The Tech Box
When it Comes to Packaging, Invest in a Truly Recyclable, Sustainable, and Renewable Resource
This year's theme for Earth Day is "Invest in Our Planet." Making sustainable decisions in life has always mattered, and it is up to us all to make measured decisions about what we buy - how we influence what we put into our world and our bodies. We should practice the change we want to see in the world.
In the United States, packaging waste – the products that wrap and protect our goods, accounts for over
82 million tons
of municipal solid waste (MSW) annually. The amount of packaging in our garbage and recycling bins increases year over year. There are some positive trends, but not all packaging is created equal, nor is it all recyclable. Only 53% of packaging is ultimately recycled.
Wood fiber-based packaging is a 100% recyclable material. Paper, paperboard, and corrugated packaging get recycled at a higher rate than any other packaging material, at over 80%. In contrast, around
13% of plastic packaging and containers get recycled annually
The need to reclaim old corrugated containers (OCC) is vital to a circular economy. Recycling leads to Job creation and lower emissions during manufacturing processes. And it also means less waste going to landfills.
Wood fiber, used for paper-based packaging, is a renewable resource, unlike mined
metals or natural gas processing and crude-oil refining used in the raw materials/feedstock
for plastics production
. All these are non-renewable resources, and
40% of plastics are made to be used one time
90% of harvested trees
come from tree farms, most family-owned. Seedlings repeatedly replace the harvested trees. It's an economically and environmentally robust method of keeping land valuable but marginally developed and still a carbon sink
One ton of recycled fiber saves 7,000 gallons of water
during the manufacturing process. Wood fibers can be recycled many times, increasing the rate of carbon sequestration and reducing greenhouse gas concentrations. The spent fiber can then be turned into municipal compost because it is 100% biodegradable.
We need to turn the tide of plastic pollution invading our oceans, beaches, backyards, and bodies by using wood fiber-based packaging and moving away from plastic packaging. Plastics pollution is at the bottoms of our deepest oceans and the summits of our highest mountains. Plastics turn up in the human circulatory system and deep inside our lungs.
The World Health Organization says
that microplastics are ubiquitous, detected in freshwater, wastewater, food, air, bottled water, tap water, etc. The average infant consumes more than
1.5 million microplastic particles per day
. Another potential concern is around the ingestion of much-smaller nano plastics. Once in the gut, these extra tiny plastic particles can
make their way into the bloodstream and be transported throughout the body
This Earth Day, I pledge to look at the types of packaging and products I purchase and make a conscious effort to pick recyclable, sustainable, and renewable
packaging for the planet and for my family’s health.
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Chase Kammerer is the Technical Services Manager at Fibre Box Association (FBA). If you have technical questions about the corrugated industry, you can reach him directly at