By Donna Harman
President & CEO
The Responsible Package: Promoting the Benefits of Paper and Paper-based Packaging
When it comes to The Responsible Package, our industry’s youth education program designed to highlight paper-based packaging solutions, five looks like a lucky number! AF&PA recently began its fifth year as a joint sponsor of the initiative that in 2017 aims to educate 150,000 fifth graders and their families about the value of paperboard, corrugated cardboard and paper bag products.
We’re proud to play a role in raising awareness about responsible consumer behavior regarding paper-based packaging and educating young students that paper-based packaging is a responsible choice. And we firmly believe that the program’s interactive education materials, now distributed to more than 1,100 schools in 14 states, are an avenue to that goal.
Opening the door to knowledge about recycling, science, the environment and math through curricula that supports Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) programs and National Science Education Standards holds value today and tomorrow. The Responsible Package – accessible to everyone at the newly redesigned website www.theresponsiblepackage.com – exposes children to exciting in-class lessons and materials they can take home to their families.
Let’s take a closer look at the core aspects of the program.
Promoting Paper-Based Packaging
The Responsible Package reveals the ubiquitous nature of paper-based packaging. Students learn to recognize types of packaging they may not have noticed before. They also observe how versatile paper-based packaging is and how it is used to transport, protect and preserve items used every day.
Through the program’s youth education materials, students discover ways to make positive changes to increase use of paper-based packaging, boost recycling and reuse of paper and paper-based packaging at school and at home.
A Renewable Resource
The Responsible Package explains that paper and paper-based products are made from a renewable resource – tree farmers plant, grow, harvest, and replant trees just like farmers who grow other agricultural crops.
Students learn that by using paper and paper-based packaging, they are supporting tree farmers and giving them a reason to continue to grow trees on nearly 500 million acres of working forests in the U.S. – nearly two-thirds of America’s forests.
Raising Recycling Awareness
Advocating best recycling practices is an important component of The Responsible Package.
Our industry nurtures an environment where the rate of paper recovery continually increases. In 2014, 96 percent of the U.S. population had access to curbside and/or drop-off paper recycling services. The U.S. paper recovery has nearly doubled since 1990 and has exceeded 63 percent for the past eight years. Through the industry’s Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 initiative, AF&PA members have pledged to increase paper recovery for recycling to exceed 70 percent by year 2020.
Ongoing paper recovery success is possible thanks to the millions of Americans who recycle at home, work and school every day. To prepare the next generation of recyclers, The Responsible Package educates students and their families on the types of paper-based packaging that are recyclable and encourages them to place clean and dry paper products in their recycling bins. And, the Family Recycling Pledge allows families to demonstrate commitment to improved recycling practices in their households.
Finally, students are encouraged to get creative and explore ways to reuse paper and paper-based packaging. The options are nearly endless – from practical storage solutions to science projects to arts and crafts.
In 2016, one hundred percent of participating teachers and 95 percent of participating students reported that they enjoyed learning from the materials. We thank our partners in The Responsible Package – the Independent Packaging Association (AICC), the Corrugated Packaging Alliance (CPA), the Fibre Box Association (FBA), the Paper Shipping Sack Manufacturers’ Association (PSSMA), the Renewable Bag Council (RBC), and TAPPI – and look forward to building on this success for five more years and beyond.