Less is Not Always More
COMPASS (Comparable Packaging Assessment), developed by SPC
We hear a lot about the weight of a product's package as if it were the sole criterion for determining sustainability. While less weight certainly helps reduce freight costs …
But the real facts are that in 2011, a record 66.8% of the paperboard packaging waste generated by Americans in 2011 was recycled (AF&PA).
- Distribution is only one of the six phases in the life cycle of a sustainable package.
- Paper mill wood waste and byproducts are converted into energy, supplying 2/3 of the energy required to produce paperboard. (Technical Association of the Pulp & Paper Industry)
- When plastic's bulk is considered, less weight may not even mean less space in a landfill.
Facts from the 2010 EPA report (published in 2012):
- Over 30 millons of paperboard and corrugated packaging were recycled.
- From 1990, the amount of paper sent to landfills has decreased by 55%.
- 54% of all municipal solid waste was dumped into landfills.
- Since 1990, paper and paperboard discarded into the waste stream as a percentage of the total has been cut in half.
- In the same period, plastic as a percent of the total in the waste stream has almost doubled.
- 71.3% of all paper-based packaging was recovered; only 13.5% for plastic.
Why such a difference? Paperboard is readily and easily recycled. But there are 7 major grades of plastic, some of which are difficult to recycle and most cannot be intermixed. The issues regarding the use and re-use of plastic packaging are complex.