Three reasons why containerboard is critical for sustainable packaging design

Share article

When it comes to paper packaging, there is more than one path to sustainability. Understanding the strengths of key containerboard grades will uncover the route that fits your needs best.  

Up to 80% of any product’s environmental footprint is influenced at the design phase. In our world, this means that early decisions on the shape, size, weight and functionality of each packaging solution have a huge impact on the carbon footprint it will leave over its lifecycle.  

Up to 80% of any product’s environmental footprint is influenced at the design phase 

For corrugated packaging producers, sustainable product design begins with a holistic and balanced approach: finding containerboard paper grades that have been manufactured in a responsible and efficient way, in line with the principles of the growing circular economy, and to meet the needs of specific packaging challenges. 

Keep these key points in mind when considering your containerboard options: 

1. Sustainable paper packaging relies on both fresh and recycled fibre

Recent research from Deloitte highlighted that 62% of adults surveyed consider a product to be sustainable if it is made from recycled or repurposed materials. However, it is neither sustainable nor possible for the paper-based packaging system to rely on recycled containerboard only.  

This is because wood fibres naturally degrade each time they are recycled. Wood fibre can be recycled around five to seven times (or potentially up to 25 times under specific conditions) before fresh fibre must be added to sustain the cycle.  

In this way, fresh vs. recycled fibre is a false dichotomy and cannot be used as a quick method for determining the sustainability of a packaging solution.  

Our expertise with both comes together in our SmartKraft range of two-ply containerboard grades made from a 100% recycled bottom layer with a 100% fresh fibre top in white or brown kraft paper. This is the best of both worlds, offering price and performance, strength and circularity.

Choosing the right containerboard is critical for sustainable packaging design

2. The most sustainable paper grade depends on your packaging challenge

Sustainable product design not only considers what packaging is made from, how it is produced or what happens to it at the end of its useful life. It must also focus on the properties required to protect the product being transported or stored in the packaging.  

Waste from goods damaged or spoiled in transit is a large contributor to the overarching waste problem across all economic sectors, making a significant contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions. For instance, the Energy Saving Trust suggests that 8-10% of the world’s GHG emissions relate to food waste, which effective packaging can help prevent.  

At Mondi, our broad and comprehensive containerboard range enables customers to work with the best paper grades for their packaging needs: 

  • Our cost-effective and 100% recycled containerboard grades support the circular economy while achieving optimum standards for runnability and are ideal for lightweight corrugated case material. These testliners resonate with consumers who value their purchases arriving in 100% recycled paper packaging.  
  • When strength and high box performance are key, customers can choose from our white and brown kraftliners made from an ideal mix of fresh and recycled fibre. These are effective for heavy-duty packaging, while minimising packaging weight to help reduce transportation costs and emissions. Our white kraftliner offers superior appearance for high quality printing, making it perfect for shelf-ready packaging and point-of-sale displays.  
  • For even more firmness and stability between the different layers of liner, customers can choose our semi-chemical fluting, perfect for optimum protection of products that travel long distances in challenging conditions, such as fresh fruit and vegetables.  
A graphic representing circularity across the life cycle.

3. Efficient containerboard production reduces the carbon footprint of corrugated packaging 

The carbon footprint of your containerboard factors into the overall impact of your final paper packaging solution. In fact, the highest contribution to a packaging solution’s cradle-to-gate carbon footprint comes from its raw materials – mainly paper.  

As such, containerboard is not created equally and it is important to partner with a supplier with credible, robust and ambitious commitments to continuously enhance their environmental performance.  

We’re investing €1.2 billion across our packaging businesses, with energy efficiency and waste reduction being among our key priorities.  

This includes over €400 million in our containerboard pulp and paper mills, building on our progress over the past decade to reduce emissions, wood loss and water use, while enhancing energy self-sufficiency.  

Containerboard is not created equally and it is important to partner with a supplier with credible, robust and ambitious commitments to continuously enhance their operations 

Explore our latest Sustainable Development report to discover more about what makes Mondi an industry leader in sustainable containerboard and get in touch to discuss how we can help you with your challenges.   

2023 sustainability report

See our 2023 sustainability report and indices and read about our committments and performance against our action areas and targets.

mondi sd report 2023

You might also be interested in...