Competing Materials

Corrugated vs. Plastic Packaging

Responsibly managed corrugated packaging is good for the planet – plastic packaging not so much.

Everyone knows by now that plastics are disastrously destructive to the environment, especially oceans and marine life. There is heavy pressure on the plastics industry to develop new solutions and more recyclable options that could mitigate and slow down the damage. The current recovery rate for plastics is dismal at 9 percent and falling.

Meanwhile, paper-based packaging has always been a sustainable choice – safe for wildlife, degradable in the elements, nontoxic, and recyclable. For over a decade, 90 percent of corrugated boxes have been successfully recycled. In fact, the average box is recycled 7 times and contains nearly 52 percent recycled material. Corrugated packaging supports a “circular economy” by minimizing raw material usage and energy consumption, plus robust recycling and reuse, including incorporation of recycled materials into new products.

Finding Alternatives to Plastic Packaging

A growing number of campaigns to ban plastic waste are putting pressure on companies to find alternatives – not just for straws, but for all kinds of plastic packaging.

As policy-makers, companies and consumers begin to make changes to choose planet over plastics, it’s important that our industry provides information that allows decisionmakers to feel good about choosing corrugated packaging.

Different than plastics, corrugated packaging has a tremendous end-of-life success story. The recovery rate for old corrugated containers (OCC) has hovered near 90 percent for the past seven years making corrugated the most recycled packaging material in the US.

Made from a renewable resource, reusable and recyclable corrugated packaging comes full circle every day. From efficient use of managed forest lands to sustainable practices during board and box manufacture to high recovery rates that put fiber back into our system, corrugated packaging is truly circular by nature.

For years, the Fibre Box Association has been tracking companies that are switching their product packaging from plastic to paper alternatives. FBA members can view the full spreadsheet here.

Corrugated Packaging Excels over RPCs

Corrrugated excels where RPCs fall short. See more information below: