Corrugated Industry Approves Recyclability Standards

INDIANAPOLIS -- The corrugated packaging industry has ratified a new, voluntary standard establishing repulpability and recyclability requirements for containers that have been treated for water and water vapor protection, such as wax alternatives.

The standard allows boxes to be certified, and marked as recyclable for easy identification, when the treatment material has passed a testing protocol assuring acceptability by the recyclers of old corrugated containers (OCC).

The new standard was first introduced as a draft for public comment in February 2005. Input was received, considered, and responded to over the ensuing months, and changes were made where appropriate. A joint committee that included box manufacturers, paper mill operators and recycled fiber users developed the standard.

The committee considered the present state of supply chain issues, including retailer calls for the elimination of nonrecyclable (usually waxed) containers, and the impacts on the collection and use of treated corrugated in mill systems.

The joint committee's work was coordinated by the Corrugated Packaging Alliance (CPA). Executive director Dwight Schmidt said: "The passage of this new standard marks a tremendous milestone in the corrugated industry's long-term commitment to meet the needs of retailers and other end-users. Resolving recyclability issues for water protection treatments has been a high priority for the industry for many years, but an elusive goal due to the complexity of processes involved."

For the first time, notes Schmidt, wax alternatives can be tested, certified, and clearly identified as recyclable, providing retailers with the assurance they need to begin specifying, collecting, and recycling treated boxes in their regular OCC recycling stream.

"That means retailers receiving certified boxes can earn more revenue from recovered OCC and spend less on disposal -- fulfilling the wishes they have long expressed," said Schmidt. "Great success has been achieved in the recovery of OCC, which had a recovery rate of 73 percent in 2004, more than any other packaging material. The new recycling standard for treated materials will enable the industry to recover even more OCC for recycling."

The new certification symbols are modified versions of the international "Corrugated Recycles" symbol, endorsed by the International Corrugated Case Association (ICCA), for reliable worldwide identification of recyclable materials. Testing may be done at any capable laboratory able to certify that it has the equipment to carry out the testing required by the protocol.

The entire standard and a list of currently qualified testing facilities may be viewed at
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