THE ECOLOGICAL CYCLE OF CARDBOARD
From the raw material to processing and recycling, the manufacturing of cardboard is an ecological cycle. In fact, the cardboard that is commonly used in Italy consists of 80% recycled fiber and only 20% virgin fiber, mainly sourced from conifer or broadleaved forests grown and managed by the paper industry.
It is therefore wrong to believe that paper production is a cause of deforestation; on the contrary, paper production from virgin fiber endorsed by forest management determines an increase in the woodland, which contributes to reducing the greenhouse effect.
Moreover, the destruction of the tropical forest cannot be attributed to the paper industry. In fact, the fiber obtained from tropical trees is not particularly suitable for the production of paper and cardboard.
On the contrary, the forests of the northern regions controlled by forest management, extended over an area of 100 billion cubic meters, are expanding at a rate of 1.3 billion m3/year against an exploitation of about 600 million m3, with a growth rate that exceeds 50% of the logging rate.
As stated above, corrugated cardboard comes from recyclable sources. Its fibers are biodegradable and 100% recyclable. Recycling not only offers a noticeable economic advantage, but also reduces the quantity of packaging material to be disposed of in dumps after its use. Out of about 22 million tons of urban solid waste yearly produced in Italy, packaging materials represent about 50% of the whole mass, 35% of it being paper and cardboard.
Only 30% of this, i.e. 2,300,000 tons, is recovered. This figure is not satisfactorily yet, but is in constant increase. The introduction of new regulations concerning the packaging field marks corrugated cardboard as the favorite material. In fact, as opposed to materials, corrugated cardboard is 100% recyclable, it degrades on its own, it does not produce any harmful smoke if burned and can be repeatedly recycled.
The technical information contained in this area comes from the monograph: “Il cartone ondulato: una scelta di economia aziendale ed ambientale” (“Corrugated cardboard: a company and environmental economy choice”) by G.I.F.C.O. (Gruppo Italiano Fabbricanti di Cartone Ondulato, Italian Group of Corrugated Board Manufacturers) and Assocarta (the association of all paper, cardboard and paper pulp producers).