We have seen a strong focus on green initiatives from both federal and local governments, as well as a demand from consumers for environmentally friendly products. As a topic such as sustainability gains popularity, it’s easy for brands to want to jump on the bandwagon, making sustainability claims. But what about sustainable packaging? Is this just another gimmick, or can you make an environmental impact with the packaging you choose?
Not all packaging is considered sustainable packaging. The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) provides the following criteria as an outline for specific actions required to develop a sustainable packaging system.
One material that immediately comes to mind as being sustainable is paper and corrugated board that it is made from. Corrugated comes from trees and, when responsibly sourced, is a renewable resource. It is also recyclable, and the recycled material is used to make new packaging.
Most corrugated board is made from a combination of recycled and virgin fibers. Why not 100 percent recycled? Each time corrugated is recycled, the fibers get shorter, making the board weaker, so virgin fibers are needed. When virgin fibers are harvested from sustainably managed forests, it encourages forestry practices that facilitate long-term growth. In fact, the U.S. has seen a steady increase in forest area from 1990 to 2020, with an increase of more than 18 million acres, according to the Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations, Global Forest Resource Assessment 2020.
Let’s dig into the virgin fibers that are used to make corrugated board. The Sustainable Packaging Coalition states that responsible sources of fibers are those that are traceable, legal, responsibly harvested, and/or socially responsible.
Traceability is critical for supply chain visibility and tracking the origins and use of fiber-based products. Legal is somewhat self-explanatory – harvesting, trading, and transporting wood must comply with all applicable laws to prevent forest ecosystem degradation, human rights violations, and other serious consequences. Responsibly harvested means that harvesting the lumber didn’t pose a significant threat to species or ecosystems of concern, in addition to protecting human rights and following applicable laws. Similarly, social responsibility protects the right of workers, indigenous peoples, and local communities.
With the spike in eCommerce, people are shipping packages now more than ever. But luckily, consumers and businesses are being responsible and recycling it. Recycling means a material can be collected, sorted, reprocessed, and reused as raw material. In 2021, 91.4 percent of all corrugated cardboard was recycled, and the rate has exceeded 82% since 2009. Corrugated is the most recycled packaging in the U.S. The rate is so high because 94 percent of Americans have access to community recycling programs.
On its own corrugated meets the definition of sustainable packaging, but when you partner with a packaging manufacturer that focuses on sustainable practices, you can help the environment even more.
At Dusobox, we work with you to create custom packaging solutions that fit your product, reducing extraneous materials and waste as well as reducing damaged products that end up in the waste stream. In addition, we strive to continually improve our environmental performance through recycling (over 20 tons daily) and using eco-friendly materials.
If you are looking for a partner to help you reach your packaging sustainability goals, contact us to set up a meeting to discuss your needs.