Why paper-based packaging is a responsible choice

Cathy Foley

January 30, 2014

2 Min Read
Why paper-based packaging is a responsible choice

The Responsible Package Initiative was created to provide businesses and the public with the facts about paper-based packaging as a renewable, recyclable, sustainable choice that also is reliable and economically viable.

Paper-based packaging such as boxes, containers, cartons, sacks and bags are part of our everyday lives, so it can be easy to forget what makes them so useful. Unlike other packaging options, paper-based packaging is made from trees-a renewable source that is sustainably grown, managed and harvested specifically for the paper industry-or from recovered fiber, allowing our industry to reuse its products.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, paper-based packaging is recovered more than any other packaging material. Paper and paperboard represent more than 70 percent of all packaging recovered for recycling in the U.S. and, in 2011, 91 percent of old corrugated containers were recovered for recycling.

Paper-based packaging is reused and recycled more than any other packaging material, accounting for nearly three-quarters of all packaging materials recovered for recycling. In fact, more paper-based packaging (by weight) is recovered for recycling from municipal solid waste streams than glass, plastic, steel and aluminum combined.

Existing curbside or drop-off recycling programs-to which 87 percent of the U.S. population has access-facilitate these high recovery rates.

Continued progress

In 2011, the paper industry established Better Practices, Better Planet 2020. This initiative includes one of the most extensive collections of quantifiable sustainability goals for any major U.S. manufacturing industry.

The first year data demonstrate that the industry made significant, measurable progress on achieving the initiative's specific and challenging goals: increasing the recovery of paper for recycling, improving energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting sustainable forestry practices, while reducing the workplace injury rate to create safe workplaces.

Continuing to make progress on these goals will help the paper industry focus on sustainability efforts that create value in society and for our companies, preserve and grow the economic contributions of the industry and its businesses; and foster the well-being of employees and the communities where the paper industry is located.

To learn more about The Responsible Package, visit http://theresponsiblepackage.com. To read more about Better Practices, Better Planet 2020, visit www.afandpa.org/Sustainability

Cathy Foley is group vp of the American Forest & Paper Assn., which is a founding member association of The Responsible Package Initiative.

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