Corrugated board vs. plastics

Corrugated board vs. plastics
International studies confirm the ecological and economic benefits of corrugated board over plastics.

The winner and defending champion in the competition for the best transport packaging material for fruit and vegetables is corrugated board. It scores especially high over plastic crates in the key disciplines of ecology and economics. International studies analysed by FEFCO in Germany, Spain, and Switzerland clearly confirm the advantages of corrugated board – while underscoring its primary benefits in the areas of environmental impact and cost effectiveness.

From an ecological perspective, corrugated board simply can not be beaten. This exemplary recyclable material is comprised solely of organic materials: paper and starch-based glue. In Europe, nearly 70% of corrugated board is recycled. In addition to this, numerous studies show that this packaging material is far more ecologically friendly than plastic containers.

For example, in a life-cycle study (Life Cycle Analysis, LCA) conducted in November 2005, by the Institute of Packaging Technology, Transport, and Logistics, Valencia, in cooperation with the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spanish scientists identified environmental impact factors and the costs for transporting fruit in both corrugated board and plastic crates "from the cradle to the grave". The most important finding in terms of environmental impact: the manufacturing of corrugated board impacts the environment less than the production of plastic packaging. Corrugated board, for example, minimizes effects on climate change.

Similar results coming from a study conducted by an interest group for corrugated board manufacturers in Switzerland, the IWIS (now known as “Wellkarton Schweiz” or WS) focused on CO 2 emissions generated by transporting goods. The results speak for themselves: the greater the transport distance, the more ecologically advantageous corrugated board becomes. For medium and long-haul distances, corrugated packaging is clearly the packaging material of choice – regardless of whether it is transported by truck, ship, or rail. Environmental and economical costs for return shipments and high-energy cleaning processes are eliminated entirely.

A German study conducted in 2006 by the packaging specialists Berndt & Partners confirms that corrugated packaging is the most economical solution. The German Association of Corrugated Board Manufacturers (VDW) commissioned the institute to conduct a study that determines the total cost of transporting apples. Boxes made of corrugated board were compared with crates made of plastic from IFCO.