Traditionally, most corrugated cartons are used to ship consumer goods to retailers and other businesses, and many large companies have machines on-site to neatly bale the corrugated for recycling. With the uptick in e-commerce, there is more corrugated than ever arriving at homes across the U.S., putting the onus of recycling on the consumer. In 2020, the recovery rate for old corrugated containers (OCC) was 88.8 percent, down from 92.3 percent in 2019, according to American Forest and Paper Association recycling statistics. With an increased need to recover corrugated, there are some things you can do to encourage recycling.

Demand for Recycled Corrugated Increases

In 2018 when China implemented tight contamination restrictions on recycled materials, exports dropped considerably, decreasing demand. However, there is a great demand for recovered OCC and mixed paper domestically, driven by the increased need for packaging. Economists are expecting that demand to continue to rise through 2025.

With more people working from home and schools being remote in many areas, the amount of recovered office paper and OCC has decreased, putting a considerable strain on mills and driving up costs.

Consumers Want Sustainable Packaging

Consumers in recent years have demanded sustainability from the companies they interact with. Smurfit Kappa’s survey found that 61 percent of consumers expect brands to have clear sustainability practices. Another survey reveals the importance of recyclable packaging.

A 2021 Global Buying Green Report by Trivium Packaging looked at how consumers’ attitudes changed about sustainable packaging and recycling amidst the pandemic. It revealed that less than a third of consumers de-prioritized sustainable packaging, despite the immediate life-altering concerns people were suddenly faced with. In fact, 67 percent find the recyclability of packaging important to them.

However, the report states that global recycling rates may tell a different story. It seems values don’t always translate into behaviors. Consumers likely to adopt sustainability-oriented values in the U.S. was 50 percent, but behaviors supporting their values were at 40 percent. Encouraging recycling may be the push consumers need to align values with behavior.

How to Encourage Corrugated Recycling

Even though you have made an environmentally responsible choice in choosing corrugated packaging and, hopefully, optimizing it to reduce waste, there is still more that can be done to encourage recycling. Here are five tips to help encourage recycling.

Make it Easy – An Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) study suggests that 66% of Americans would NOT recycle a product if it’s not easy or inconvenient to do so.

Use Recyclable Materials – Use the maximum amount of recyclable materials as possible. You’re your corrugated boxes designed to eliminate the use of Styrofoam peanuts or other packaging materials that aren’t easily recycled through curbside pick-up.

Include Recycling Logo – Seeing the recycling logo in a prominent place will inform consumers of the packaging’s recyclability or remind them to recycle the packaging.

Include Recycling Details – If you are using multiple types of materials in your packaging, make it clear which can or cannot be recycled. Consider putting a note in the box with the product to encourage recycling.

Advertise Your Efforts – Let your customers know about your sustainability efforts. Include in your sales and marketing materials that you use corrugated boxes made with recycled materials and encourage recycling.

 Progress Container is Dedicated to Sustainability

Providing sustainable packaging is one of our core values. We demonstrate this in several ways.

  • We are certified to the fiber sourcing standard set by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) and the ISO 14001 Environmental Certification
  • We require our sheet suppliers to be certified under the SFI or have other certifications adhering to the guidelines promoting sustainable forestry processes
  • We minimize waste and unneeded packaging in our designs
  • We maximize the use of recycled mediums and liners
  • Through SKU management, we can reduce waste and product to only what a client needs
  • We stay current on the latest research on packaging sustainability to stay up to date on the current best practices.

Contact us to learn more.