- Uphold the principles of sustainable forest management to provide ecological, social and economic benefits to the communities where we operate.
- Prioritize the health and safety of our employees above all else to achieve a workplace free from serious injuries and fatalities.
- Invest in our people, our operations, technology and science, and our communities to attain unparalleled employee engagement, operational excellence and customer satisfaction.
Sustainable Packaging Solutions
A Commitment to Managed Forestry, Continuous Recycling, Energy Management and Responsible Operations
PCA is committed to its people, customers and communities.
Through our annual responsibility report, we share our progress on our environmental and social impact. Featured in our recently released 2022 report:
- Carbon-neutral biomass fuels two-thirds of our mills’ energy needs.
- Together with our industry peers, we are working to reduce total scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 50% by 2030.
- PCA is exploring technologies to become a net-zero carbon emissions company by 2050.
The Life Cycle of the Corrugated Box
Corrugated boxes are everywhere. As a matter of fact, each year in the United States, 40 billion corrugated boxes go through various distribution channels in order to get people the products they need. It is a $43 billion industry providing employment and benefits to approximately 100,000 people across the country.
Did you know that most boxes do make their way back to a paper mill to be re-pulped and made into a new corrugated box? Corrugated is the most recycled packaging material there is, making boxes the most sustainable and environmentally friendly packaging material available. How are they made, and what makes them environmentally friendly? Let’s take a closer look at the life cycle of a corrugated box.
Corrugated boxes are made from a renewable resource. The trees used are planted, grown and harvested responsibly from managed forests. Most managed forests are privately owned.
The trees are responsibly and sustainably cultivated and are not in danger of being depleted. As a matter of fact, since the 1950s the amount of standing timber in the U.S. has increased by 60%.
PCA makes managed forestry a priority in its sustainability efforts and is certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) program.
Corrugated is the most recycled packaging material. In 2020, approximately 90% of all corrugated products were recovered and directed into the recycling stream.
But a steady infusion of new fiber into the production cycle is essential for sustainability. Wood fibers break down and lose their desirable attributes after multiple reuses.
Therefore, if new fiber is not constantly added into the manufacturing cycle, corrugated products won’t perform properly, the needs of our customers would not be met and our industry would run out of viable raw material for production.
amount of recycled content in the average corrugated box
recovered packaging material from paper-based packaging
approximate recycling rate for corrugated boxes in 2020
By maximizing the use of renewable, carbon-beneficial bioenergy, paper mills throughout the U.S. avoid the eventual release of about 181 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere each year. That’s the same as removing 35 million cars from the road.*
- At PCA’s mill in Tomahawk, Wisconsin, a wastewater treatment lagoon captures methane gas generated through the decomposition of organic materials and uses it as fuel for boilers.
- In International Falls, Minnesota, a turbine generator has increased the rate of electrical self-generation by 595,000 GJ of energy per year. This is the equivalent electrical consumption of 15,120 homes — or five times the number of households in the entire city of International Falls.
- At our Counce, Tennessee, and Valdosta, Georgia, mills, upgraded recovery boiler and turbine generator assets increase the use of internally generated wood waste and black liquor energy sources to increase our capacity to self-generate electricity. This contributes approximately 3 million GJ of biogenic, carbon-neutral energy to our portfolio, which enables the mills to reduce consumption of fossil fuels. It would require over 2,800 acres of solar panels to generate this same level of renewable power.
*Source: National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, 2014
of all energy used is carbon neutral
of all electric power is self-generated
of all fossil fuel consumed is natural gas
Providing Responsible Design, Manufacturing and Delivery
We strive to continuously “rightsize” packaging designs for our customers to ensure no more material is used than is absolutely necessary, while still providing the most effective container possible.
This makes corrugated packaging designed and produced by PCA both lightweight and more space-efficient, which ultimately means less energy is used to ship them, further reducing the carbon footprint.
Our CEO on PCA’s Sustainability Commitment
“Our Sustainability Committee has formalized a set of Sustainable Business Principles as the foundation for PCA’s deliberate and thoughtful approach to our environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts. These principles will guide us as we endeavor to meet the needs of our stakeholders for generations to come.”
- Build a resilient culture oriented towards serving the needs of one another, and our stakeholders.
- Make a continuous effort to maximize the efficiency of everything we do to reduce the consumption of raw materials and minimize waste in all its forms.
- Manufacture high-quality, high-performance products from responsibly sourced renewable materials that are recyclable or reusable.
- Act with integrity and use responsible business practices to earn the trust of our stakeholders.
- Be a good steward of the watersheds and aquifers we depend on by understanding water as a shared resource and collaborating with others to ensure water security.
- Increase the use of renewable or carbon-free energy sources until greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels have been effectively mitigated.
Sustainable Forestry Initiative
Forestry Stewardship Council
Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification
Short hauls contribute to a reduced carbon footprint.
You don’t have to go far to find the corrugated solutions you need. Our facilities are strategically positioned to meet the needs of both large and small businesses.
Corrugated Packaging’s Environmental Sustainability
What makes corrugated packaging one of the most sustainable packaging materials available? It’s because of managed forestry, continuous recycling and renewable resources.
Sustainable Produce Packaging Rooted in Corrugated Solutions
With the produce industry pushing to meet the demand for multi-use, sustainable produce packaging, PCA innovates with fresh and new corrugated solutions.
Sustainable Products — Better for Business and the Planet
Choose a partner who can elevate your corrugated packaging with sustainable solutions.