AF&PA Releases Guide To Advance Paper Recycling Design Guidance Building on the sustainability success of paper based packaging and recycling, the American Forest & Paper As- sociation (AF&PA) has released a new tool, “The Design Guidance for Recyclability,” a data-driven resource to aid packaging designers and brands in the design and manu- facture of packaging to meet recyclability goals. The guide provides data on how certain non-fiber el- ements, such as coatings and additives, impact the recy- clability of paper-based packaging. “Paper recycling is a circular economy success story. Increasingly, consumers are seeking more sustainable packaging, and as a result, brands are challenged to add more recyclable packaging to their portfolio,” said Heidi Brock, AF&PA President and CEO. “Combining our indus- try’s track record on paper recycling – meeting or exceed- ing a 63 percent recycling rate since 2009 – along with AF&PA’s industry data and statistics, this guide will be a true asset to those seeking to innovate around sustainable packaging. I am confident that a deeper understanding, as to the complexities brands and packaging designers face in balancing design and performance with recyclability, will further advance paper recycling innovation,” The findings in the report are the result of an AF&PA member survey of company mills in a range of sectors in the United States and Canada. The survey had a 75 per- cent response rate. In total, data for 86 mills was reported. The study included corrugated packaging, bleached and unbleached paperboard cartons, carrier stock cartons, Kraft paper bags, multiwall shipping sacks and molded fi- ber containers. The study examined numerous non-fiber elements including inks and dyes, adhesives, tapes and labels, coatings and barriers, metals and plastics, foils, wet strength, and non-tree fibers. Key findings include: • Non-fiber elements may present a recycling “chal- lenge” when they slow down the mill’s pulping process, plug screening systems or leave residue on finished paper or paperboard. • Being a “challenge” does not mean “not recyclable.” Each non-fiber element applied to each kind of pack- aging was rated by some mills as not a “challenge.” “This technical guidance is not meant to be mandatory or a standard for the packaging industry. Rather, it is an information tool to help individuals and organizations that specify and design packaging to better meet a customer’s recycling needs,” said Brian Hawkinson, AF&PA’s Execu- tive Director of Recovered Fiber. In addition to data about the impact non-fiber elements have on packaging recyclability, the report includes re- sources about the recycling process, standards and in- sights from mills on specific non-fiber elements. “The Design Guidance for Recyclability” is free. Download it at afandpa.org/sustainability/design-guidance .
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March 8, 2021
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