The presence of recycled material in paper and packaging is a defining factor for sustainability in the eyes of consumers. There’s even a misperception that recycled products must have a certain look and feel, making them environmentally-friendly. For this reason, some brands have integrated the telltale brown recycled “look” into their packaging as a symbol of environmentally-friendly products. The hope is that consumers will see the “recycled look” of the packaging and purchase the product over another.
However, product marketers tend to take another view. They prefer clean, white printable surfaces to distinguish themselves on the shelf and grab the attention of consumers. The question becomes, how can a brand strike the right balance between environmentally conscious and clean, white packaging?
Fortunately, there is a sustainable and attractive solution in the form of tree farms or trees grown on sustainable plantations. Fiber from tree farms allows paper and packaging products to have the slick white packaging look marketers crave, while ensuring consumers that the product is sustainable.
How sustainable? These fast-growing tree plantations grow trees like farmers grow crops and the young fiber is able to absorb atmospheric carbon more quickly than older trees – an added environmental benefit. In fact, APP’s trees mature in about six years, whereas trees from plantations in colder climates – such as Canada – take 70 to 80 years to mature. Once trees achieve maturity and are harvested, new trees are quickly planted and regrown in a short time.
When combined with recycled material, sustainable virgin fiber helps make paper and packaging products more attractive to the marketer and the consumer. For example, APP has created a process of layering recycled material and sustainable virgin fiber by sandwiching the brown recycled material in the middle and adding the virgin plantation fiber on the outside, providing a clean white surface for printing. We are able to create packaging with up to 80 percent of post-consumer recycled materials in between layers of high-quality, sustainably made virgin fiber. The result is a look and feel that packaged goods companies desire with the added benefit of recycled materials, thus appealing to what consumers desire. And at the end of the day, marketers are able to deploy a truly sustainable packaging solution that meets all of their qualifications.
These and other technological developments in paper making and sustainable forest management at APP will allow us to meet the market’s demand in an environmentally-friendly way, which is truly the only way the paper industry can evolve.