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Winfried Muehling

Marketing & Communications Director, Pro Carton

Jon Clark

General Manager, BPIF Cartons

Science has spoken. There is no ‘one size fits all’ for all packaging requirements. Reuse is not better just because it ‘feels’ better.

In January 2021, the European Paper Packaging Alliance (EPPA) appointed Ramboll to conduct a comparative Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study between a paperboard single-use dishes system and equivalent multiple-use dishes in Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs). The study’s overarching conclusion was that, contrary to common perceptions, single-use packaging and tableware have lower environmental impacts than reusable packaging.

Single-use versus reusable packaging 

The following year, another Ramboll-conducted LCAs study, commissioned by FEFCO, found that the single-use corrugated board system, compared with reusable plastic packaging, is more beneficial in 10 out of 15 environmental impact categories, further dispelling the myths of the reuse vs single-use debate.

We must enforce objectivity for example with independent LCA studies to realistically simulate the end-of-life impact of different packaging solutions in different usage occasions. Not to forget consistent reality checks including consumer experience and preference.

Fibre-based packaging — a single-use packaging medium — is leading the way in closing the loop on the packaging circular economy.

Circularity leadership of fibre-based packaging 

On 2nd March, Pro Carton revealed authoritative, new research proving that the European carton and cartonboard industry has succeeded in reducing its carbon footprint by 24% since 2018. The newly measured European industry average for the carbon footprint of cartons measured 249 kgCO2e cradle-to-grave and 148 kgCO2e cradle-to-gate per tonne of carton. The staggering double-digit reduction in CO2 was achieved by improving resource efficiency during the production process. It has also been bolstered by significant investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy sources at European cartonboard mills and converting operations since 2018.

What’s more, the raw materials that arrive at the mills derive from sustainably managed forests. More than 90% of the wood fibres used in the European paper and board industry originate from EU woodland, of which more than 78% are sourced from sustainably managed and certified forests. Europe’s forests are growing by an area equivalent to 1,500 football pitches every day, which is attributed to sustainable forest management.

Fibre-based packaging — a single-use packaging medium — is leading the way when it comes to closing the loop on the packaging circular economy. We are confident that key stakeholders, from consumers and brand owners to industry bodies and legislators, will continue to acknowledge fibre-based packaging as the present and future of sustainable packaging. We are proud to be circularity leaders, and we are proud to be single-use.

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