From Glastonbury Festival’s endorsement of reusable water bottles, to reports of a surge in demand for paper straws, sustainable packaging remains high on the news agenda.
In fact, a recent study revealed 68% of UK shoppers say the environmental impact of a product’s packaging now affects their decision to purchase that product.
It is worth remembering that cardboard boxes contain, on average, 75% recycled fibres and more than 80% of the cardboard we use in the UK is recycled, making it a truly sustainable packaging material.
So, what does it mean for packaging to be sustainable? At Beyond the Box, we believe sustainable packaging materials should be recyclable, renewable, reusable and biodegradable – and cardboard is a material that ticks all four of those boxes.
But, while you’re likely to be confident on a number of these words’ definitions, many of us are less sure about what it means for a packaging resource to be ‘renewable’. Scroll on for the facts.
What does ‘renewable’ mean?
According to the Oxford dictionary, a renewable resource is one which is not depleted when used. In other words, it’s something that is replenished by the environment over relatively short period of time.
Why is this important?
Unlike non-renewable materials, renewable resources are those which won’t become exhausted. This means we can use the resource now, and in the future.
Where does cardboard come in?
Cardboard is a renewable material as paper – which is used to create it – is made from a natural, renewable resource, wood. It literally grows on trees. Wood can be produced in an endless cycle thanks to sustainable forest management.
How does sustainable forest management work?
The paper used to create cardboard is typically certified by FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or PEFC (the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification). Typically, for every tree harvested to make paper-based materials like cardboard, three more are planted. Across Europe, this means the equivalent of 1,500 football pitches-worth of trees are planted every single day.
Thanks to a rigorous re-planting agenda, European forests have been steadily growing in size. In the ten years between 2005 and 2015, they expanded by almost 17,000 square miles – an area the size of Switzerland. These growing trees absorb CO2 from the atmosphere.
What does this mean for me?
This means you can rest assured that the cardboard boxes arriving on your doorstep after an online shopping haul, keeping your pizza delivery warm or lending a helping hand when you’re packing up and moving house, started life in forests which are managed responsibly and sustainably. Good news, all round!
What’s more, as the UK’s sustainable packaging material, cardboard will be just as important for many years to come.