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Sustainability and consumer demand is driving paper packaging innovation, says Domtar

August 31, 2022  By P&PC Staff/Domtar

Domtar’s latest industry insights coverage focuses on innovations in paper packaging. The company notes that the industry is seeing a revival in this space due to the growing consumer demand for plastic alternatives, increased urbanization and an uptick in extended producer responsibility (EPR) legislation related to packaging.

Domtar shares that the paper and paper-based packaging, such as the recycled containerboard that will be produced at its Kingsport Mill from early next year, is made from sustainable wood fibre and is easily recyclable.

Domtar further shares that paper recycling rate in the U.S. hit 68 percent in 2021. Paper and paper-based packaging make up the majority of packaging that is recycled each year. In 2021 91.4 percent of cardboard boxes were recycled (as per American Forest & Paper Association), up from 88.8 percent in 2020.


Domtar adds that the current interest in plastic alternatives is spurring a new wave of packaging innovation, in part through a series of design challenges. In 2021, Domtar was named a winner in the Beyond the Bag challenge for its strong yet stretchable cellulose fibre-based bag.

In 2022, the Paper and Packaging Board held a recyclable packaging design competition that focused on paper as the material of choice. Pack It! The Packaging Recycling Design Challenge is a two-episode YouTube series that gave contestants 10 hours to create paper-based, recyclable packaging to replace commonly used plastic packaging. The prize for each episode was $5,000.

In the first episode, two contestants were challenged with creating packaging for a beauty subscription box. In the second episode, two new contestants worked to design packaging for a delivery meal kit. The packaging had to meet three criteria: recyclability, innovation and product safety.

The series, which launched in August, is part of the Paper and Packaging Board’s How Life Unfolds campaign.

“There’s a hunger for innovative paper and cardboard packaging solutions among sustainability advocates and informed consumers alike,” explained Mary Anne Hansan, president of the Paper and Packaging Board. “By creating packaging that’s made entirely out of paper products, we’re minimizing the waste that makes its way into landfills and replacing less-sustainable packaging in the marketplace. Paper is natural and renewable, as well as an expressive medium that lets brands package the products we love in earth-friendly packaging.”

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