Where Does It All Go?

December 20, 2013 | in Sustainable Packaging

by Jeff Bolin

Research estimates that the packaging industry will be a 530 billion dollar industry by 2014.

And as we grow closer to the Holiday season and everyone is busy ordering and wrapping all of their presents, most of us pay no attention to how the gift was packaged, where it came from, and how will we get rid of all that packaging and wrapping material. Research estimates that the packaging industry will be a $530 billion dollar industry by 2014, so clearly this is big business that touches all of us.

With all the wrapping paper that we will go through in the next few weeks, where does all that end up? Luckily here in the US, paper products are the number one item recycled. Since 2011, 75.4% of all paper products have been recovered as well as 51% of all packaging that is recycled; this is up 2% from 2010. Even though 2% may not seem like much, it is actually an increase of 760,000 tons in just one year. In total, the US recycles about 38 million tons, which is the equivalent of 726 full Titanic’s.

In terms of corrugated packaging, in 2012, the US recovered 91 % (29 million tons) of all corrugated which is an increase of 37% since 1993. This is critical, as 95% of all products shipped in the US are shipped in corrugated packaging. Corrugated is recycled and then re-used again as a corrugated box, which means it has a cradle-to-cradle use – very sustainable. Plus, it takes 70% less energy to produce a corrugated box from recycled materials, than creating from virgin materials.

So this holiday season as everyone is unwrapping all those gifts, be sure to remember the environment and recycle that wrapping paper and those boxes!

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