Corrugated Recycling: Thinking about the box

November 19, 2007

The Corrugated Packaging Alliance (CPA) created this symbol to show that the marked corrugated material is recyclable, not that it’s been recycled yet – that’s up to you. The corrugated recycling symbol is available in three versions. Print ready copies are available too, and you can add appropriate text.

OK, so it’s a good thing to make packaging out of recyclable materials. Probably. But what about reusable packaging? What is the cost of collecting and moving packaging material to a recycling facility, then recycling it, and then redistributing the results? … as compared to the cost of, say, folding the packaging up and returning it to the place it came from for reuse? This would seem to work particularly well where delivery vehicles take packaged goods one way and return with empty packaging.

Really, I have no idea about the answer to this. (One day?) However, I don’t see the need for recyclable packaging going away for a long time yet, so anything that helps could be a good idea.

As for the symbol… I’m unconvinced. If I saw it, would I correctly think it’s for recycling? – rather than about recycled – or would I need the explanation in print too? Couldn’t they have just used the standard recycling symbol, with an extra symbol in the middle or underneath?

This entry is part of the Infomancy Eco-Symbols Series.

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2 Responses to “Corrugated Recycling: Thinking about the box”

  1. Peter Manson Says:

    Reusable packaging is in common use in some industries, such as removal firms, but even the best designed package tends to lose structural integrity after being shipped more than once and flattened and reconstructed, and there’s a tendency to start sticking packing tape on, which makes the whole thing less eco-friendly. If packaging fails and contents are lost or damaged that is a significant cost (both financially and enviromentally as contents must be replaced and re-shipped) so in many cases that is too much of a risk.

    Added to that is the difficulty of making sure old labels etc are obscured to avoid risk of mis-direction, and the extra resource at both ends of the delivery as packaging must be opened more carefully, deconstructed, loaded and unloaded, and sorted for quality. All that adds significant cost to a transport business where margins are often squeezed.

    So, a good concept, but often just not viable.

  2. infomancie Says:

    Indeed. And sometimes incineration is the best option, with current technologies, landfill issues and market conditions.


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