Packaging Advice

The facts about recycling paper packaging

6 mins

Recycled paper is one of the most important raw materials, representing over 70% of the fibre used to make new paper products.

Around 35% of cut down trees are used to make paper - that means a whopping 160,000km2 of forest are chopped down each year. As trees are a renewable source, only 9% of trees used for paper originated from ancient forests. Recycling and re-using paper can significantly reduce the amount of material going to landfill and lowers the demand for trees so fewer will need to be planted. This is why it’s good practice to re-use and recycle as much as possible.

In this article, we will explore the facts and benefits of recycling paper materials and why it is so important to preserve our planets resources as much as we can.

A brief look at the history of recycling paper 

Recycling paper is no new concept, recycling started over 100 years ago when cotton rags were picked for papermaking. The first recorded paper recycling was in Japan during the Heian Period where the Japanese Imperial Court suffered a decline which led to paper production falling out of control. As private estate owners began building their own paper mills, the idea of using wastepaper begun in order to maximise output and conserve materials.

In World War II, paper recycling became one of the many nationwide campaigns that would help to fund war efforts. In fact, the first curbside collections of paper began in the 1960s in the States and Missouri got its first curbside paper recycling bin in 1974 which was dubbed “the tree saver!” – an accurate name!  

That brings us to our next point.

Why should you recycle paper packaging?

Recycling paper has multiple benefits for the environment. One ton of recycled paper conserves more than just a natural resource, it will save 7000 gallons of water, 463 gallons of oil, and 17 trees in the process – if that doesn’t convince you, we don’t know what will!

But here are some other reasons why you should use recycled paper materials including corrugated cardboard, packaging fillers, and other paper packaging resources:

  • Reduce Landfill size: 40% of all waste going to landfills is paper. Cutting down on paper waste will decrease the size of the landfills.
  • Minimise pollution: Recycled paper requires up to 50% less energy to craft, the process of recycling results in 74% less air pollution and 34% less water pollution.
  • Paper can be repurposed: By re-using paper when recycled, you can be making life a lot easier. For example, corrugated cardboard can be created into new cardboard, or as strong protection inside packaging, or it could be used as something else entirely like cereal boxes.

By more recycling taking place, the paper-cardboard industry could be supplied with almost 69% of the resources it needs, which will be greatly appreciated especially in these times plagued by packaging shortages.

Since the pandemic, prices of wastepaper have steadily climbed up as there has been increased demand on top of the severe lack of supply. The increase in online shopping led to more paper packaging being found at home addresses, and with recycling bins having everything in it and only being collected bi-weekly, it costs more and takes much longer for paper waste to find its way back to the mills.

paper void fill

What are the downfalls of recycling paper?

While using recycled paper instead of virgin materials is definitely better, there are also downsides to using recycled paper. It should be said that while plastic has the bad rep, it can actually be more durable and recycled more times than paper. Each time paper gets recycled, the recycled fibres lose strength and the input of virgin fibre is essential to maintain the strength of the recycled cardboard. Therefore, when recycling paper its important to remember that it can only be recycled a handful of times as the fibres become shorter with each recycle.


Corrugate recycling in the UK

Corrugated packaging remains the most commonly used packaging material in the UK as it is such a versatile material. Corrugate meets the demands of flexibility and efficiency, it’s reliable and simple so suppliers can provide as few or as many boxes as needed (provided there are no shortages of course!) Corrugated cardboard can also be made to suit the rapidly changing demands of the supply chain.

With a recycling rate of over 80%, corrugate has the best UK recycling record over any other packaging material. The recycling rate saves an area the size of Greater London from landfill every four months – just to give an idea of how much!

On average, corrugated boxes in particular already contain 76% recycled material with many boxes made from 100% recycled material. There is no need to send corrugated packaging to landfill as in the UK a wide range of alternative disposal methods are available including recycling, composting, and incineration with energy recovery. (Although it is always better to recycle paper and board products to prolong the life of the fibres and make best use of them!)

With that said, there is no wonder why corrugated materials are so popular and always in such high demand – especially as of late with more and more people and businesses becoming concerned about their environmental impact. It is expected that the demand for paper is likely to double by 2030.

Recycled paper-based packaging from Swiftpak

With the plastic tax bill drawing nearer where plastic packaging that contains less than 30% recycled materials will incur a tax penalty, it’s more important than ever to consider switching to more sustainable options.

At Swiftpak we recommend:

  • PaperPlus Track Fanfold Paper: Almost any protective packaging problem can be solved efficiently with paper padding. Our PaperPlus Track can be used on the TOPPTRACK machine and is 100% recycled paper.
  • PaperPlus Papillon: PaperPlus Papillon has 100% recycled content and will keep your products protected. It also comes in a range of colours to choose from.
  • Double Wall Cartons: Our tough, heavy duty double wall boxes offer excellent stacking strength and contain at least 80% recycled content.

You can also offset your paper packaging waste by planting trees within your Swiftpak account area and make a real impact on atmospheric CO2 levels. Feel free to contact our packaging experts today to find the optimal solution for your business and they will be happy to help you.

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