There is a growing expectation from consumers, brands and retailers that the packaging they use will be truly recycled, in order to reduce its impact on the environment. Producers of cartonboard packaging are committed to delivering on this expectation. Cartonboard fibres are fully recyclable, that is without question.
Sometimes, of course, cartonboard is combined with other materials, either for aesthetic effect or to enhance the functionality of the packaging. The cartonboard and folding carton industry has been, and is, developing coatings which provide the barrier properties necessary, in some cases for food preservation, but which are also recyclable and compostable. Several board mills have already announced significant developments in this area and it is imperative that this work continues apace. If you’re not familiar with the progress that’s being made check out the websites of the Pro Carton members.
Each of the countries in Europe has its own waste collection system and each has differing ways of recycling the various materials. Brand owners and retailers are requesting consistent recycling standards across Europe and have therefore, in collaboration with other organisations, created their own design guidelines to ensure that the packaging they develop can indeed be recycled in practice. One such initiative is the “National Pact on Plastic Packaging” in France that includes Nestlé, Unilever, Danone and Auchan amongst its signatories.
This pact goes way beyond just single use plastic and even extends into laminate packaging including cartonboard laminates. This pact states that in the context of a 2025 timeframe and the Global Commitment, a package can only be considered recyclable if its main packaging components, together representing more than 95% of the entire packaging weight, are actually recyclable. Clearly, it is important to keep abreast of customers’ thinking and policy on these issues and respond to them appropriately.
The carton industry will continue to do its utmost to develop alternative coatings and barriers that are environmentally friendly thus ensuring that the we remain at the forefront of the move towards a truly circular economy.