Paper packaging not only has an essential role when it comes to safety and convenience, it also has many positive environmental benefits.
Paper is made from a renewable resource from sustainably managed forests
Unlike most other packaging materials, paper packaging is originally made from a renewable resource — trees. Trees help reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by acting as a giant set of lungs: inhaling the carbon dioxide that people, animals and decomposing matter produce; and exhaling oxygen which sustains all living organisms.
By law, Canadian provinces require that harvesters of the commercial forest regenerate the forest by new tree-planting and direct seeding, and natural regeneration. On average, over 1,000 new tree seedlings are planted in Canada every minute.
In addition, all PPEC-member mills producing corrugated box material have independent, third-party certification that their paper fibre sources (whether wood chips and sawmill residues or recycled fibres) are responsibly sourced.
Paper packaging uses recycled content
Most paper products manufactured in Canada are produced mainly of recycled content. In fact, the average recycled content of domestic shipments for the top two major packaging grades was 80.2%. The average has steadily increased from 47% in 1990, when PPEC first started collecting recycled content data from Canadian mills.
Canadians can recycle their paper packaging
The majority of Canadians – 94% – have access to recycling programs; and not only do they have access, they recycle their paper-based packaging, with the national recycling collection rate for corrugated boxes estimated to be 85%
Paper packaging can be recycled over and over again
Research shows that paper can be recycled up to seven times (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), and corrugated box fibres up to ten times (Corrugated Packaging Alliance). But, paper and board fibres may be even more durable than previously thought, and we are working to better understand how many times paper fibres can be recycled in Canadian recycling systems.
The paper packaging industry is a successful circular economy
Canada’s paper packaging industry is a circular economy. The industry uses a renewable resource from sustainably managed forests, and primarily uses recycled content, which keeps valuable raw materials out of landfill, and also reduces the need to extract virgin materials. Once used by the customer, the paper packaging is recycled, and the recycled material goes back to the mill so it can be remade into new paper-based packaging. And the cycle repeats itself again and again.
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