As an industry based on the renewable resource of the forest, cartonboard has a unique advantage as a packaging material. It can claim that the raw material derived from sustainably managed forests captures and stores carbon, that cartons in use continue to store carbon, and that recycling cartons keeps the carbon locked up and prevents it from returning to the atmosphere.
The Carton Industry’s Position on Carbon Footprint – fossil and biogenic carbon
- Cartons’ raw material – cartonboard – is made from wood fibres from sustainable forests. Sustainable forest management is part of the important relationship between forests and climate.
- Growing trees capture and store carbon (biogenic carbon) and when the wood fibre is processed into cartons, the carbon continues to be stored in the cartons.
- There is a beneficial link between the market’s demand for cartons and carbon sequestration.
- Cartons should be credited for the carbon sequestration of their raw material when cartons’ carbon footprints are calculated: biogenic carbon in cartons should be credited against carbon dioxide emitted during the cartons’ life cycle
The 2019 Carbon Footprint figure is 326 kgCO2e per tonne of converted cartons.
The Carbon benefits of recycling
When paper is recycled, the carbon stored in the paper product is prevented from going back to the atmosphere, keeping the fibres that originated from sustainable forestry in the value chain. Thus, sequestration in paper products is substantially prolonged by recycling. Fibres can be recycled up to 25 times or more and afterwards, they can be used for energy recovery. The carbon benefits of recycling also include allowing increased carbon to accumulate in the forest and reducing the methane released from landfills.