A new study shows the corrugated industry continues to dramatically decrease its use of wax coatings. In 2013, the industry used 39% less wax than in 2002, when wax usage was first measured. The reduction brings the total waxed corrugated volume to just below 3% of total corrugated volume produced in 2013 compared to 5% of total volume in 2002.

The dramatic decrease is attributed to the development of recyclable alternatives. By developing and using wax alternatives, the industry continues to increase the amount of recyclable corrugated packaging. Coupled with the tremendous supermarket and retail collection of old corrugated containers (OCC), today there’s very little corrugated packaging going to landfills.

  • In 2013, the corrugated industry shipped 9.9 billion square feet of boxes using recyclable wax alternative coatings. That’s over 653% more than the 1.3 billion square feet 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.
  • Forty-seven recyclable wax alternatives have passed certification testing for repulpability and recyclability and have been registered with the Fibre Box Association as of October 2014.
  • Certified registrations have been completed by seven coating suppliers commercially offering solutions in the marketplace and 12 converting companies offering proprietary products to their customers.

Corrugated recovery is a true success story.

During the past decade, the recovery rate for old corrugated containers continued to climb, reaching 88.5% in 2013. Today, more corrugated packaging is recovered for recycling than any other packaging material primarily due to recovery efforts at supermarkets where OCC is baled, then sold to generate substantial revenue and to improve store profitability.

Dennis Colley, executive director of the Corrugated Packaging Alliance (corrugated.org), says, “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 to below 3% of total industry volume means that renewable, recyclable corrugated can be used for even the most demanding applications.”