Packaging / Operations / Sustainability

Corrugated recovery hits 91%, is most-recycled packaging material

The Corrugated Packaging Alliance, Elk Grove Village, Ill., recovery for recycling has increased steadily since 1993, when 54.5% of old corrugated containers (OCC) was recycled. Recovery is also helped by the widespread access to community paper and paper-based packaging recycling programs. According to an American Forest & Paper Association’s (AF&PA) community survey, 87% (268 million) of the U.S. population has access to curbside or drop-off recycling programs.

Most OCC is used to make new paper products. Of the 91% of corrugated recovered in 2012, more than half was used to make new container board (50.1%). An additional 12% was used to make recycled paperboard and more than 34% was exported.

Corrugated and the other paper-based packaging industries set the standard for recovery. According to the most recent data available from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report “Municipal Solid Waste in the United States; 2010 Facts and Figures,” the corrugated and paper-based packaging industries set the standard for recovering products from the solid waste management stream.

The data drawn from the EPA report shows that corrugated and paper-based packaging have the highest recovery rates among several major packaging materials, at 85% and 71.3%, respectively. Aluminum (35.8%), glass (33.4%) and plastics (13.5%) have much lower recovery rates.

The corrugated industry continues to support the increased OCC recovery for recycling by:

  • Modernizing equipment and technology, so that OCC can be used at the manufacturing facilities.
  • Supporting business, community and school recycling programs.
  • Developing a re-pulpability/recyclability standard protocol for corrugated boxes treated for moisture resistance.

The Corrugated Packaging Alliance (CPA) is a corrugated industry initiative, jointly sponsored by the AF&PA, the Association of Independent Corrugated Converters (AICC), the Fibre Box Association (FBA) and the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI).

For more information, visit For information about corrugated packaging’s life-cycle studies and sustainability, visit

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