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Progress Continues in Replacing Waxed Corrugated Boxes

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The Corrugated Packaging Alliance, Itasca, Ill., USA, reports that a new study shows continued progress in the replacement of traditional wax coatings on corrugated boxes. Since the introduction of the corrugated industry’s recyclability protocol in 2005, use of wax has steadily dropped off. In 2016, the corrugated industry shipped less than 10 billion sq. ft. of waxed boxes, just 2.5% of total shipments.

Wax coatings on boxes have been traditionally used as a moisture barrier to preserve the strength of a corrugated container holding wet or iced products such as fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry, and seafood.  

By developing and using wax alternatives, the industry continues to increase the amount of recyclable corrugated packaging: 
  • In 2016, the corrugated industry shipped 12.4 billion sq. ft. of boxes using recyclable wax alternative coatings. That’s 849%-plus more than the 1.3 billion sq. ft. shipped when first measured in 2002.
  • Progress has been made in replacing all types of wax treated boxes (cascaded, impregnated, and curtain-coated) with recyclable treated boxes.
  • 51 recyclable wax alternatives have passed certification testing for repulpability and recyclability and have been registered with the Fibre Box Association. 
The recovery rate for old corrugated containers (OCC) has been on a steady climb, reaching a record 93% in 2016. Today, more corrugated packaging is recovered for recycling than any other packaging material, primarily due to tremendous recovery efforts at supermarkets and retail collection where OCC is baled, then sold to generate substantial revenue and to improve store profitability. 

Dennis Colley, executive director of the Corrugated Packaging Alliance, said that "corrugated is the most reliable, cost-effective, and sustainable package available for transporting most products, including those requiring moisture protection such as fresh produce. Even those boxes can be made with recyclable materials. The continuous decrease in wax coatings means that renewable, recyclable corrugated can be used for even the most demanding applications."

More information about recyclable wax alternatives, including a fact sheet, is available online.
The Corrugated Packaging Alliance (CPA) is a corrugated industry initiative, jointly sponsored by the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), AICC – The Independent Packaging Association, the Fibre Box Association (FBA), and TAPPI. Its mission is to foster growth and profitability of corrugated in applications where it can be demonstrated, based on credible and persuasive evidence, that corrugated should be the packaging material of choice. 


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