US forests are a renewable natural resource and are not shrinking. Net forest area in the United States increased by approximately 18 million acres between 1990 and 2020 – an area equivalent to approximately 1,200 NFL football fields every day.

In Canada, all areas harvested on public land must be reforested through replanting or natural regeneration, and about 90% of Canada’s forests are on public land. Canada leads the world in third-party sustainable forest certification.

Energy consumption. According to the American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA), purchased energy is the third highest operating cost for the paper and wood products industry, motivating the industry to increase energy efficiency and use less energy overall. In 2020, AF&PA member pulp and paper mills self-generated 58% of the electricity needed to power their mills. They surpassed their collective goal for energy efficiency by reducing purchased energy by more than 13% between 2005 and 2020. Among the sustainability goals outlined in AF&PA’s Better Practices, Better Planet 2030, one is reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50%.

Similar efforts are being made in Canada to become more energy efficient. Most of the energy used at Canadian pulp and paper mills is generated using renewable, carbon-neutral biomass. Since the early 1990s, the Canadian forest sector has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 70%.

Choosing Paper

The shift towards paper-based packaging among US and Canadian brands reflects consumers, governments, and corporations’ broadening commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility. By choosing paper, these brands are not only meeting consumer demand for more eco-friendly products but also contributing to the preservation of the planet for future generations.

Cardboard Comes Out On Top

Consumer Preference and Industry Efforts Pave the Way for Corrugated Boxes

As consumers increasingly voice their environmental concerns, industries worldwide are actively seeking sustainable alternatives to reduce their carbon footprint. Not surprisingly, corrugated cardboard packaging has emerged as an environmentally sustainable choice, boasting benefits that other packaging materials simply can’t match. Reports and surveys, including a comprehensive life cycle assessment (LCA) recently published by the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement (NCASI) and the 2023 US Trend Tracker Survey commissioned by Two Sides North America, shed light on the environmental impact of cardboard packaging and illustrate why it is fast becoming the preferred choice of brands and consumers around the globe.

Published in October 2023, the 2020 Life Cycle Assessment of U.S. Average Corrugated Product found that the corrugated packaging industry has achieved substantial reductions in the environmental impacts of a typical corrugated cardboard box. 

Specifically, the LCA shows a 50% per unit reduction in greenhouse gas emissions between 2006 and 2020, tackling the most urgent and predominant causes of climate change. Meaningful reductions were also achieved in ozone depletion (13%), energy usage (13%), water usage (18%), acid rain (41%), smog (44%), respiratory effects (54%), and eutrophication, which leads to algae blooms and dead zones in bodies of water (30%).

The industry achieved this progress through energy improvements, the creation of a strong recycling infrastructure, sustainably managed forests, and a commitment to continuous environmental improvement. The industry continues to shift to cleaner burning fuel, has increased its participation in a greener U.S. electric grid, and made investments in energy efficiency. 

cardboard boxes

Raw Materials

Cardboard packaging is a standout choice in terms of raw material sustainability. Using wood fiber from purpose-grown, sustainably managed forests ensures that the extraction process is both responsible and renewable. The LCA reveals that sustainable forestry practices, when paired with efficient management, contribute to the overall favorable environmental profile of cardboard packaging.

The fresh wood fiber used to manufacture cardboard, which is continually renewed in sustainably managed forests, aids in the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, while recycling old corrugated cardboard avoids carbon dioxide and methane emissions from landfills. This combination of fresh and recycled fibers in cardboard production maximizes fiber reuse and enables circularity. 

Manufacturing Processes

Significant advances in manufacturing technology and processes have increased efficiency and decreased energy consumption in cardboard production, leading to reduced environmental impacts. In addition, the industry’s proactive approach to water recycling and conservation, along with the increased use of renewable energy, further reduces cardboard’s environmental footprint. 

Transportation and Distribution

Cardboard’s lightweight nature contributes to lower transportation costs and emissions compared to heavier packaging materials. Lighter weights translate into lower fuel consumption during transportation, thereby decreasing the overall carbon footprint. This is particularly crucial in a globalized economy where goods are transported over long distances.

End-of-Life Considerations

Cardboard’s recyclability is a critical factor in its circular life cycle, and the corrugated industry has enabled increasingly higher recycling rates with billions of dollars in voluntary infrastructure investment over the past 30 years.  According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, cardboard is the most recycled packaging material in the United States. The American Forest and Paper Association reports that the recycling rate for cardboard boxes was more than 93% in 2022.  

Consumer Trends and Attitudes: Insights from the 2023 US Trend Tracker Survey

In January 2023, Two Sides North America commissioned its biennial Trend Tracker Survey to better understand changing consumer preferences, perceptions and attitudes toward print, paper and paper-based packaging. The survey, conducted by international research firm Toluna,  showed a growing awareness among U.S. consumers about the environmental impacts of packaging materials and a preference for sustainable packaging. 

The survey findings reveal that consumers prefer products with paper or cardboard packaging for various reasons, including its ease of recycling and home composting. Half of consumers believe paper-based packaging is better for the environment than other types of packaging, including plastic, glass and metal. In addition to expressing an overall preference for paper-based packaging, 56% of consumers prefer that items ordered online be delivered in paper packaging, up from 52% in 2021. 50% say they are actively taking steps to increase their use of paper-based packaging, up from 41%. 47% would avoid shopping with a retailer that is not actively trying to reduce its use of non-recyclable packaging, up from 39%.

Environmental Misconceptions

Despite the expanding body of scientific evidence supporting the inherent sustainability of paper-based packaging and consumers’ efforts to make sustainable choices, many misconceptions about cardboard and its effects on the environment remain. You can help set the record straight by arming yourself with the facts. To learn more, visit www.twosidesna.org/mythsandfacts.

Paper vs. Plastic Packaging: Two Sides Responds to The Washington Times

The Washington Times recently featured an opinion piece by an advocate for the plastics industry that included multiple unsubstantiated environmental claims about paper-based packaging. Two Sides North America submitted the following letter to the editors in response.

To the editors:

Why is it that whenever someone wants to extoll the sustainability benefits of plastic packaging products, they feel compelled to claim that plastics have “a lower environmental impact” than paper-based packaging (America succumbs to plastic paranoia, September 26) instead of simply making a fact-based environmental case? Could it be because paper products are the gold standard for circularity and true sustainability?

In this case, the author makes gratuitous claims that plastic packaging “helps the planet” and “saves tens of millions of trees every year,” citing “real scientists” from Sweden and Denmark to back up his claims of plastic’s green superiority. In doing so, he invites comparisons that, of necessity, must also catalog the environmental consequences of plastic packaging, from the extraction of finite resources and energy use to the fate of final products.

To start with, the many different resins used to make plastics are derived from non-renewable fossil fuels, namely natural gas, feedstocks derived from natural gas processing, and feedstocks derived from crude oil refining (U.S. Energy Information Administration). And single-use plastics also are incredibly energy-intensive to produce. In fact, plastic production accounts for more than 3% of total U.S. energy consumption, using roughly the same amount of oil as the global aviation industry, which in turn generates significant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (U.S. Department of Energy).

And while Americans toss millions of tons of plastic packaging into their recycling bins, not much of it actually gets recycled. A recycling PR campaign recently launched by the plastics industry says that 6 billion pounds (3 million tons) of plastic get recycled each year, but that’s only about 9% of the total plastic produced annually in the U.S. according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  There are just too many different types of plastic, each with different recycling requirements, so they can’t be combined and recycled together. Building out the infrastructure to effectively collect, sort and recycle them poses extremely difficult logistical and economic challenges – challenges that are not likely to be met any time soon, if ever.

Given the finite resources and large amounts of fossil fuel energy used to produce them along with their low recycling rate, it’s a bit of a stretch to imply that plastics meet the generally accepted definition of circularity: industrial processes and economic activities that are 1) restorative or regenerative by design, 2) enable resources used to maintain their highest value for as long as possible, and 3) aim to eliminate waste through the superior design of materials, products and systems.

Paper-based packaging, on the other hand, has a demonstrably circular life cycle.

Paper-based packaging is manufactured using an infinitely renewable natural resource – trees that are purpose-grown, harvested and re-grown in sustainably managed forests. And it is manufactured in a process that uses mostly (64% on average in the U.S.) renewable bioenergy. This fact, combined with investments in energy efficiency and process improvements helped the U.S. paper industry reduce GHG emissions per ton of production by more than 24% since 2005. (American Forest and Paper Association, AF&PA). According to the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory, the pulp and paper industry is not a major contributor to climate change, contributing less than 0.6% of total U.S. CO2e emissions.

While all of these unique environmental characteristics make paper arguably one of the most sustainable products on earth, it’s the paper industry’s investment in recycling infrastructure that makes the paper life cycle truly circular. Over the past 30 years, the U.S. industry has voluntarily bankrolled billions of dollars in recycling infrastructure, including $7 billion in completed or announced investments between 2019 and 2025. Today, 94% of Americans have access to a community paper recycling program, and 79% have access to residential/curbside recycling programs, this according to a comprehensive national study commissioned by AF&PA in 2021.

Because paper recycling is accessible and easy, U.S. businesses and consumers have embraced it in a big way. With a recycling rate of 68% (~46 million tons annually), paper and paper-based packaging are the most recycled material in the U.S. municipal solid waste stream (EPA).  And that rate jumps to nearly 94% for cardboard packaging (AF&PA).

Kathi Rowzie, President

Two Sides North America

www.twosidesna.org

Survey Shows U.S. Consumers Believe Paper-based Packaging is Better for the Environment than Other Packaging Materials

DAYTON, Ohio, June 26, 2023 –  If you recently made a purchase online, you’re not alone. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that retail e-commerce sales topped $272 billion in the first quarter of 2023, up 7.8% from the same period last year. Along with this continuing growth in online purchases comes an increasing  awareness of the materials used to package and ship products, and the impact these materials have on the environment. A new survey commissioned by Two Sides North America and conducted by international research firm Toluna found that U.S. consumers believe paper-based packaging is better for the environment than other packaging materials.

Paper: The preferred and sustainable packaging choice

Survey respondents were asked to rank their preferred packaging material (paper/cardboard, plastic, glass and metal) based on 15 environmental, aesthetic and practical attributes. Overall, paper/cardboard packaging was preferred for 10 of the 15 attributes, including all environmental attributes, with half of respondents saying paper/cardboard is better for the environment than other types of packaging. Consumers also preferred paper/cardboard packaging for being home compostable (59%) and easier to recycle (43%).

Glass packaging was preferred by consumers for four practical and aesthetic attributes, including being reusable (39%), having a preferred look and feel (39%), providing a better image for the brand (38%) and better protection (35%). 45% preferred metal packaging for being strong and robust. Plastic packaging was not preferred for any of the 15 attributes, and only one in 10 respondents believes plastic packaging is better for the environment.

Consumers demand that brands and retailers do more

Brands and retailers play a crucial role in driving innovation and the use of recyclable packaging. In response to increasing consumer pressure to operate more sustainably, brands and retailers in many sectors, from wine, spirits and soft drinks to candy, cosmetics and apparel are shifting from plastic to paper packaging.

The survey found that 55% of consumers would buy more from brands and retailers who remove plastic from their packaging, up from 49% in 2021. 50% said they are actively taking steps to increase their use of paper packaging, up from 41% over the past two years. 47% said they would consider avoiding a retailer that is not actively trying to reduce their use of non-recyclable packaging, up from 39% in 2021.

“As the call for circular product life cycles grows louder, paper has always had a head start,” says Two Sides North America President Kathi Rowzie. “The paper industry’s longstanding and continuing investment in recycling infrastructure, support of community recycling programs and consumer education on what and how to recycle have transformed the circularity of paper-based packaging from vision to reality. At a time when there is growing alarm about the low recycled rates of other packaging materials, paper recycling is a striking exception.”

68% of paper and paper-based packaging in the United States gets recovered and recycled into new products, and that jumps to more than 91% for corrugated cardboard. In comparison, the U.S. Environmental Protection reports that plastics, glass and metals are recycled at just 9%, 25% and 34%, respectively.

The 2023 Two Sides Trend Tracker Survey queried 1,000 respondents over age 18 across the United States. It is the second of Two Sides’ biennial trend tracker studies designed to explore and better understand consumer perceptions, behaviors and preferences related to the sustainability of paper products.

 ###

Download the press release here.

About Two Sides North America

Two Sides North America (www.twosidesna.org) is part of the non-profit Two Sides global network which includes more than 600 member companies across North America, South America, Latin America, Europe, Australia and South Africa. Our mission is to dispel common environmental misconceptions and to inspire and inform businesses and consumers with engaging, factual information about the inherent environmental sustainability and enduring value of print, paper and paper-based packaging.

Media Contact:

Kathi Rowzie, President

Two Sides North America

P:  937-999-7729

E:  info@twosidesna.org

 

Can Paper Help Save the Planet?

The recent United Nations global climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, brought the world’s leaders together again to try to reach agreement on further commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. High on the agenda was preserving the health of the world’s forests – a critical natural resource for absorbing these emissions.

With this heightened international attention on preventing deforestation, primarily in the developing world, now is a good time to remind ourselves that the North American forests that supply the wood fiber for our paper and packaging products are among the most sustainably managed in the world.

They are so well-managed, in fact, that our forests continue to be a net absorber of carbon. In the United States, sustainable forest management practices, the regeneration of forest area and modern harvesting practices resulted in a net sequestration of carbon every year from 1990 to 2019, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) reports that U.S. forests annually capture and store 14% of economy-wide carbon dioxide emissions. Natural Resources Canada reports that forestlands capture and store around 19% of all carbon dioxide equivalents emitted in the country.

The production of wood and paper products is a powerful economic engine and driving force in keeping North American lands forested. By providing a dependable market for responsibly grown fiber, the paper industry encourages landowners to manage their forestland instead of selling it for development or other non-forest uses. More than half (58%) of the forestland in the U.S. is privately owned and managed, mostly by millions of small landowners, and they are under no obligation to keep their lands forested. Without the economic incentive provided by the forest products industry, untold millions of acres of forestland would likely have been lost permanently to commercial land development – converted to building projects, strip malls or parking lots.

For proof, look no further than countries where there is little economic incentive to keep lands forested. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Global Forest Resources Assessment, those areas of the world that consume the least amount of wood have the greatest problem with the kind of deforestation that the Glasgow conferees were trying to address.

Compare that with North America’s forest products industry. While they were producing the wood and paper products that enrich the lives of consumers, net forest area in the U.S. grew by some 18 million acres between 1990 and 2020, according to the UN FAO, and Canada’s forest area of 857 million acres has been stable over the same period. By law, every acre of Canadian forest that is commercially harvested must be regenerated.

In the U.S., the net average annual increase in growing stock on timberland is about 25 billion cubic feet, according to the USFS, and forests in the U.S. annually grow nearly twice as much wood as is harvested. USFS also reports that tree harvesting in the U.S. occurs on less than 2% of forestland per year in contrast to the nearly 3% disturbed annually by natural events like insects, disease, and fire, and most of this harvested wood is used for non-paper purposes. Harvesting in Canada occurs on only 0.2% of forestlands, while 4.7% is disturbed by insects and 0.5% is disturbed by fire, this according to Natural Resources Canada.

The Glasgow summit also kicked off a discussion of the inherent advantages of bio-based materials – like  paper and paper-based packaging– in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and their potential role in a more broad-based, circular bio-economy. The FAO released a report demonstrating how renewable wood-based products can help combat climate change and achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

According to Dr. E. Ashley Steel, Forest Statistics Expert at the UN FAO:

“There is strong evidence at the product level that wood products are associated with lower GHG emissions over their entire life cycle compared to products made from GHG-intensive and non-renewable materials. Wood and wood-based products are generally associated with lower fossil and process-based emissions when compared to non-wood products.”

The document left open for later study the extent to which paper and paper-based packaging may serve as substitutes for non-wood products in the search for those that contribute to the net reduction of greenhouse gases, but there’s little doubt that any product sourced from materials that are grown and regrown are better for combating climate change than the non-paper alternatives.

Paper-Based Packaging Is Preferred By Consumers

Paper-Based Packaging Is Preferred By Consumers

People look to product packaging to help them make decisions about what to buy. Perceptions of practicality, sustainability and quality all play a part.

When asked to rank their preferred packaging materials (paper and cardboard, glass, metal or plastic) based on 15 environmental, practical and visual/tactile attributes, U.S. consumers ranked paper and cardboard packaging highest on 11 of 15 attributes, with 66% saying paper and cardboard packaging are better for the environment.[1]

The increasing consumer consciousness regarding sustainable packaging, as well as the strict regulations imposed by various environmental protection agencies (regarding the use of environment-friendly packaging products) are the factors driving the market for paper packaging.
Mordor Intelligence, 2020

68% of U.S. grocery shoppers ages 18 to 65 years consider it important to choose foods and beverages that are packaged responsibly, and 71% agree that foods and beverages with healthier ingredients should use packaging materials that are healthier too. Paper and glass packaging are considered to have the least negative environmental impact and perceived to be the healthiest options.[2]

Consumers across the United States are willing to change their behavior to shop more sustainably. Nearly four in 10 (38%) are willing to spend more on a product if it is packaged using sustainable materials, and more than a third (36%) said they would consider avoiding a retailer who is not taking steps to reduce their use of non-recyclable plastic packaging.[1]

Most Americans agree that the design of a product’s packaging (72%) and the materials used to package a product (67%) often influence their purchase decisions when selecting which products to buy. For two thirds, paper and cardboard packaging makes a product more attractive than other packaging materials (67%), and a similar proportion agrees that paper and cardboard packaging make products seem premium or high quality (63%).[3]

When asked which types of shopping bags – cotton/canvas, paper, lightweight plastic, lightweight compostable plastic and heavyweight plastic – best fit a variety of attributes, U.S. consumers ranked paper shopping bags highest when it comes to the environment, favoring paper bags for being recyclable, compostable and made from renewable and recycled materials.[1]

Sources:

  1. Two Sides and Toluna, 2020
  2. EcoFocus, 2018
  3. Ipsos, 2018

Paper-Based Packaging Is Practical, Beneficial And Appealing

Paper-Based Packaging Is Practical, Beneficial And Appealing

Paper and cardboard are versatile and effective packaging materials, whether for storage or in transit, displayed in-store or used in the home.

Corrugated cardboard boxes are the backbone of the American supply chain. Some 38 billion packages are delivered safely in corrugated cardboard boxes each year. Corrugated packaging is frequently lightweight and can reduce shipping costs.[1]

Using materials that are not recyclable could cause a brand to be regarded as ‘wasteful,’ and customers may share their unboxing experience for the wrong reasons. In the reverse, using sustainable products will go a long way to helping a brand to cultivate an image of strong ethics and social responsibility.
BigCommerce, 2019

In recent years, unboxing has gone from being a seasonal pleasure, to an online fad, to a powerful e-commerce marketing tool.
BigCommerce, 2019

Most Americans (83%) agree that paper and cardboard packaging can be innovative. In fact, roughly seven in 10 feel that this type of packaging allows for more creative packaging designs than other packaging materials (75%) and that products packaged in paper or cardboard seem more artisanal or hand-crafted (69%).[2]

Corrugated cardboard can be cut and folded into an infinite variety of shapes and sizes and direct printed with high-resolution color graphics. Corrugated is custom designed to fit specific product protection, shelf space and shipping density requirements (including inner packaging that prevents shifting).[3]

With the rise of plastic pollution, countless brands are opting for a more sustainable branding solution when it comes to their products’ packaging. This is where paper comes in. The eco-friendly material is recyclable and lightweight, making it perfect for food, coffee or dessert products. In addition to its environmentally friendly qualities, paper packaging is also easy to customize when it comes to color, text or graphics.[4]

Sources:

  1. Fibre Box Association (FBA), 2020
  2. Ipsos, 2018
  3. FBA, 2019
  4. Trend Hunter, 2014

Paper-Based Packaging Helps Tackle Climate Change

Paper-Based Packaging Helps Tackle Climate Change

There are three ways to mitigate climate change: by avoiding greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, by storing GHGs (carbon) in forests and forest-based products, and by capturing GHGs from the atmosphere. The manufacture, use and recycling of paper-based packaging contributes to all three.

Sustainable forestry practices increase the ability of forests to capture and sequester atmospheric carbon while enhancing other ecosystem services, such as improved soil and water quality. Planting new trees and improving forest health through thinning and prescribed burning are some of the ways to increase forest carbon in the long run. Harvesting and regenerating forests can also result in net carbon sequestration in wood products and new forest growth.[1]

In the long term, a sustainable forest management strategy aimed at maintaining or increasing forest carbon stocks, while producing an annual sustained yield of timber, fiber or energy from the forest, will generate the largest sustained [climate change] mitigation benefit.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2018

The forest products industry plays an important role in contributing to the production of renewable energy and reducing dependence on fossil fuel by using residuals and byproducts (biomass) to produce much of the energy required for its operations. Because trees absorb CO2 when they grow, the international carbon accounting principle accepts that biomass is carbon neutral when combusted for energy.[2]

The carbon neutrality of biomass harvested from sustainably managed forests has been recognized repeatedly by an abundance of studies, national legislation and international policy, including the guidance of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the reporting protocols of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
International Council of Forest and Paper Association, 2020

The U.S. paper and forest products industry reduced carbon emissions by 23.3% between 2005 and 2018. The Canadian paper and forest products industry reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 38% between 2006 and 2016.[3, 4]

The recycling of paper-based packaging avoids greenhouse gas emissions that result when paper products are landfilled. At about 44.2 million tons, paper and paperboard recycling in the U.S. resulted in a reduction of about 148 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) in 2017. This reduction is equivalent to removing over 31 million cars from the road for one year.[5]

Nearly every piece of plastic begins as a fossil fuel, and greenhouse gases are emitted at each stage of the plastic lifecycle: 1) fossil fuel extraction and transport, 2) plastic refining and manufacture, 3) managing plastic waste, and 4) plastic’s ongoing impact once it reaches our oceans, waterways, and landscape.[6]

Sources:

  1. USDA Forest Service, 2020
  2. International Council of Forest and Paper Associations (ICFPA), 2020
  3. American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), 2020
  4. Natural Resources Canada, 2019
  5. US Environmental Protection Agency, 2020
  6. Center for International Environmental Law, 2019

Paper-Based Packaging Supports Healthy Forests In North America

Paper-Based Packaging Supports Healthy Forests In North America

Sustainable forest management protects one of earth’s most important resources and ensures the long-term ability of the global forest products industry to meet society’s growing needs.

The use of wood fiber from sustainably managed forests promotes responsible long-term forest growth, so successfully in fact, that U.S. forest area expanded an average of approximately 605,000 acres per year between 1990 and 2020.[1] Canada’s forested area has remained quite stable for the past 25 years at approximately 857 million acres.[2]

Demand for paper products means continued demand for trees, which encourages forest landowners to grow and replant to ensure a supply – even in places where there are no trees now.  Through sustainable forest management, tree farmers harvest and replant trees responsibly, taking into consideration wildlife, diversity of plant species and forests’ ability to create watersheds and sequester carbon.
American Forest and Paper Association, 2020

In 2019, 52% of the forest area in North America was certified to an independent, sustainable forest management standard (Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®), Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®), Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), the highest percentage of certified forestland anywhere in the world.[1]

The production of paper-based packaging does not result in deforestation. Deforestation is defined as the conversion of forest to other land use independently, whether human-induced or not. The term specifically excludes areas where trees have been removed as a result of harvesting or logging, and where the forest is expected to regenerate naturally or with the aid of silvicultural measures.[1]

As long as there is demand for forest products, the forest products industry and the landowners who supply the industry will have vested interests in maintaining productive and sustainable forests, as has clearly been the case over the last six decades.
Forest2Market, Inc., 2017

The biggest threat to forests in the U.S. is urbanization, but this threat can be mitigated by healthy markets for forest products, especially for products from highly productive working forests. Between 1982 and 2012, urban development was responsible for almost half (49.2% or 17.7 million acres) of all forestland that was converted to other uses in the United States.[3]

 The conversion of forest to agricultural land is decreasing but remains the largest contributor to deforestation in Canada. Harvesting, forest fires and insect infestations do not constitute deforestation since the affected areas will grow back. According to laws, regulations and policies in place across Canada, all areas harvested on public land must be reforested, either by replanting or through natural regeneration. About 94% of Canada’s forests are on public land.[4]

Sources:

  1. UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 2020
  2. Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), 2019
  3. Forest2Market, Inc., 2017
  4. NRCan, 2020
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