Packaging for the Planet

31 August 2006 (Last Updated August 31st, 2006 18:30)

Paperboard packaging offers commercial advantages and minimal environmental damage. The Paperboard Packaging Council believes that this combination makes it the material of choice for consumer goods.

Packaging for the Planet

As you walk through any grocery or retail store, you are faced with an endless possibility of product choices. Among the hundreds of available name brands, how do you find the product you seek? The answer: a recognisable package. Brand recognition is a key method for maintaining customer loyalty, and a package's design and visual impact draw new customers to a product.

Today, however, customers want more than attractive packaging. Environmental awareness permeates every facet of our lives. From our community recycling programmes and the use of recycled papers in the office to the overwhelming popularity of all things natural, we have a universal respect for our planet and its resources.

Year after year, the recovery and recycling rates of paperboard packaging in the USA continue to rise. This success is directly attributable to conscientious citizens and communities as well as an industry committed to strong conservation practices.

Paperboard packaging ultimately begins with a renewable and recyclable resource – wood fibre. Unlike metal ore, petroleum or other packaging raw materials, wood fibre is a truly renewable material. Managing this renewable forest resource and using it wisely is an industry-wide priority. A significant amount of the industry's raw material needs – 70% – is met with recovered paper fibres.

SUSTAINABLE FORESTRY

Virtually all virgin paperboard consumed in the USA today comes from tree farms, where trees are planted, harvested and replanted specifically for this end use.

The US forest and paper industry has made a bold commitment to long-term forestry, known as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). The SFI requires forestry companies to reforest harvested land promptly, take account of the habitat of local wildlife, improve water quality and ecosystem diversity, and protect forestland that has special ecological significance. The SFI is a comprehensive programme designed to give future generations the same abundant forests that we enjoy today.

Recycling is an integral part of paperboard production. First and foremost, paperboard can be made from recycled paper. As early as 1907, waste paper was collected and recycled into paperboard packaging.

"Make an environmental statement by developing your packaging design around unbleached, recycled paperboard."

In 1997, approximately eight million tonnes of old newspaper, office paper, paperboard and corrugated containers were made into 100% recycled paperboard. More than half of all paperboard packages are made from 100% recycled paperboard, which is one of the largest end uses of all types of recycled paper.

Today, recycled paperboard is used in folding cartons, set-up boxes, cores and tubes, cylindrical containers, carded packaging and various other products. In 1997, an estimated 8,770 communities, representing over 107 million people across the USA, offered paperboard-recycling programmes – a dramatic increase from only 958 communities in 1992.

In fact, paper and paperboard account for a staggering 58% of all materials diverted from the municipal waste stream for recycling.

CONSUMERS SEEK GREEN GOODS

While manufacturers have long understood the consumer's desire for convenience, freshness and cost-effectiveness, today's consumer product companies are also in step with their customers' environmental awareness.

An informed consumer often goes through a quick succession of judgements when formulating a purchasing decision. More and more frequently, a package's ability to be recycled is added to this mental checklist.

When designing a package, keep in mind that paperboard comes in various grades, weights, finishes and percentages of recycled material. Some boards are made from 100% recycled paper, while others are made from virgin fibre, which can then be recycled.

You can also make an environmental statement by developing your packaging design around unbleached recycled paperboard. This look is often associated with products that contain organic or natural ingredients.

If your company works with certain environmental organisations or causes, you can raise consumer awareness and build good will by incorporating a message of support into your folding carton's design.

CONSUMER-FRIENDLY

Apart from its low environmental impact, what makes paperboard packaging so attractive to consumers? Paperboard packaging quickly communicates product / brand identity, differentiating products from the competition.

It is consumer-friendly, facilitates the shopping process, communicates the desired product image, positions the product to generate purchase interest, and provides excellent product protection.

"When it comes to ease of opening and closing, paperboard cartons require little strength or force."

Since they are stackable, paperboard folding cartons create a wall-of-product, attracting shoppers and building brand recognition. The graphics and printing on paperboard are far superior and far bolder than on any other packaging.

Plus, the broad, flat surfaces of cartons are not only easier for barcode scanning, they're perfect for innovative visuals such as holograms, foil stamping and embossing – even allowing for interactive tools such as chalkboards.

According to our research 95% of food shoppers read labels. The ease of labelling with paperboard cartons makes them an invaluable tool for promotions and cross-merchandising, as well as a key source of ingredient, preparation and nutrition information for the consumer.

Consumers are looking for lightweight, easy-to-transport and stackable packages for efficient home storage. The traditional square shape of cartons takes up less space in cabinets and refrigerators, allowing consumers to buy and store more products. When it comes to ease of opening and closing, paperboard cartons require little strength or force – an important fact for older consumers and young children.

Today's high-volume, high-speed machinery requires close tolerances for package set-up, filling and sealing, and paperboard cartons are the perfect fit. Since folding cartons are shipped and stored flat, they contribute to efficient warehousing, transportation and inventory control.

What's more, paperboard folding cartons help ensure that food products are just as nutritious and appealing when they reach the consumer as they were when they left the plant. Product tampering is a primary concern, and paperboard packaging makes it easy for companies to apply multiple security, RFID and similar tagging devices.

Paperboard fits in with the way we package, the way we market and, ultimately, the way we live.