By switching from plastic to paperboard, it is possible to almost eliminate the packaging's carbon footprint. And that is only one of many benefits of using renewable and sustainable packaging materials.
We asked the Swedish Environmental Institute, IVL, to compare packages made out of paperboard and plastic materials. We used packages that were doing the same job and had a similar functionality. The comparison was based on the carbon footprint values of our paperboard Invercote, and the values for the plastic materials were taken from established environmental databases such as Gabi or Ecoinvent. The study was only based on the carbon footprints of the materials used and included the production of the material, recycling and waste management.
None of the paperboard packages in the study were made on our material. We just chose them because they were good examples of packaging where they, and their plastic counterparts, had a similar functionality.
The outcome was an eye-opener. In the example where the plastic packaging came out best, it still has 2,5 times higher fossil emissions than the matching paperboard packaging. In the worst case, the plastic package generated 95 times higher fossil emissions than the matching paperboard alternative.
Paperboard does not have the barrier properties that plastic has, i.e. the ability to prevent oxygen, moisture, fat or aroma from affecting packaged goods, such as food and confectionery, for example.
A compromise that can reduce the carbon footprint of a package, compared to one made only of plastic material, is to use paperboard for the structure and have a thin plastic barrier to achieve the required properties. This compromise can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the package.
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