The average carbon footprint of corrugated packaging is now 746 kg/t, compared to 784 kg/t for the period 2006-08.
It follows a cut of almost 12% in the previous three-year cycle, revealed The European Federation of Corrugated Board Manufacturers (FEFCO’s) European Database for Corrugated Board Life Cycle Studies.
Between 1990 and 2010, the UK papermaking industry also reduced energy use by 42% per tonne of paper made, and emissions of fossil carbon dioxide by 1.6m tonnes.
Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) hailed the latest set of carbon footprint figures as more evidence that the corrugated industry leads the way on environmental matters.
The savings have been achieved through reductions in energy consumption and the industry’s use of recycled materials for the production of new corrugated packaging, which rose from 82% in 2009 to 85% last year across Europe, said CPI.
The majority of corrugated packaging is manufactured from recycled material and where virgin fibre is used, it comes from sustainably managed forests, using softwoods such as pine and spruce, which are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) accredited.
The paper industry is a relatively small user of wood; only around 11% of the wood extracted from the world’s forests is used in paper and pulp production, added the industry group.
Andy Barnetson, CPI Director of Packaging Affairs, said: “These latest figures from FEFCO highlight the huge steps the corrugated industry is taking to protect the environment, through extensive improvements in the manufacturing process.
“Corrugated packaging has superb environmental credentials, and this is being recognised in both the supply chain and by consumers, however, the industry is not complacent.
“The UK corrugated sector is renowned for innovation and will continue to explore ways of reducing the carbon footprint of its products still further.”
Over 80% of all corrugated cardboard boxes are recycled, giving the corrugated industry the best UK recycling rate of all packaging materials, said the group, which counts Ahlstrom, Arjo Wiggins, Billerud, DS Smith and SCA among its members.