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Containerboard Packagers Strike Back at Plastic Crate Company Claims

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In mid-January, Paper Advance (Canada) reported what Bloomberg Business, New York City, N.Y., USA, has now confirmed in its online publication. Based on reports, it seems that, as of the past two weeks, the North American paper packaging industry is serving notice that it will challenge (legally, if necessary) any false and misleading claims about its operations and environmental impact. Case in point: major plastic crate supplier, IFCO.

IFCO is said to be lobbying North American grocery retailers to move away from the traditional corrugated box system of delivering fruit and vegetables. In the course of promoting its plastic crate alternative, IFCO has made various economic and environmental claims. This is its right. But IFCO (and others) also have a responsibility to be able to substantiate any such public claims when challenged.

Among the most pernicious of IFCO's purported claims were that "most (corrugated) boxes" were disposed of in landfills, and that only "a small percentage of used boxes (were) recycled." These claims were so patently false (certainly to the corrugated industry) that for a while they served as a great example of IFCO's lack of credibility on this issue, the tow news services reported.

But now the kid gloves have come off. The U.S.-based Fiber Box Association (FBA) recently sent a "cease and desist" letter to IFCO demanding documentation to substantiate its claims, or removal of them from the IFCO website. Within 24 hr. of IFCO receiving the letter, the untrue statements reportedly had been removed. "Let's use this (example) as a reminder," said FBA President/CEO Dennis Colley, "to be fact-based; to have data to back up our claims; and to challenge those who don't."

For the record, some 89% of US corrugated boxes were recovered for recycling in the most recent data year. PPEC estimates the Canadian rate at about 85%. In both countries, most grocery stores recover nearly all of their corrugated boxes in backroom balers. The baled material is then sold to generate revenue before being recycled back into new corrugated boxes.
 

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