Myth: We use too much packaging
Fact: Packaging manufacturers are already legally required to ensure that they do not use more packaging than is necessary.
It is important to understand the basic functions of packaging in all its forms – plastics, tins, glass and corrugated packaging (cardboard).
Its main purpose is to protect goods whilst in transit, storage and distribution. It prevents waste through breakage, spoilage and contamination, and extends product shelf life. A secondary purpose is to provide consumer information about the product and act as a means of brand differentiation. As a result of efficient packaging, product damage in transit remains below 5% in the developed world. In the developing world, wastage rates can be as high as 30% INCPEN1. You may see a number of layers of packaging around a product and think of it as excessive. However, each layer has a function with specific properties to help protect its contents from damage.
Corrugated packaging is one of the largest sectors within the Packaging Industry. In the UK alone, it accounts for almost 30% of all packaging used and remains the most commonly used packaging material The Packaging Federation. The corrugated sector is vitally important to manufacturing, protecting around 75% of the UK’s packaged goods in transit.
Corrugated packaging has an excellent environmental record. On average, UK manufactured corrugated boxes contain 76% recycled fibre which can be from old corrugated boxes or cartons. Once used, corrugated packaging is easy to recycle. In the UK and Europe, the collection of used corrugated packaging is hugely successful – over 80% is collected for recycling. This superb recycling rate prevents an area of board the size of Greater London from going to landfill every four months.
Due to advances in technology, the Corrugated Packaging Industry has managed to significantly reduce the weight of its products whilst retaining their strength. Improvements in product design now mean that space utilisation in transport has been significantly improved – so reducing the number of lorries on the road.