Corrugated Life Cycle Assessment Shows Significant Environmental Progress

Jun 09, 2014

 By Gretchen Spear
 Director, Packaging & Government Affairs

 The Corrugated Packaging Alliance (CPA) recently released a new 
 U.S. corrugated industry life cycle assessment (LCA) study.  The
 peer-reviewed study was conducted by the National Council for Air
 and Stream Improvement (NCASI).  

The new research shows a significant 32 percent reduction per unit in the corrugated industry’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions between 2006 and 2010. The reduction in GHG emissions is attributed primarily to the increased recovery for recycling of old corrugated containers (OCC)—from 72 percent in 2006 to 85 percent in 2010. As more OCC is recovered, less goes to landfills, thereby reducing methane emissions. Containerboard mills also helped reduce GHG emissions by decreasing the overall use of fossil fuels and switching to less carbon-intensive fuels, such as natural gas.  

Additionally, the industry improved in other environmental impact indicators. Effects of nutrient releases on waters and soils (eutrophication) decreased by 22 percent, and effects of particulate matter emissions (respiratory effects) decreased by 14 percent.

A detailed LCA summary report and frequently asked questions are available on the CPA's corrugated.org website.

CPA members include the American Forest & Paper Association, the Association of Independent Corrugated Converters, Fibre Box Association and TAPPI.