The corrugated packaging sector minimised its carbon footprint by 4.8% between 2009 and 2011, following a reduction of almost 12% in the previous three-year cycle, according to a new study.
According to the European Federation of Corrugated Board Manufacturers' (FEFCO) European database for corrugated board lifecycle studies, the average carbon footprint of corrugated packaging is currently 746kg per tonne, compared to 784kg pr tonne for the period 2006-2008.
Reductions in energy consumption and improvements in the industry's use of recycled materials have made it possible to produce new corrugated packaging, which increased from 82% in 2009 to 85% in 2012 across Europe.
According to the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI), the latest set of carbon footprint figures are proof that the corrugated industry leads the way in environmental matters.
CPI Packaging Affairs director Andy Barnetson said the new figures show the steps taken by the industry to protect the environment, through extensive improvements in the manufacturing process.
"Corrugated packaging has superb environmental credentials, and this is being recognised in both the supply chain and by consumers, however, the industry is not complacent," Barnetson said.
Corrugated packaging, which protects around 75% of goods in transit, has showed the way to address problems pertaining to lightweight packaging and space efficiency in stores as well as trucks.
The material, majority of which is manufactured from recycled material, and where virgin fibre is used, can be found in various sectors including retail multiples, manufacturers and distributors; from heavy industrial components to fragile items.
The majority of corrugated packaging comes from sustainably managed forests, using softwoods such as pine and spruce, which are accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).
Image: Majority of corrugated packaging is made from recycled material; Photo: Courtesy of nuttakit