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About cartons & cartonboard

About cartons and cartonboard

What are Cartons and Cartonboard?

Cartons are small to medium-sized “cardboard boxes” made from cartonboard. They are used to package a wide range of products from foodstuffs – such as cereals, frozen and chilled food, confectionery, bakery goods, tea, coffee and other dry foods – to pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and more.

Many different types of cartonboard are manufactured, all of which can be made in a variety of different weights (grammages) and thicknesses. The type of cartonboard and the fibre composition depends on the intended use and the specific requirements. Usually, cartonboard is made up of several plies to make the best possible use of the different types of raw materials and optimise product performance.

Cartonboard is made from wood chippings (from trees) or from recycled paper and board. The wood raw material comes from sustainably managed forests. Not only are they a renewable resource, but in Europe, forest growth exceeds wood harvested. European forests are grown and harvested in a carefully controlled and sustainable way – so successfully that European forests, where most of the raw material comes from, have grown by an area the size of Switzerland in just 10 years! Trees play an essential role in reducing climate change as they absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen.

Cartonboard is renewable, recyclable and biodegradable. It is a truly sustainable packaging material and a perfect example of the circular economy.

It is also extremely flexible and versatile. It can be folded and creased into many different shapes and its print and special effects capabilities are almost infinite from embossing and gold foiling through to 3D holographic effects.

Here you can see a few examples of cartons all of which were recent winners in the European Carton Excellence Awards: 

Please note that this competition is all about printed “folding” cartons so brown fluted corrugated boxes and liquid packaging (e.g. fruit juice cartons) are excluded.


Cartons and Cartonboard

More than ever, packaging is needed to protect products and the environment, but also to sell the packaged products. It’s the only thing that always accompanies a product, regardless of its point of sale – on-shelf or online; the only “companion“ that can support the product anytime and anywhere.

No form of packaging is more communicative and informative than the carton. Cartons have a high-quality image, offer strong shelf impact and are highly regarded by the consumer. Research confirms that they trust and prefer them to other forms of packaging.

With their high-quality printing and the vast array of special effects, cartons provide a quality image at the point of sale that can be vital to the success of a product. The addition of texture or “feel” to a carton can give it additional emotional appeal to the consumer. Designs can include tamper-evidence, child-resistance or other security benefits through tagging mechanisms, creative constructional design as well as print and ink system technologies. Also, did you know that packaging protects 10 times more resources than it uses and has only 3 – 5% of the environmental load compared to food production?

Improvements in cartonboard technology, have led to significant reductions in the weight of board needed to produce cartons. Over the last 20 years, the weight of cartons for the same products has come down by approximately 40%. Raw materials are readily and consistently available – and totally sustainable.

Additionally, at the end of life, cartons are collected and recycled and form an important secondary raw material. Research has shown that we can recycle paper fibres more than 25 times and around 85% of paper and cartonboard packaging is recycled across Europe, much more than other materials. Today about 50% of cartons in Europe are made from recycled fibre and 50% from virgin fibre. Both are equally important in achieving a fully functioning circular economy.

Cartons can also be composted, a process that is also known as “organic recycling”. Cartonboard is ideal for composting because cellulose fibre is biodegradable. This means that it can be broken down into natural substances by bacteria using microbial enzymes, thereby producing carbon dioxide, water and compost (humus).

Cartonboard is natural, renewable, recyclable and, should it accidentally go back into nature, biodegradable. It is a truly sustainable packaging material –

Packaging for a better world.