Paper, Packaging and the Future

A team unpacking delivery boxes and packages

As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept across our lives, one emerging trend is a pivot away from in-person shopping to remote and delivery options. Even for items like groceries or pharmaceuticals, consumers have moved towards delivery and carry-out methods. This influx of new orders and shipments has propelled packaging and delivery firms such as Amazon and Instacart to report impressive growth amid their increase in deliveries. As millions of people across the country now shop, dine, and entertain themselves from inside their homes, the result has been an extraordinary increase in the amount of packaging paper that is both produced and consumed.

The growth of packaging paper is not entirely a result of COVID-19. Packaging paper has been on the rise for the last several years. In 2019 the paper packaging market was valued at USD 69.91 billion and was expected to reach 88.73 billion in 2025. The growth of online shopping and shipping, government legislation as well as consumer preferences moving away from plastic containers to paper have helped to drive this. The 2020 pandemic accelerated these trends.

The pandemic has also necessitated the production of billions of additional products such as hand sanitizers, masks, gloves, plastic gowns and disinfectant wipes. Understandably, the increase of single-use products used to safely live within the pandemic has alarmed some environmentalists. However, environmentalists can breathe easy when it comes to packaging paper. Unlike other single-use products such as disposable masks or other PPE (personal protective equipment), packaging paper can be both sourced and produced sustainably.

For example, at NORPAC all lightweight packaging papers are made from recycled paper and the pulping and bleaching process is performed chlorine-free. Similarly, each step of the energy and water recovery system is optimized to reduce water and energy waste. Our end-result is containerboard made with 82% less carbon than most competing paper manufacturers while maintaining a uniform moisture profile, excellent formation and consistent basis weights.

Packaging paper’s sustainability doesn’t end with its production. As much as 93% of corrugated paper is successfully recovered for recycling in the US. This makes packaging paper among the most heavily recycled consumer goods on the planet. The story of packaging paper’s rise over the last few years shows that the future of paper production can be aligned with the goals of a healthy and viable environment.

At NORPAC, we believe that paper plays an important role in keeping our planet strong and sustainable. Contact us today to request a free product information sheet on our containerboard and other packaging products.