Canadian Manufacturing

There’s more to corrugated boxes than meets the eye…just ask John Mullinder

The Executive Director of the Paper and Paperboard Packaging Environmental Council takes aim at some common misconceptions regarding the environmental impact of corrugated boxes


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Yes, we know that packaging is evil and that it should be legislated out of existence.

But sometimes those ignorant throw-away lines about packaging waste really do rankle and must be corrected.

Case in point: a recent article by Eric Reguly in the Globe and Mail newspaper.

In his beef with Amazon Prime’s home-delivery service, Reguly ignorantly sideswipes the humble corrugated box that delivers the goods (Beyond Zuckerberg, it’s time to hold Bezos to account, too).

The used boxes that Reguly complains about are certainly not “thrown away.” In fact, they form the backbone of one of the world’s great commodity trades; are an export earner for Canada, and they provide the feedstock for most of the new boxes made in this country.

Yes, most corrugated boxes made in Canada are 100 per cent recycled content, primarily formed by recycling those very same used boxes again and again.

We are currently recovering about 85 per cent of the corrugated boxes used in Canada. And in Ontario’s Blue Box system, have achieved an amazing 98 per cent recovery rate, according to Stewardship Ontario. That is pretty impressive.

And this recovery is not “mostly at taxpayer’s expense”, as Reguly falsely claims.

In British Columbia and Quebec, it is industry that pays 100 per cent of the net cost for residential (Blue Box) recovery. Ontario, which is currently at 50 per cent industry-pay, is headed to 100 per cent too. In Saskatchewan and Manitoba, industry pays 75 per cent and 80 per cent respectively.

Glib and ignorant throw away lines perhaps, but not throw away boxes.

John Mullinder is the Executive Director of the Paper and Paperboard Packaging Environmental Council, and organization in Brampton Ont. that lobbies governments on behalf of the Canadian paper packaging industry. This op-ed originally was posted on the PPEC website, titled Fighting media ignorance (battle # 5,041).


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