Effects of Transitioning to 100% Recycled

Andrew asks,

I was speaking with a customer yesterday, and they asked about 100% recycled content boxes, and how it might affect their process if they moved to that type of box. They currently do food manufacturing and stack the boxes roughly 80” high (1 pallet).  The boxes also withstand quite a bit of moisture, as the product is refrigerated during/after delivery.

I remembered some of the information from our Corrugated 101 class, and spoke to the fibre degradation between virgin and recycled, and how a 100% recycled box may not be able to withstand their current way of operating. I told the customer I could provide an article, or something with more info on it, to help educate him, if he were to get more questions from his managers.

I found this article on Cracking Scores on Recycled Paper on “Ask Ralph” but didn’t know if you have more info or a different article that would be helpful to share with the customer.  Thanks in advance!

It must be remembered that any corrugated structure should be designed and engineered for a fit-for-use environment. Both virgin and recycled fibred boxes parallel each other in most end use applications including food and agricultural.

Each suppliers system has its own unique value and sustainability proposition. High density and low density repulping process appear to deliver “acceptable” fractionation which separates short length fibres from long length fibres especially in the case where both OCC and recovered municipal and office papers are used. These are then recombined to make linerboard with targeted physical properties.  So the containerboard making process is critical to the quality of the containerboard and corrugated boxes and not all mill processes are the same.

It is important to know your supplier. Initial box compression is the best method and it is important that you have established combined board testing protocols to establish your own quality levels. The AICC has several resources to assist you in these areas.

— Ralph

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One Response to “Effects of Transitioning to 100% Recycled”

  1. katimavik86 Says:

    I would suggest that much of the historical opposition against 100% recycled liners has become obsolete today. We are now using these papers for freezer, fridge, and wax applications that were thought not possible in years past. Strength retention under high humidity has always been the issue but we’re now seeing many mills producing light-weight recycled liners with 30-minute cobb values under 155 g/m2. That magic number was something these liners simply could not do previously without some sort of coating.

    Without this kind of performance, stacking boxes 80″ high in a humid warehouse will be a concern, no doubt.

    With respect to cracking scores, these papers are thinner, lighter, and denser than the virgin, mullen grades we used to rely on. This means your operation parameters on the corrugator are much tighter now to avoid overheating the paper and creating brittle bonds, score cracking, etc.

    Re environmental concerns: Corrugated boxes, by their very nature, are recyclable and renewable be they virgin or recycled. As an industry, we should push back against a distinction between the two unless the issue of white vs brown comes up.

    Comments welcome…

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