Saturday, June 13, 2009

RECYCLING: Recycled Content in Paper Packaging - Why It's Not Always a Good Idea

Recycle logo PAP, other cardboardImage of recycle PAP, other cardboard logo via Wikipedia

Recycled Content in Paper Packaging - Why It's Not Always a Good Idea by Tracey J Smith

You're faced with 'green marketing' every day. Trying to make heads or tails of it can make your head spin. This article is dedicated to easing the pain in your head just a wee bit.

Let's consider all those boxes we use for shipping goods across the country and around the world. If you're in the packaging industry, you know the challenge of trying to balance the perception of what's good vs what really is. Just how important is that recycled content anyway? I'll explain in less that two paragraphs for you!

I've spent two years in a Fortune 500 company studying the environmental aspects of their packaging. We constantly get customers insisting that we increase the percentage of recycled content in our boxes, especially in North America. If they're a global customer, they've probably noticed that the same box made in China has a much higher recycled content.

Well, consider the following. A manufacturer would need to get the recycled content from a provider of recycled fiber. Here in North American, the pulp mills can only supply what they have. In China, that supply is much larger. To get that amount of recycled fiber into North America to put in boxes, we would need to ship recycled fiber from half way across the world. In reality, the carbon footprint to do that is much larger that the footprint to obtain virgin fiber from an American or Canadian forest.

But have no fear, our boxes contain virgin fiber only from certified "responsibly managed forests."

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