Focus on Sustainability

For over a century the corrugated industry has built a business philosophy dedicated to responsibility, from worker safety to economic viability and environmental stewardship.

“Sustainability is based on a simple principle. Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.”


Economic Focus

Corrugated packaging is cost-effective. Corrugated packaging is lightweight, lowering freight & handling costs with fewer trucks, less fuel and lower emissions. Corrugated is cost-effective and reliable, while attracting eco-conscious customers who prefer to choose sustainably packaged products. It’s the responsible choice that pays off. Learn more here. Topics include:

Responsibly managed corrugated packaging is good for the planet

Corrugated is 100% Renewable and Recyclable*

*Recyclable unless treated with wet strength, coated or impregnated with petroleum-based wax.

*Recyclable unless treated with wet strength, coated or impregnated with petroleum-based wax.

Recycling Focus

More corrugated packaging is recovered for recycling than any other packaging material. The recovery rate for old corrugated containers (OCC) has hovered around 90 percent for years. Learn all about corrugated recycling here. Topics include:

Renewable Focus

Corrugated packaging is renewable. The journey of the corrugated box begins in a sustainably-managed forest. There, certified foresters and loggers harvest just enough trees to make packages. And for each tree harvested, three more are planted to take its place. Corrugated packaging is a completely renewable resource: environmentally responsible, recyclable and compostable. The corrugated packaging industry is committed to helping customers find responsible packaging solutions – to make products that are more sustainable. Find some facts on the renewability of corrugated packaging here.


U.S. forests & forest products store enough carbon each year to offset approximately 10% of the nation’s CO2 emissions.


Corrugated Life Cycle Assessment

The corrugated industry is constantly working to improve our environmental progress. In June 2017, the industry released its third life cycle assessment report measuring and documenting the cradle-to-cradle environmental impact of corrugated packaging manufactured in 2014. The new study builds on the first-ever U.S. corrugated-industry LCA, released In 2010 and its update released in 2014. Find more information on the Life Cycle Assessments here.

Comparative Life Cycle Assessment

The corrugated industry has completed a comparative life cycle assessment (LCA) study to bring a scientifically robust and transparent environmental assessment of corrugated containers and reusable plastic containers (RPC) to the produce industry and the public. The LCA compares the environmental impact from extraction of raw materials to end-of-life for the two commonly-used produce container systems across eight of the highest volume produce items. Find more information on the results of the comparative life cycle assessment here.

Source: Fibre Box Association

 Recycling Corrugated Packaging

Corrugated is the most recycled packaging material: 96 percent of corrugated produced in 2018 was recovered for recycling and almost all of that material was used to make new products.

Why Recycle?

Recycling corrugated packaging decreases solid waste disposal. Collected fiber is then reused to make new corrugated packaging, allowing for the use of less new raw material. Recycling corrugated packaging also generates revenue for the end-user. Recovered material (called “OCC” or “old corrugated containers”) is a valuable resource to paper mills and manufacturers of new corrugated packaging.

Corrugated Packaging – Extraordinary Recycling Success

Corrugated packaging is an extraordinary recycling success story. Corrugated “cardboard” is recycled more than any other packaging material in the U.S. The industry’s unwavering commitment to increasing recovery has driven these results – demonstrated in its sponsorship of educational programs reaching schools, communities, packaging professionals and buyers, and retailers.

Click here for a PDF of the infographic.


How Corrugated Recycling Works

Businesses, retailers and consumers at home collect and return their used corrugated containers to be recycled into new ones. While almost everyone contributes to corrugated’s recycling success, fewer people may know where those boxes go from the collection point, or how they are processed to produce new corrugated material. Here’s how corrugated is recycled:

Click here for a full pdf from the Fibre Box Handbook of the corrugated recycling process.


The Corrugated Recycles Symbol


The Corrugated Recycles symbol can be used worldwide as a cue to box users that the package can and should be recycled. There is no cost or registration process to use the symbol. Use of the symbol on corrugated packaging is strongly supported and encouraged as long as there are no national or local laws or regulations prohibiting its use. Click here for usage guidelines and/or to request high resolution images.

Source: Fibre Box Association

 Corrugated is a Renewable Resource

Corrugated packaging is made from a renewable resource: trees! Environmentally responsible, recyclable and compostable.

Facts on the renewability of corrugated packaging below:

  • 96 percent of corrugated boxes are made with material supplied by certified fiber sourcing programs such as Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and American Tree Farm System (ATFS). Program participants are committed to sustainable forestry in their own forests, and are required to encourage their suppliers to practice sustainable forestry.

  • There are more trees on U.S. forestland today than there were 100 years ago. Some 2 million acres of trees are planted each year, and tree growth is currently double that of annual removals. (American Forest & Paper Association’s (AF&PA) 2016 Sustainability Report)

  • The forest products industry plants 1.7 million new trees every day, contributing to the long-term viability of North American forests, preserving wildlife habitats, sequestering carbon dioxide and offsetting greenhouse gas emissions. (SFI)

  • Today, the United States has 20 percent more trees than it did on the first Earth Day celebration more than 40 years ago.

  • 66.7 percent of the energy needs at U.S. pulp and paper mills is provided by biomass and renewable fuels, on average, in 2016. (AF&PA 2018 Sustainability Report.)

  • Forest products facilities produce 70 percent of the renewable biomass energy used by the entire manufacturing sector.

Forest Certification

AF&PA white paper on Sustainable Forestry and Certification Programs in the United States provides an overview of sustainable forestry and forest certification programs in the United States. It is intended to serve as a general reference document, providing third-party factual information for forest product company employees, customers, the general public and other interested stakeholders. Click here for a white paper on sustainable forestry and certification programs in the United States.

Source: Fibre Box Association

Corrugated: Supply-Chain Hero

Corrugated packaging can be a critical supply-chain efficiency tool for cost-effective product protection from products’ points of origin to their points of purchase and end-use.

corrugated case studies.jpg

Case Studies

Case studies have proven corrugated’s performance and cost advantages in the produce and case-ready meat supply chains. Cost sensitivity factors have been analyzed to assess corrugated’s advantages over other transport packaging alternatives in different product transport scenarios.

In case after case, corrugated proves itself a valuable supply-chain partner for suppliers and retailers aiming to maximize efficiency and minimize costs. Studies compared costs for transporting onions, strawberries, tomatoes, apples, broccoli, citrus, grapes and watermelon. See more information on the case studies below:

Economic Analysis with Full Disclosure

Full Disclosure software presents the whole truth about corrugated shipping containers and plastic crates. The Full Disclosure software package was developed by the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) and the Fibre Box Association (FBA) to provide package buyers and users with an objective and systematic analysis of shipping container alternatives. The Full Disclosure software provides corrugated box users with an objective comparison of RPCs and corrugated containers without exaggeration or incomplete information. Full Disclosure accurately reflects users’ precise assumptions to create a cost comparison that is uniquely their own.

Full Disclosure:

  • Allows users to prepare sophisticated cost models comparing the system-wide economics with each packaging choice.

  • Is convincing. Results are based on the customer’s own hard information and assumptions.

  • Shows which shipping container system offers the best overall economics and lowest total costs.

  • Solves problems. The box manufacturer has a better understanding of its customer’s shipping container problems and is better equipped to solve them.

  • Protects the customerFull Disclosure shows the customer the complete impact of switching container systems and provides all the information needed to decide on the best and lowest-cost solution.

  • Plays hard but fairFull Disclosure is impartial. Experience shows that corrugated is typically the most cost-effective shipping container. However, if there is a more effective alternative, the software will show it.

See for yourself. The corrugated packaging industry has worked long and hard to make its shipping containers the most effective and cost-competitive. With Full Disclosure, you can see this for yourself, using your own information. Contact your box supplier to arrange for Full Disclosure cost analysis, or call the Fibre Box Association (847) 364-9600.

In case after case, corrugated proves itself a valuable supply-chain partner for suppliers and retailers aiming to maximize efficiency and minimize costs.

Corrugated Common Footprint

The Corrugated Common Footprint (CCF) for Produce was developed by the Fibre Box Association in 1999 to help retail grocers optimize efficiency in their supply chains. CCF containers are modular, with two footprint options (half-size, or 10-down, and full-size, or 5-down) that feature interstacking tabs and receptacle to help assure stability even for mixed pallet loads.

The Common Footprint container offers a wide variety of benefits that are attractive to growers, shippers, retailers and distributors, and have made it an increasingly popular alternative to RPCs. More information on the Common Footprint can be found in the Fibre Box Handbook, available for purchase here.

Corrugated for Case-Ready Meat

In the early 2000’s, a new trend emerged in the grocery industry adventing case-ready meat merchandising in stores. In 2003, the corrugated industry was the first to market a solution for this new segment introducing a packaging system for case-ready meat packaging, the Corrugated Modular Systems for Case-Ready Meat. The modularity system offers two parallel footprints and standards: a 5-down (full-size), and a 6-down-long (full-size).

Source: Fibre Box Association