These are tough times for manufacturers, with consumer demands for packaging sustainability and transparency growing louder every day. Challenged to find new solutions, companies are searching for the right balance of environmental responsibility, availability, recyclability and cost. While the quest for truly sustainable packaging is not a simple solution, one material that has come to the forefront for its many advantages: corrugated packaging.
A renewable resource
Corrugated is manufactured from multiple sources including timber from managed forests, reclaimed materials and fibers and recycled paper. The virgin timber utilized is typically from fast-growing pine trees that benefit the environment by absorbing carbon dioxide during the growth cycle. Many consumers recognize the benefits of paper as a natural and renewable material, which makes it a good choice from a public perspective.
Corrugated offers full life cycle accountability
According to the latest data from the EPA (2015), the most-recycled or composted products and materials in the U.S. were corrugated boxes (28.9 million tons). In addition, many people save and reuse empty corrugated boxes as they offer a good combination of strength and durability.
Recycled corrugated has a smaller environmental footprint
While the paper industry has been maligned in the past for the energy and water consumed in paper manufacture, use of recycled materials has greatly reduced this impact. Recycled paper has already been transformed by initial manufacturing processes and it is estimated that one ton of recycled paper requires 31% less energy and over 9,000 gallons less water than production from virgin fiber.
Corrugated can reduce overall packaging requirements
Whether sealed with adhesive or tape, corrugated boxes offer provide security and protection for products from the manufacturer to the end user. Corrugated cases provide superior stacking strength and protection for products throughout shipping and warehousing. Companies looking to reduce their packaging are finding that right sizing their corrugated cases or trays through packaging optimization technology can reduce the amount of primary packaging required, saving money, resources and cutting shipping costs.
Around the globe, from Amazon to Alibaba, from luxury goods retailers to Walmart, companies are seeking responsible packaging solutions. The Walmart Sustainable Packaging Playbook sets three packaging priorities:
- Optimized design
- Sourced sustainably
- Designed for recycling
Corrugated shippers can fulfill all of these requirements. While corrugated may not be the solution for every packaging need, it offers many advantages that make it a top consideration as a sustainable packaging solution.