The paper and board industry needs both primary fibres from sustainably managed forests and recycled fibres from recovered paper and board.
Wood fibre can be recycled more than 25 times, but cannot be recycled indefinitely. Fibres lose strength and length and an input of primary fibre is needed to maintain the properties of the cartonboard.
30% of paper and board either remains as a finished product, such as tissues or archived books – or when the fibre is recycled, some weaker fibres are lost in processing and these need to be replaced with primary fibre.
Large trees are not cut down to make paper and board products, such as cartonboard. The paper and board industry uses forest thinnings, which are small trees which are removed so that the remaining trees grow to maturity and can be used for sawn timber. The industry also uses the small diameter tops of large trees and saw mill waste to make primary fibre.
Why is recycling cartons good for the environment?
Because using folding cartons and then recycling them has a low impact on the environment.
From the waste point of view, cartons can be easily collected and sent to a mill for recycling into cartonboard or other paper products. Alternatively, they can be composted or finally sent to to an energy-from-waste incinerator.
From the climate change point of view, the carbon that is absorbed by the trees and stored in the wood fibres in the carton, is kept locked up in the fibres when it is recycled.