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.

Two Sides North America Announces Retirement of President Kathi Rowzie

Kathi Rowzie

PORTLAND, Ore. – January 9, 2024 – Two Sides North America (TSNA) today announced that Kathi Rowzie will retire as its president effective February 1. Over the past four years, Rowzie has led the non-profit membership organization chartered to eliminate unsubstantiated and misleading environmental claims about print, paper and paper-based packaging and to promote the paper industry’s continuously improving sustainability performance. 

Under Rowzie’s leadership, TSNA has persuaded dozens of major corporations, government agencies and other organizations to remove unsubstantiated environmental claims about paper from their customer communications, resulting in the elimination of billions of instances of anti-paper greenwashing. Since 2020, TSNA has also increased its LinkedIn followers by 125%; initiated and conducted two Trend Tracker research studies which showed incremental improvement in consumer attitudes toward paper products and the environment; significantly increased engagement with the media on paper-related sustainability issues; introduced the “3 Minutes with Two Sides” podcast; redesigned TSNA educational materials to make them more user friendly; and more. 

“On behalf of TSNA’s members and supporters, we thank Kathi for her leadership and unyielding determination in busting common environmental myths about print and paper products and promoting the paper industry’s ever-improving environmental record,” said TSNA Executive Director Jules Van Sant. “Her efforts to eliminate anti-paper greenwashing claims and to educate businesses and consumers about the environmental benefits of paper products have laid the groundwork to continue our efforts through advocacy and education.”

“It has been my great privilege to serve as Two Sides North America president,” Rowzie said. “I am especially grateful to our members whose support has made it possible for Two Sides to consistently deliver on our commitments to eliminate unsubstantiated and misleading environmental claims about print, paper and paper-based packaging and to tell the great sustainability story of the paper industry and its products. I look forward to seeing Executive Director Jules Van Sant and Director of Operations Jill Crossley take Two Sides North America to new levels of success in 2024 and beyond.”

Rowzie will continue to work with paper industry clients and their customers, providing sustainability strategy and communications services through her consulting practice, Rowzie Group Ltd.

 


Media Contacts:

Jules Van Sant, Executive Director
Jill Crossley, Director of Operations
Two Sides North America
P:  971-288-6734
E:  info@twosidesna.org

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.

Two Sides North America Celebrates Record-Breaking Year

As we look toward the New Year, Two Sides North America has a lot to celebrate! With the help of our members and supporters who submitted greenwashing claims from their service providers, we’ve broken our all-time annual record with 30 additional wins in our Anti-greenwashing Campaign in 2023!

These wins collectively represent more than 200 million North American consumers who are no longer seeing unsubstantiated environmental claims about paper from their financial institutions, utilities, insurance companies, government agencies and other organizations.

But there’s more work to do!  As companies face inflationary pressures, they’re looking for ways to cut costs. In many cases, this means urging their customers to go paperless and using misleading environmental claims about paper to get them to make the switch. And we know this tactic works!

Two Sides North America research showed that 65% of U.S. consumers who’ve seen greenwashing claims are influenced to switch from paper to electronic communications.

You can help the Two Sides North America Anti-greenwashing Campaign achieve even greater success in 2024!

If you see greenwashing claims like “go green, go paperless” or “going paperless saves trees” from companies you do business with, or if you spot media stories promoting alternative types of packaging as environmentally superior to paper, send a pdf or jpg snip of the claims to the Two Sides North America Anti-Greenwashing Campaign at info@twosidesna.org.

If your company is not a member of Two Sides, you can support our efforts by joining today! Membership starts at just $250.  Click here for more information or give us a call at 971-288-6734.

Best Wishes for a Happy & Prosperous New Year from your Two Sides North America Team!

From the Desk of TSNA President Kathi Rowzie

Dear Two Sides Members and Supporters,

Two Sides has been busy this year, working on behalf of our members to eliminate anti-paper greenwashing claims, to help educate industry stakeholders on hot environmental topics and to conduct research on consumer attitudes toward our industry and its products. To give you a view of what we’ve been up to, here are some of the highlights.

Through 3Q24, Two Sides’ Anti-greenwashing Campaign has persuaded 24 more corporations and other organizations to eliminate anti-paper greenwashing claims, which translates to 100 million more consumers who are no longer seeing misleading environmental claims about paper products from their service providers. We are in conversation with several other large companies right now, and continue to pursue claims as we find them.

It’s important to note that Two Sides is the only industry organization that directly challenges the senior leadership of major corporations, government entities, educational institutions and other organizations to remove unsubstantiated and misleading environmental claims about paper products.

As the plastics industry increases its efforts to position its packaging products as sustainable, we are seeing increasing efforts to promote plastic as more environmentally friendly than paper packaging.  Two Sides has been aggressively responding to this type of greenwashing in the media.  The most recent example was a letter to the Washington Times in response to an opinion piece by a plastics industry lobbyist.  Our letter was picked up by various industry trade publications and news services.

Thanks to alerts from several of our members, Two Sides recently responded to greenwashing claims about “going paperless” in an opinion piece submitted by an electronic documents management company to Office Products International (OPI), a leading news source for the office products industry. While our response focused on electronic communication vs paper, it sent an important message about the sustainability of all paper products available to the office products sector. Following publication of our response, the original article was removed from the OPI website.

Two Sides responded to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s request for comment on improving the agency’s Guides to Environmental Marketing Claims (aka the Green Guides). Among other things, we suggested that paper products merit their own section in the Green Guides due to the pervasiveness of paper-related greenwashing, and we recommended that the FTC revise the Green Guides to include additional emphasis on globally recognized ISO life cycle assessment principles and practices when it comes to making comparisons of sustainability like Go Green, Go Paperless.

Our Fact Sheets are updated regularly and loaded with facts and data from credible third-party sources to help our members supplement their own sustainability efforts. Two Side members can customize these tools with their own logos for use with their customer and other stakeholders.

In addition to environmental news and facts, we continue to provide information to help our members educate their customers and other stakeholders on environmental topics specific to the paper and paper-based packaging industry.  Recent topics include sustainable fiber sourcing, the  facts about biomass energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, the truth about deforestation and alternative fibers and how greenwashing hurts both the printing papers and packaging sectors.

We introduced our new podcast, Three Minutes with Two Sides, featuring topics like the circularity of paper products.

We conducted our biennial Two Sides Trend Tracker Survey to assess U.S. consumers’ opinions, attitudes and behaviors related to print, paper and paper based packaging, and we promoted the survey results widely in the media.  Overall, the survey revealed incremental improvement in how consumers view paper products and related issues, but also showed that common misconceptions are still widespread. You’ll find an overview of the survey results here.

With our emphasis on more engaging content and graphics, our social media presence continues to grow, especially on LinkedIn, where our number of followers has grown 25% since the beginning of the year.  Each month, we send our members turnkey recommended social media posts for use in their own social media.

We continue to expand our reach by educating broader and more diverse audiences through both in-person and virtual presentations on the sustainability of our industry and its products. In 2023, our audiences have included member sales organizations, customer conferences, industry association meetings and college/university groups.

We’ve supported our members by providing content for their internal and customer communications, and we helped members, particularly those who do not have their own internal sustainability function, answer paper-related environmental questions from their customers.

On behalf of Two Sides, I want to say a huge thank you to all of our members.  Two Sides North America was able to accomplish everything highlighted here – and more – because of your continuing support.

Our members come from across the entire print, paper and paper-based packaging supply chain, and annual membership dues are Two Sides North America’s sole source of revenue.  The more we grow, the wider we can expand our efforts to end anti-paper greenwashing and tell the great sustainability story of our industry and its products.

If your company is not currently a Two Sides member, I encourage you to get in touch with us to learn why our members say the low-cost, high-value benefits Two Sides delivers is one of the best investments they make each year. You can also learn more by downloading our value proposition.

Print, paper and paper-based packaging have a great environmental story to tell!  You can help us continue to tell it in ways that make a real difference for your company, your customers and our industry as a whole.

Thank you,

Kathi Rowzie, President

info@twosidesna.org

937-999-7729

Two Sides North America Announces Leadership Transition

Phil Riebel to Retire as Two Sides North America President

Two Sides Vice President Kathi Rowzie to Become President

CHICAGO – March 30, 2021 – After starting Two Sides North America nearly a decade ago and building it into the highly successful organization it is today, Phil Riebel will retire as president of the organization effective April 1. Kathi Rowzie, who has been running the day-to-day operations of Two Sides since last March, will become president.

“Everyone who has worked with Phil over the years knows him as a trusted colleague and passionate advocate for the sustainability of print, paper and paper-based packaging,” said Jeff Hester, chairman of the Two Sides North America board of directors. “Our industry has benefitted enormously from his efforts to build Two Sides into an organization whose voice is recognized and respected across the paper value chain and among many of North America’s leading corporations.  As Phil moves on from his Two Sides role to pursue other opportunities within the industry, I want to thank him on behalf of the board of directors for his dedicated service to our Two Sides members and our industry. Though Phil is stepping down, he will remain associated with Two Sides’ mission as a valuable advocate in our strategic efforts.”

“We also want to express our enthusiastic support for Kathi as she steps into her expanded role,” said Bill Rojack, vice chairman of the Two Sides board of directors. “She brings a unique combination of paper industry, sustainability and communications expertise that will help us continue to build on Two Sides’ success.”

Rowzie’s career spans more than 30 years in corporate and consulting roles with Fortune 500 companies, including extensive experience in the paper industry and with industry customers. A longtime advocate of Two Sides, her association goes back to the organization’s beginning, when as a consultant, she was instrumental in helping launch the Two Sides website, educational tools and marketing materials.

“Kathi continues to bring new ideas and fresh perspectives that will be critically important as increasing consumer, government and ENGO attention to the sustainability of print and paper products makes Two Sides’ work more important than ever,” Hester added. “The board looks forward to working with her as we seek to take Two Sides to the next level.”

Note: The phone number for Two Sides North America has changed to 937-999-7729.  The email address will remain info@twosidesna.org.

Photos of Riebel and Rowzie may be downloaded here.

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