Submitted by: The Two Sides Team January 21, 2020
While cardboard packaging is undoubtedly one of the most sustainable materials in the world, when it comes to hard, scientific data on its actual carbon footprint, there’s very little information. Recycling rates, renewable energy use, forestry schemes, replanting programmes, water use – figures are available for most of the individual parts of the production and recycling process, but there’s never been an actual number for the amount of carbon emissions generated during the manufacture of cartonboard packaging – until now.
The final figure
In a partnership with Pro Carton, the European Association of Carton and Cartonboard Manufacturers, the Research Institute of Sweden have carried out an extensive research project that’s found that for every tonne of cartons manufactured by the carton packaging industry in Europe, a total of 326kg of CO2 is emitted.
That figure takes into account every single aspect of the manufacturing process, including all emissions from fossil fuels, as well as those from renewable sources such as plants and trees, plus removals and emissions from direct land-use change.
“Cartons are one of the most eco-friendly forms of packaging and we are delighted that the new carbon footprint figure further endorses that”
“The new methodology presented in this report is comprehensive because it fully recognises the carbon impacts of carton packaging from forest to converted cartons,” says Tony Hitchin, General Manager of Pro Carton. “Cartons are one of the most eco-friendly forms of packaging and we are delighted that the new carbon footprint figure further endorses that.”
Figures to be proud of
Since this new study is broader than any previous one, with different methodology, this new figure cannot be directly compared to previous research. But a comparison was undertaken using the old methodology, which showed that on a like-for-like basis the industry had improved its carbon footprint by around 9% since the last report in 2015.
This boost for the environmental credentials of European cardboard packaging sits alongside a host of other stats that back up the eco-friendliness of this versatile material. Those stats include a recycling rate of 85% (Eurostat), 56% of the primary energy used being biomass-based, 82% of raw materials sourced from responsibly managed forests, and 95% of the water used cleaned and reused (Confederation of European Paper Industries). It’s an impressive list that just keeps getting longer.
The groundbreaking Pro Carton/ Research Institute of Sweden study puts a quantifiable figure on how much carbon is emitted during the production of cardboard packaging. Now, as soon as every other packaging material does the same, we’ll see just how environmentally friendly paper and cardboard packaging is.
Article by Sam Upton
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