The industry-funded research, promotion and information program was issued for comment by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The proposal was submitted to the USDA by the Paper and Paper-Based Packaging Panel, a group of 14 industry members formed in May 2010 to oversee development of the program.
It would establish a marketing and education program covering the printing and writing, kraft, containerboard, and paperboard segments. Carbonless papers and newsprint would not be included.
The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) commended the USDA for issuing the proposed for public comment.
AF&PA data shows that containerboard markets have remained fairly steady in declining just 2% between 2000 and 2010, while nondurable consumer goods, which accounts for most of the demand for corrugated boxes, rose 1%.
Paperboard is facing competition from plastics, foils and glass and between 2000 and 2010, US markets contracted 10% as compared with a fairly stable demand (1% increase) for nondurable consumer goods.
"We need to present consumers with the facts of the renewable and recyclable nature of our products to allow them to make informed decisions, and today's actions by USDA take us one step closer," said AF&PA Board Chairman Alexander Toeldte, president and CEO of Boise, Inc.
35 cents per share
The program will be funded through an assessment of 35 cents per short ton on companies producing or importing 100,000 tons or more annually. Small producers and importers, along with converters, will not be assessed but will benefit from the promotion program.
It will be administered by a 12-person board of directors, which will highlight the renewability, reusability and recyclability of paper and paper-based packaging.
A referendum would be held among eligible domestic producers and importers prior to the program going into effect.
AF&PA President and CEO Donna Harman said: “The health and well-being of our industry, our supply chain, and the communities in which we operate will benefit from this program. Consumer education and information will help secure the future of the 1.4 million jobs affected by this proposal."
Comments must be received on the proposal published this week in the Federal Register by 4 March 2013.