GreenBlue’s Design for Recovery Guidelines for Paper Packaging was written to connect packaging designers with available recovery options in order to encourage the recycling or composting of paper packaging. The guidelines, part of a suite of reports covering the design of recyclable and compostable packaging, cover all fiber-based packaging, including both wood fiber and non-wood fiber paper. It does not, however, provide instruction on the closely related issue of incorporating recycled content into paper packaging, nor does it cover non-packaging types of paper, such as newsprint or office paper.
Natural plant fibers, such as papyrus, bark, cotton, straw, and bamboo, have been used to make paper for both writing and packaging purposes for thousands of years. Although the technology to process and use wood fiber has only existed since the mid-1800’s, trees are the most economical and abundant source material available today, and therefore wood fiber dominates the global paper industry. Paper is found throughout everyday life: for writing and printing, packaging and wrapping, hygiene and health care, and even structural and construction uses. From a packaging perspective, paper is made from a renewable resource and is both recyclable and compostable. It can provide strength options from delicate tissue to hardy corrugated board, be formed into a variety of shapes, and easily carry printed graphics.
Paper packaging is too valuable a resource to waste. Increasing the recyclability and compostability of paper packaging means that it is more likely to be effectively recovered and utilized in biological and/or industrial closed-loop cycles—one measure of sustainable packaging. Designers play a critical role in the ultimate recovery of their packaging. While there is no question that packaging must be designed to meet strict performance, safety, and cost criteria, designers can elevate recyclability to the same level of importance within their companies. An effective closed-loop system starts with great design.
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