cardboard delivery boxes
“E-commerce delivery growth has made increasing residential recycling an imperative,” says the president of the Paper and Packaging Board.
Photo courtesy of DS Smith

Coalition targets residential OCC

Box manufacturers’ residential OCC recycling program promotes increased collection.

September 28, 2022

The Paper and Packaging Board (P+PB) says its membership, which consists of box manufacturers, is promoting an industrywide residential recycling initiative “front and center” at the October Pack Expo event in Chicago.

P+PB, based in McLean, Virginia, says its “Pack to the Future” exhibit at the expo, which takes place Oct. 23-26, will allow eventgoers to “learn more about this informative program and experience an engaging virtual reality (VR) journey in a futuristic, time-traveling corrugated car.” 

The exhibit ties to the residential recycling “Box to Nature” campaign developed by P+PB, participating paper and corrugated manufacturing companies and industry partners. The initiative pairs box manufacturers and e-commerce brands to print a reminder graphic on their boxes that encourages consumers to recycle.

P+PB says, “The Box to Nature program differs from other packaging recycling initiatives because it specifically addresses paper packaging recycling behavior—the bulk of which is related to e-commerce shipping boxes.”

Such boxes, collected and sorted by recyclers as the old corrugated containers (OCC) grade, have become increasingly common in the residential recycling mix, according to operators of material recovery facilities (MRFs).

The Box to Nature graphic provides specific instructions on how to prepare (empty, flatten, recycle) such boxes and a QR code that directs them to where they will find additional recycling information. When the message was tested before launching the program, 75 percent of consumers indicated they would be more likely to recycle their e-commerce box after exposure to the graphic, according to P+PB. 

“Putting the Box to Nature graphic on every box, not only helps the brands’ customers understand how easy it is to recycle properly and thanks them for doing so, but it also shows them that the paper industry is taking positive steps toward sustainability,” P+PB President Mary Anne Hansan says.

While the primary goal is to increase the residential box recycling rate and recapture more fiber to make new paper-based products, participating brands also get a positive lift in perception among consumers due to the association with their choice to use sustainable, recyclable paper-based packaging, the organization says.

Hansan adds, “E-commerce delivery growth has made increasing residential recycling an imperative. However, our research found that two out of three consumers confess to not always recycling. Getting that recycling information on boxes and educating consumers on how to do it correctly is a big step in the right direction.”