In the United States, more corrugated boxes are being shipped with recyclable wax alternative coatings than traditional wax treatments. The Corrugated Packaging Alliance announced study results in the fall of 2015, citing 10.6 billion square feet of repulpable boxes with water based coatings were shipped versus 9.8 billion square feet of waxed treated boxes the previous year. It’s the first time that waxed coatings have shown a downward trend.
The same trend is afoot in Canada says John Mullinder, executive director, Paper and Paperboard Packaging Environmental Council. There are now almost 50 wax alternatives that have passed North American certification standards for repulpability and recyclability. Progress has been made in replacing all types of wax-treated boxes whether they are cascaded, impregnated or curtain-coated.
Glue and ink manufacturers have developed new formulations that overcome the adhesion and print issues of the past. Hot-melt glue systems provide a strong bond along the carton’s glue joint and new ink additives allow for better print quality. The boxes are stamped with an industry-approved logo to indicate that the box is made with certified wax alternatives that fit the criteria for full recyclability.
“It is important to have a clear understanding of how the box is being used,” says Stephen Moore, account manager with Moore Packaging Corporation, Barrie, Ontario. “Where certain fruits and vegetables are cooled using ice and water and packed outdoors in all conditions, we have found that the growers want to continue using our traditional wax treatment. However for those crops that are cooled and packed in a controlled environment, we encourage them to explore wax alternatives and the response has been quite positive.”
The movement has been prodded by major retailers who recognize the marketing and cost reduction opportunities that come with using wax alternatives. Recovery rates for old corrugated containers (OCC) continue to increase and supermarkets can generate extra revenue with the return of their baled corrugate as opposed to paying for the disposal of waxed cartons. This practice demonstrates the retailer’s commitment to using sustainable packaging.
At Moore Packaging Corporation, a variety of different recyclable coatings is offered in addition to curtain coat wax treatments, all of which are sourced domestically and have been approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for food contact. Their line of coatings can be applied to any combination of liners: inside, outside or both.
“We always recommend a small trial run before moving to full scale production,” says Moore. “This allows the grower to try the cartons in their everyday environment to ensure they are happy with the performance of the coating.”
“One size does not fit all,” says Moore. “So we offer common footprints and custom designs to meet the customer’s needs. And we understand the importance of branding, so we have a graphic design department that can build your logo and message.”
While growers are encouraging Canadian consumers to ‘buy local,’ they are also supporting local packaging manufacturers.”
“Our industry takes a great deal of pride in our recovery efforts,” says Moore. “We also understand that growers need a shipping container that can hold up against moisture. With advancements in wax alternative coatings, we can continue to be the most reliable, cost effective and sustainable packaging choice for our customers.”