Corrugated Report Shows Environmental Progress

ITASCA, IL | The Corrugated Packaging Alliance (CPA) has released a new US corrugated industry life cycle assessment (LCA), which shows the corrugated industry’s environmental progress. The full LCA is available for download at this link.

“The LCA results demonstrate the efforts our mills and converting facilities are making to reduce the industry’s supply chain impact on the environment,” says CPA executive director Dennis Colley. “Sustainable forest procurement, along with the high old corrugated containers [OCC] recovery rate, provide for a well-balanced system of fiber and supports the sustainability of our industry’s products.”

The study examined the effects of a 1-kilogram industry-average corrugated product manufactured in 2014 on seven environmental impact indicators: global warming potential (greenhouse gas emissions), eutrophication, acidification, smog, ozone depletion, respiratory effects, fossil fuel depletion; and four inventory indicators: water use, water consumption, renewable energy demand, and non-renewable energy demand.

The corrugated industry reduced its GHG emissions by 35% between 2006 and 2014. The reduction was driven by increased OCC recovery and use of energy generated from renewable, carbon-neutral biomass and decreased overall use of fossil fuels. The recovery rate for OCC increased from 72% in 2006 to 89.5% in 2014. As more is recovered, less goes to landfill, thereby reducing methane emissions.

Other notable improvements between 2006 and 2014 include a 29% reduction in the effects of nutrient releases on receiving waters and soils (eutrophication); a 23% reduction in photo-chemical ozone creation; a 21% reduction in water use; and a 21% reduction in respiratory related effects.

The peer-reviewed study, commissioned by the CPA and conducted by the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, is the third study in a series of industry LCAs. It was conducted in accordance with ISO 14040/44 standards and guidelines for life cycle assessment studies.

The Corrugated Packaging Alliance (CPA) is a corrugated industry initiative jointly sponsored by the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), the Independent Packaging Association (AICC), the Fibre Box Association (FBA), and TAPPI. Its mission is to foster growth and profitability of corrugated in applications where it can be demonstrated, based on credible and persuasive evidence, that corrugated should be the packaging material of choice; and to provide a coordinated industry focus that effectively acts on industry matters that cannot be accomplished by individual members. CPA members include corrugated manufacturers and converters throughout North America.

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