When looking at packaging, more and more customers and stakeholders want to know about the effects products they buy have on the environment. For 20 years, FEFCO (European Federation of Corrugated Board Manufacturers) and CCB (Cepi ContainerBoard1) have been collecting data from the Industry in order to document the environmental impact of corrugated board.

This knowledge helps integrate environmental affairs into decision making. It supports product and process improvements, and the benchmarking encourages a responsible attitude of the industry towards the environment.

Through this report the industry aims to make a contribution to the need for basic environmental data for LCA studies, made available in a transparent way.

Technical experts from the industry have worked together with LCA experts to update a database based on both technical knowledge of paper and corrugated board production as well as on the requirements for LCA studies. The data collected from the industry and aggregated in this report result in a European database for life cycle studies.

The data quality of the report was third party reviewed by IFEU.

The Annex of the report contains environmental data of the production of

  • Corrugated base papers from primary fibres: Kraftliner, White Top Kraftliner and Semichemical Fluting (data from CCB)
  • Corrugated base papers from recovered papers: Testliner, White Top Testliner and Wellenstoff (data from CCB)
  • Corrugated board (data from FEFCO).

The database handles the production sites as a black box: neither the details of the different processes in the production site nor the emissions etc. originating from energy production outside the mill, transport and waste treatment are included.

The data in this eighth edition represents the weighted averages of the inputs and outputs from the production sites per tonne paper and corrugated board for the year 2014.

Changes from previous versions of the report are:

  • Fuel consumption and emission to air include only steam and net electricity used on site. In the inventory, sold electricity is not reported as a sold product and the associated input and output data are not included in the inventory.
  • Average technology for recycled paper.
  • Information is given on the percentage of wood that is chain of custody certified under a forest management system.
  • Transport from paper mills to corrugated board sites is included.
  • All wastes reported as wet mass with average dry content.

Data on packaging and cores was not updated for 2014. Looking at previous data collections, the values showed little change over the years and other LCA studies show that the impacts of packaging are relatively small.

The report is available for interested parties on the condition that the data in this report may only be used for environmental studies such as Life Cycle Inventory Analysis, Life Cycle Impact Assessment as separate steps or as a whole Life Cycle Assessment.

The database may only be used for environmental studies regarding product development and improvement and the comparison of the entire system of corrugated board packaging with that of other materials. The database may not be used for comparisons between the production of primary fibre and recovered fibre based materials as such.

LCA methodology, with its systematic, scientific approach, gives an insight into the environmental impact that a product may have on a case-by-case basis.

When LCA data is used to make comparative studies, a specific scenario is chosen and the result can and will vary depending on various parameters. It should be clearly understood that, whatever the outcome of a comparative study, the conclusion should not and cannot be generalized.

It is therefore not recommended to use a single message from a comparative LCA study as the basis for lobbying activities.

According to ISO 14044, allocation of the impacts of primary fibre production (the cradle) and waste treatment (the grave) of wood fibre to the phases in between the cradle and the grave of the life cycle should be avoided, wherever possible. In our case this is done by expanding the product system and considering the expanded system with a closed-loop approach.

The two Associations intend to regularly update the database. The user of the database should therefore enquire of either of the two Associations whether it is the latest edition of the database report prior to using the information enclosed.

We are grateful for the positive response and useful comments we have received from users of the previous editions of the database reports. We want to thank all participants from the industry for providing the necessary input from their plants.

We welcome comments on this report and experiences from users of the database as a contribution to the regular updates!

December 2015
Angelika Christ, FEFCO
Klaus Spielmann, Cepi ContainerBoard

1 In the past, the project was a joint undertaking by three associations FEFCO, GEO (European Association of makers of Corrugated Base Papers) and ECO (European Containerboard Organisation). GEO and ECO have merged to become Cepi ContainerBoard.