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Corrugated Packaging Getting Consistently Greener

The electronic industry may, at times, take packaging for granted. However, poor-quality boxes result in damaged products. Meanwhile, using more packaging is a poor choice for the planet.

A recent peer-reviewed study, commissioned by the Corrugated Packaging Alliance (CPA) and conducted by the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement (NCASI), finds that corrugated materials makers are scoring high in terms of reducing its environmental impact. Although aimed at the produce market, it brings up some interesting questions for the electronics industry around packaging.

Some stats:

  • The corrugated industry has reduced its greenhouse gas (GHD) emissions by 32% between 2006 and 2010.
  • The effect of nutrient releases on receiving water and soil decreased by 22% during the same period.
  • The effect of particulate matter emissions decreased by 14% in that timeframe.
  • The recovery rate for old corrugated containers (OCC) increased from 72% in 2006 to 85% in 2010

“We're very pleased about our reduced greenhouse gas emissions and overall environmental impact reductions, driven by our industry's historic commitment to continuous improvement and environmental stewardship,” said Dennis Colley, executive director of the CPA, in a press release.

The life cycle analysis (LCA) examined effects on seven environmental impact indicators: global warming potential (greenhouse gas emissions), eutrophication, acidification, smog, ozone depletion, respiratory effects, and fossil fuel depletion. It also considered four inventory indicators: water use, water consumption, renewable energy demand, and non-renewable energy demand.

The infographic below outlines the highlights of the study. Let us know your thoughts on how the electronics industry should be addressing the packaging industry? Where do you think corrugated fits in?

— Hailey Lynne McKeefry, Editor in Chief, EBN Circle me on Google+ Follow me on Twitter Visit my LinkedIn page Friend me on Facebook

27 comments on “Corrugated Packaging Getting Consistently Greener

  1. Susan Fourtané
    September 5, 2014

    Corrugated packaging is definitely a great choice for as many uses as possible. The more plastic that can be avoided in packaging the better. 

    -Susan

  2. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    September 5, 2014

    This seemed like a double win to me. First, we are using more cardboard, which is certainly as you said better than plastic, but the cardboard is also getting more environmentally friendly.

  3. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    September 5, 2014

    Not too long ago, i was at a conference about the problem of counterfeiting in the electronics indstury. I learned something that i hadnt' known: that coutnerfeit packaging is a big problem. Vendors are sold boxes (some corrugated cardboard) and they are promised a certain thickness and the actual boxes don't meet the promised specs. In shipping, the delicate electronics inside are damaged. I wonder if this makes paper-based packaging more suspect in our industry. Any thoughts?

  4. _hm
    September 6, 2014

    I love packaging from Digikey. It uses some special word for that and it has nice little note inside packaging. Good work at Digikey.

     

  5. Susan Fourtané
    September 7, 2014

    Welcome back, Hailey! 🙂 

    Yes, cardboard getting more environmentally friendly is wonderful in helping packing and the environment in many ways. 

    -Susan 

  6. Susan Fourtané
    September 7, 2014

    _hm, 

    A word for packaging? What word and note? :/ 

    -Susan

  7. SP
    September 8, 2014

    If packaging can be made geener especially the material used inside the box it will make so much environment friendly. Even a small component that get shipped uses lot of packing material. So it will definitely make sense. And sooner or later everything has to get greener. Recycling is the key.

  8. FLYINGSCOT
    September 8, 2014

    These stats are very impressive.  I wish other industries were as proactive and successful in reducing waste and improving efficiency.  The improvements over the reported timeframe were quite encouraging.

  9. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    September 8, 2014

    Thanks, Susan. It's good to be back.

  10. Susan Fourtané
    September 9, 2014

    It's good to see you back. 🙂 

    -Susan

  11. _hm
    September 9, 2014

    @Susan: Word is Geami. http://www.geami.com.

    Geami  is a hybrid word originating from the combination of the Greek word Geo for earth and the Latin word Ami for Friend.

  12. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    September 9, 2014

    @Flyingscott, I agree…both impressive and worthy of emulation. The electronics industry could make a real difference by moving in this direction.

  13. Daniel
    September 10, 2014

    Hailey, welcome back to the community. Hope your health is fine.

  14. Daniel
    September 10, 2014

    “The electronic industry may, at times, take packaging for granted. However, poor-quality boxes result in damaged products. Meanwhile, using more packaging is a poor choice for the planet.”

    Hailey, we have to consider it in case to case basis. Package is meant for security of the content, for small and medium things, relatively small packages may be enough. But for glass or brittle items, good package is necessity.

  15. Daniel
    September 10, 2014

    Hailey, now Packaging Engineering is a specialized engineering branch, which entirely deals with how to make secure packing at economical range. Now a day's they are giving more importance to reusable and ecco friendly packing materials.  

  16. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    September 10, 2014

    Thanks, Jacob… Glad to be back!

  17. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    September 10, 2014

    I was speaking to a logistics executive at Avnet recently and he told me about initiatives to provide resuable packaging (from pallets to boxes). He was saying that this is useful mostly with large customers who place regular orders. Otherwise the expense and overhead in tracking and storing packaging is prohibitive. However, it seemed like a move in the right direction.

  18. Daniel
    September 11, 2014

    “Thanks, Jacob… Glad to be back!”

    How is your health

  19. Daniel
    September 11, 2014

    “He was saying that this is useful mostly with large customers who place regular orders. Otherwise the expense and overhead in tracking and storing packaging is prohibitive. However, it seemed like a move in the right direction.”

    Hailey, there are two options; first is reusing the same package for packing other items and the second is bio cycling or re cycling the same to form new packing structure.

  20. Daniel
    September 11, 2014

    “He was saying that this is useful mostly with large customers who place regular orders.”

    Hailey, other option is; if they are a regular customer, they can pack everything into a single container or package.

  21. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    September 11, 2014

    This extends beyond being a packaging issue and extends into logistics. The weight of packaging, the frequency of shipments and other factors also add to fuel consumption which in turn has environmental impact. I think that it is incredibly important to remember that this is a complex issue and that no one approach or aspect will be a panacea. At the same time, it's an important conversation to have.

  22. Daniel
    September 12, 2014

    “This extends beyond being a packaging issue and extends into logistics. The weight of packaging, the frequency of shipments and other factors also add to fuel consumption which in turn has environmental impact.”

    Hailey, is packing comes under logistics. I think logistics will cover only shipment.

  23. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    September 19, 2014

    @Jacob, it hits the logistics function because the right packaging can reduce the weight and size of what needs to be transported. It can change the methods that can be used for shipment. There's definitely a link there.

  24. Eldredge
    September 22, 2014

    @Hailey – I have seen reusable packaging used in tha past, although the driver then was probably the cost of the particular specialized packaging required. If packaging can be reused, it makes a great deal of sense to do so.

  25. Eldredge
    September 22, 2014

    @Hailey – I have seen reusable packaging used in tha past, although the driver then was probably the cost of the particular specialized packaging required. If packaging can be reused, it makes a great deal of sense to do so.

  26. Daniel
    September 23, 2014

    ” it hits the logistics function because the right packaging can reduce the weight and size of what needs to be transported. It can change the methods that can be used for shipment. There's definitely a link there.”

    Hailey, thanks for the clarification. Ok, its a part of the system. 

  27. Susan Fourtané
    September 26, 2014

    _hm, 

    “@Susan: Word is Geami. http://www.geami.com.

    Geami  is a hybrid word originating from the combination of the Greek word Geo for earth and the Latin word Ami for Friend.”

    How nice. Thanks. 🙂 

    -Susan

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