This week I’m participating in the Paper + Packaging Board’s (P+PB) Industry Communicators Event.
Held annually, the event brings together communicators from a broad range of paper-based packaging associations like the Envelope Manufacturers’ Association, Paperboard Packaging Council, American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) and of course Fibre Box Association (FBA).
It’s an opportunity for communicators to get an update on what’s happening at P+PB, but also a chance to share what’s happening at their associations.
This year instead of simply sharing, there is a panel discussion on forestry, waste and recycling with a kick-off introduction on over-arching industry priorities based on AF&PA’s new Better Practices, Better Planet 2030 initiative.
I’m looking forward to the discussion as messages about both forestry and waste and recycling have been at the center of FBA’s “Boxes. The Most Extraordinary Ordinary Thing in the World.” promotions program since it began nearly five years ago.
The corrugated industry has long known the need for both new and recycled fibers in our raw material stream. This balanced system requires a deep commitment to sustainable forestry management and to recycling.
The corrugated industry first showed its commitment to recycling in 1970, when in conjunction with the first Earth Day, a corrugated company introduced the world to the now universal chasing arrows. The industry innovated again in 1993 when it introduced the Corrugated Recycles symbol that today still appears on the bottom of most corrugated boxes.
Now the industry is poised to act again to help boost residential recovery. Since China enacted the National Sword program limiting imported recyclables in late 2017 and
raised the question, “Planet or plastics?” in June 2018, there has been both growing skepticism of recycling and an outpouring of consumers’ desire to better understand what today can and can’t be recycled.
The good news is there is no shortage of industry initiatives to help consumers choose the recycling bin over the trash bin especially in a time when pandemic-driven e-commerce buying has generated such a large increase in doorstep deliveries. Efforts exist to make recycling more accessible, to increase frequency of collection, to provide carts instead of bins for greater capture, and most importantly educate consumers with on box labeling.
Together all these efforts will make a difference. The challenge for our associations will be the alignment of messages to create a louder and unified voice to consumers.
As I head into this week’s meeting, I am hopeful the participants’ experiences in communicating the extraordinary recycling success story of paper-based packaging – led by corrugated packaging’s unparalleled recycling rate which has hovered near 90 percent for the last decade – will allow us to generate just the right outreach consumers need to find confidence in recycling at home.