Corrugated companies are helping retailers make savings in the supply chain and cut their carbon footprint by developing packaging solutions that maximise storage and reduce transport costs by enabling increased efficiencies, says the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI).
Consumers are helping to drive the trend towards sustainable business practices as they become more aware than ever of the environmental impact of goods. The environmental impact of food waste is 10 times as significant as packaging, and well-designed packaging is the best way to protect food from getting damaged or spoiled. In addition to protecting the contents, packaging can also look to reduce its own impacts and, as an example, effective steps taken by the Corrugated Industry have seen a steady reduction in average board weight over the last 10 years.
Average corrugated board weight at the start of 2015 was 464gsm, a reduction of 12% compared to 2005 (527gsm). The long-term downward trend in average board weight is set to continue alongside an increase in production of the material, as borne out by the latest figures from CPI.
Efficient production goes hand in hand with sustainability. Following the volatile trading conditions caused by the 2008 recession, the Corrugated Industry is steadily regaining lost ground as the UK economy emerged from the downturn. CPI reported that the total area of corrugated board produced by its Members rose by 4% in 2015 compared to 2010.
However, the weight of paper used to make this increased amount of corrugated board decreased by 3% during the same period. In other words, less paper was used to meet a significantly increased demand from consumers.
CPI’s Director of Packaging Affairs, Andy Barnetson, said: “Corrugated box makers are helping to meet demand from consumers and retailers for attractive and sustainable packaging. The industry is doing more with less by taking effective steps to hold its own in a fiercely competitive global market.
“New technological advances have enabled papers to be made stronger, meaning that lighter weights can be used for the same roles. Combined with novel fluting grades, this makes for significant space savings in transit and storage. Corrugated will continue to evolve and adapt to the challenges ahead.”
Corrugated packaging has superb environmental credentials; however, the industry is not complacent. It is renowned for innovation and will continue to explore ways of reducing the carbon footprint of its products further still. It sets a benchmark for versatility as it can be adapted to fit almost any shape and size, making it a vital packaging partner for a variety of reasons.
As well as optimising packaging, measures to combat waste include increasing re-use and recycling. Over 80% of corrugated is recycled, and new UK boxes are made from more than 75% recycled material. Where new fibre is used, it typically comes from sustainably managed forests. This commitment to responsible forest management has made a huge contribution to the increase in the size of Europe’s forests (up by 30% since 1950).
Sustainability is not a buzz-word, it’s good business. The UK Corrugated Industry is constantly looking for, and investing in, processes and logistical efficiencies that can provide the sustainable future that an increasing number of consumers are expecting from packaging.