headline press information

Date 23rd February 2012 / www.procarton.com
Title Maximising our Resources
Text Although we are still discussing the topic of Sustainability, another environmental challenge is now taking centre stage: Resource Efficiency. How does the cartonboard packaging sector respond to this challenge?  
  What is Resource Efficiency? One definition is "the sustainable management and use of resources throughout their life cycle". And in more detail: "producing more value from materials: minerals, biomass, fuels, and from eco-systems: biodiversity, marine resources, air, water, land and soils".

Cartonboard packaging already has a good story to tell on Sustainability. Over the past two decades , the industry has reduced its atmospheric emissions, effluent load, carbon footprint, water intake and energy use. Building on its Sustainability record, cartonboard packaging can point to many positive aspects which show that it is resource efficient.

Renewable resource
Almost all of the wood fibre used for production of cartonboard in Europe comes from managed European forests. This resource is sustainably managed and renewable and forest owners supplying the industry can demonstrate this by applying to independent, third party, auditing bodies for an assessment of their performance. The two main certification bodies are PEFC and FSC. 99.9% of company owned and company leased forests in Europe are certified by independent certification schemes.


Responsible use of materials
Cartonboard manufacturers use wood fibres from forest thinnings, small diameter tops of large trees and the round sections of the trunks which are removed in the saw mills (saw mill waste).

No tropical rain forests are destroyed in order to produce cartonboard in Europe. The European cartonboard industry does not use wood from tropical rain forests, as, apart from other considerations, this wood is not technically suitable.

The cartonboard industry also uses waste as a resource, through recovering and recycling used paper and board. Manufacturers constantly work to optimise material use and thus reduce waste. For example, increasing efficiency of stock preparation through investment in modern technology has led to an increase in the recuperation of recovered fibres by several thousand tons per year, and the reduction of rejects from the production process.

Reducing environmental footprint
Comparing the two Pro Carton Life Cycle datasets measured over the past decade, improvements are found in all environmental impact categories. Many of the improvements achieved are due to less chemicals and less fossil fuels being used and greater use of biomass to generate energy. The decrease in use of fossil resources has led to a decrease in carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from the industry’s production processes.


Efficient water usage
As water issues are local to the manufacturing site and carry different weights depending on location in Europe, the European paper and board industry has focused to date on water abstraction by mills. Companies are encouraged to improve efficiency of the water resources used at the mills in the production process and the water resources drawn from the ground or surface. The trend during the past two decades has been to reduce the withdrawal of fresh water by 20% in total volume. In 2008, 94% of the water taken by the European paper industry was returned to surface water supplies.


Efficient use of Energy
European paper and board companies, including cartonboard manufacturers, are leaders in renewable energy. Mills produce much of their electricity and most of their heat on site by means of efficient co-generation plants and increasingly, surplus electricity is supplied to the local or national grid. Installation of boilers fuelled by biomass has meant that more than half of the European pulp and paper industry’s total primary energy consumption is bio-energy and this corresponds to one fifth of the bio-energy produced in Europe.

The use of bio-energy has an enormous impact on the emissions profile of the industry. Carbon dioxide emissions from biomass are considered at least carbon neutral and according to the recent Pro Carton study, using cartons has a positive effect on the climate change issue. The use of renewable resources which are used responsibly and which benefit climate change as a substitute for fossil fuels such as coal and oil, is undoubtedly an asset for the industry and excellent example of resource efficiency.

The trend is also continuing for using less energy. From 1991–2010, the European pulp and paper industry’s consumption of electricity and all primary energy fell steadily by 14%, thanks to more efficient processes and use of cogeneration.

Preventing Food Waste
In the EU Commission’s “Road map to a Resource Efficient Europe” food has been identified as a key impact area, and therefore indirectly, packaging is involved in this debate. Packaging is however, part of the solution to this environmental problem. The European Parliament recognised this in its resolution for urgent measures to halve food waste by 2025: “the optimisation and efficient use of food packaging can play an important role in preventing food waste by reducing a product’s overall environmental impact”.

In Europe, 62% of folding cartons produced are used to package food. By protecting food and reducing food waste, cartons contribute to resource efficiency and more sustainable consumption. They benefit society by helping to make our modern, convenience-driven lifestyles possible.

For more information, please visit the Pro Carton Resource Efficiency and Sustainability websites at www.procarton.com.

Iggesund Paperboard

Iggesund Paperboard



Jennifer Buhaenko +44 1371 856 577 buhaenko@procarton.com
Background Pro Carton is the European Association of Carton and Cartonboard manufacturers. Its main purpose is to promote the use of cartons and cartonboard to brand owners, the trade as well as designers, the media and politicians as an economically and ecologically balanced packaging medium.