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Paper Recycling For Packaging

Packaging waste and general mixed papers are recycled back into cardboard boxes. Cardboard is made up of two “grades”, the inner part of the cardboard is called the fluting and it is this that gives the box its rigidity. As the “inside” is not seen by the consumer it is normally manufactured from the cheapest available waste paper – namely Mixed Papers! The outside of the cardboard box needs to be made from cleaner waste and is normally made from cardboard (old or new KLS).

Companies need to:

  • Reduce the amount of packaging produced in the first place
  • Reduce how much packaging waste goes to landfill
  • Increase the amount of packaging waste that’s recycled and recovered

Packaging waste and mixed papers is a global market and is sold to Countries as far away as Vietnam and China. Closer to home, we have four main Groups in the UK: DS Smith with mills including Kemsley in Kent; SAICA at Partington; Smurfit Kappa with a plant in Birmingham and in Snodland, Kent; and northern mills including Sonoco.

Prima sells much of the packaging waste to Smurfit in Snodland, but we also export loads into Europe.

Recycled packaging waste chart

As is exemplified in this table, the vast majority of packaging waste is exported.

Mainland Europe used to be the main export location for packaging grades, but not any longer. Over the past decade China has increased its imports of waste for recycling tenfold, easily overtaking Europe as the main market.

China has recently tightened up on its quality requirements for both mixed paper and cardboard. As a result prices have dropped but, as Prima does not sell into China, it has not affected our ability to sell.

Clearly the manufacture of cardboard is not in decline and many paper mills that were producing newsprint or graphic papers have switched their mills to producing packaging grades.

At Prima we encourage Companies to improve on their recycling rates or recovery rates.

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