By Derric Brown
Director of Sustainability, Evergreen Packaging
Evergreen Packaging is committed to improving paper and carton recycling across the U.S. We believe that recovering and reusing paper to make other recycled paper products provides a great environmental benefit. Today’s beverage carton could be tomorrow’s tissue or other recycled paper products.
In 2014, Evergreen developed and implemented an on-package recycle logo tracking system for the gable top cartons we manufacture. The use of an on-package recycle logo is the most effective way to reach consumers regarding packaging recyclability. A 2013 consumer survey showed that 76 percent of respondents look to a product’s package first to find out if it is recyclable. The same survey also showed that 56 percent of respondents said that the absence of a recycle logo would lead them to believe that a package is not recyclable.
Given the importance of the on-package recycle logo for consumers, we decided to develop and implement a recycle logo tracking system. This new tracking system allows us to quantify and analyze logo use by customer, and leverage this information to identify customers that are not using the recycle logo and encourage them to use the recycle logo on their cartons. We also work with our customers to incorporate the recycle logo during carton design changes for other purposes in order to minimize their costs.
Carton recycling has come a long way. In 2009, U.S. household access for cartons was less than 20 percent and a recycle logo could not be used on cartons. When access exceeded 30 percent in 2011, we were able to successfully work with many of our customers to include the qualified recycle logo on their cartons. Now that we are approaching 60 percent access to community recycling programs for cartons, our innovative logo tracking system becomes an even more important tool to engage customers, educate consumers, and increase recovery.
By educating our customers, we are ensuring that information about the recyclability of our products is reaching the wider public, which in turn helps to increase recovery for recycling. Effectively communicating with the American public will help the industry to reach its recovery for recycling goals. We are proud to be part of the industry efforts to reach the 70 percent Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 goal.
Evergreen Packaging received the 2015 AF&PA Leadership in Sustainability Award for Paper Recovery for Recycling for their On-Packaging Recycle Use project.