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 square feet 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 square feet of boxes using recyclable wax alternative coatings. That’s over 849% 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.
- 51 recyclable wax alternatives have passed certification testing for repulpability and recyclability and have been registered with the Fibre Box Association.
Corrugated recovery is a true success story.
The recovery rate for old corrugated containers (OCC) has been on a steady climb reaching a record 93 percent 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, 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 means that renewable, recyclable corrugated can be used for even the most demanding applications.”
For more information about recyclable wax alternatives, including a fact sheet, visit http://www.corrugated.org/recycling/recyclable-wax-alternatives/.