Study Shows Increase In Use of Recyclable Alternatives to Waxed Corrugated in 2010

Oct. 13, 2011 - The Corrugated Packaging Alliance said that a new study on the sustainability of corrugated shows a dramatic, 30 percent increase in the use of recyclable alternatives to waxed corrugated in 2010.

According to the Corrugated Packaging Alliance, every bit of corrugated converted to a recyclable product helps improve the already stellar recovery rate of OCC and bolsters the corrugated industryís sustainability record.

Supermarkets make money recycling corrugated
Corrugated recovery reached a remarkable 85 percent in 2010, continuing to hold its established lead in recycling among all packaging materials. Supermarkets are the leaders in this effort, recovering nearly all of their used corrugated to generate substantial revenue and improve store profitability. Supermarkets are increasing revenues even further and achieving their sustainability goals by requesting recyclable alternatives to waxed containers, so they can recycle even more of their used corrugated. This positive trend will reap more dividends for the entire supply chain as more supermarkets give it a try, and as the new recyclable wax alternatives gain market acceptance.

Recent progress
Commercialized, alternative coatings have recently yielded promising results:

  • In 2010, the corrugated industry shipped 6.4 billion square feet of boxes using recyclable wax alternative coatings. Thatís over 30% more than the 4.9 billion square feet shipped in 2009 and 385% more than when first measured in 2002, dramatically increasing the volume of containers that could be recycled.
  • Progress has been made in replacing all types of wax treated boxes (cascaded, impregnated, curtain-coated) with recyclable treated boxes.
  • 38 recyclable wax alternatives have passed certification testing for repulpability and recyclability and have been registered with the FBA as of July, 2011. Each replaces a wax cascaded, impregnated or surface coating application and allows the container to be marked with the corrugated recycles symbol to indicate its ability to be combined with other OCC.
  • The certified registrations were completed by seven coating suppliers commercially offering solutions in the marketplace and 10 converting companies offering proprietary solutions to their customers.

Why replace wax?
Wax has traditionally been used as a moisture barrier to preserve the strength of a corrugated container holding iced or wet products such as fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry and seafood. Although waxed corrugated has always accounted for a small percentage of the total, annual corrugated volume produced, wax coatings do not dissolve in water, so they cannot easily be recycled.

The development and commercialization of recyclable alternatives helps increase the amount of corrugated packaging that can be successfully recycled. To assure the integrity of recyclability claims, the corrugated industry developed a recyclability standard in 2005 that allows these alternatives to be tested, proven and certified recyclable if they pass the required protocol.

How to tell if a wax alternative is certified recyclable
There are several symbols that indicate the corrugated container can be recycled, such as:

Posters are available for retailers to display in their back rooms and at their balers, to remind associates to watch for the recyclable symbol and separate boxes that can be recycled from those that cannot. This will add additional revenue and assist the store in achieving waste reduction, contributing to the retailerís sustainability goals.

For more information, or for recycling posters, visit: or contact the Corrugated Packaging Alliance at 800.886.5255.

The Corrugated Packaging Alliance ( is a corrugated industry initiative jointly sponsored by the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) (, the Association of Independent Corrugated Converters (AICC) ( and the Fibre Box Association (FBA) (

SOURCE: Corrugated Packaging Alliance