headline press information

Date 31st May 2013 / www.procarton.com
Title Continual Improvement
Text Consumers today want to know more about what they are buying and the environmental and social impact of their choices. This is especially so when it comes to the sustainability of the food supply chain and preventing food waste. Packaging has a positive message here for consumers. For download in print quality, please click on the photo.

Packaging plays an important role as part of the food supply chain to help prevent waste and the loss of resources used to grow or manufacture the packaged product, and it protects food from damage during its journey from the farm and factory, through retailing, to the final consumer.

The environmental impact of producing the packed product is many times greater than the environmental impact of producing its packaging, and packaging producers such as carton makers, have an interest in using only the right amount of packaging, as this reduces costs and protects the environment. In Europe, 62% of folding cartons produced are used to package food and together with other packaging, are part of the solution to the problem of food waste.

Improving performance

Consumers also want to know what effect packaging itself has on the environment, and often this can affect their decision whether or not to buy the packed product.


The cartonboard packaging industry has a great environmental story to tell. Pro Carton’s latest environmental report presents Life Cycle data from 2011 which includes virgin and recycled fibres and printed cartons. When using the same basis to compare the data from 2011 with data collected in 2008, improvements were found in the major environmental impact categories. Many of the improvements are due to more efficient use of electricity, increasing use of bio-energy , and more focus on measurement and control of water use.


Reducing Carbon Footprint

Pro Carton’s Carbon Footprint is 915 kg CO₂ equivalents from one tonne of cartonboard produced and converted. Analysis of the latest data collected in 2011 showed that the carbon footprint for cartons has reduced by 5% since 2008. This new Carbon Footprint figure continues the trend for continuous improvement in the environmental performance of the industry.


In 2009, IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute developed a methodology to calculate biogenic carbon in the Carbon Footprint of cartons. The raw material for cartonboard is wood fibre which is derived from sustainably managed forests whose trees absorb and store carbon.


IVL’s methodology measures biogenic carbon in cartons by relating the carbon benefits of the natural raw material to cartonboard packaging.
IVL proposed a positive link between net carbon sequestration in sustainably managed forests and consumption of cartons: consumer demand for cartons stimulates demand for timber (wood fibre to make cartonboard) which in turn encourages the sustainable management of forests.


The study suggests that due to demand for cartons from the market, 730 kg of biogenic carbon dioxide per average tonne of cartons in Europe, is removed from the atmosphere.


For 2011, Pro Carton’s Carbon Footprint is 915 kg CO₂ eq / tonne of cartonboard produced and converted. In a cradle-to-gate approach, the emission of 915 kg CO₂ eq / tonne of cartonboard produced and converted is significantly compensated by the figure of -730 kg biogenic CO₂ sequestration.


Using resources responsibly

European cartons’ environmental credentials are underpinned by the use of cartonboard whose wood raw material comes from sustainably managed forests. Not only are they a renewable resource, but new growth exceeds the wood harvested by an area equivalent to 1.5 million football pitches per annum. To achieve this, European forest owners and operators follow a combination of national, European and international regulations and Forest Certification Schemes, such as FSC® and PEFC™. A “chain of custody” certificate demonstrates that the wood used to make cartonboard in Europe originates from legal and traceable sources. Goods manufacturers can alert consumers to the environmental benefits of cartons through a label which shows that the cartonboard packaging comes from responsible sources.


In Europe, responsible sourcing of raw material for cartonboard which is used for the production of folding cartons is from both wood and recovered paper.


The paper and board industry has a well established recovery infrastructure in Europe. Cartons are collected from the home or kerbside or taken to collections points and then sent via waste paper merchants to mills for recycling. Around 60% of cartons in Europe are made from recycled cartonboard. In 2010, paper and board packaging achieved a recycling rate of 78%, making it the most recycled packaging material in the EU, according to Eurostat data.

By contributing to the sustainability goals of resource optimisation and waste minimisation,
cartonboard packaging helps to make the supply chain more sustainable and helps consumers to live more sustainable life styles. For more information, visit: www.procarton.com/Sustainability

A sustainably-managed Swedish forest.
A sustainably-managed Swedish forest.




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.