Recycling and Beyond – How Responsible Packaging Impacts Sustainability

As you walk down the street, it’s quite normal to see a recycling bin alongside other trash containers. While the practice feels decidedly modern, did you know that recycling has been commonplace since the days of Ancient Greece?

A recent article in Packaging Digest, titled How do recycling stats stack up for packaging materials? confirms that, while great advances have been made – in particular, in the recycling of packaging materials – there is always room for improvement.

While we certainly recommend reading the entire article, here are some reported statistics that even the most conscious of consumers may find surprising:

  • Americans recycle about 35% of our trash – which equals 87 million tons.
  • Since 2005, there has been a 74% increase in the amount of post-consumer film that has been recovered for recycling – more than 1.14 billion pounds.
  • Since 1990, the percentage of paper and paperboard materials that were recovered for recycling has nearly doubled.

What’s more, innovations in recycling are turning someone’s trash into someone else’s treasure. Upcycling – reusing discarded objects or materials in such a way to create a product of a higher quality or value than the original – turns recycled materials into consumer products like jackets, handbags, backpacks and even flower pots. While official statistics on upcycling rates are vague at best, Etsy – the online maker-marketplace has reported that the number of products tagged as “upcycled” increased from less than 10,000 in 2010 to more than 215,000 in 2014. That’s a huge increase!

Here at Veritiv, we understand that profitable growth is responsible growth – and we work to help our customers become conscientious stewards of natural resources across their entire supply chain. Our Packaging Design Center teams can help our customers meet their own environmental sustainability goals – developing and implementing original packaging designs that may reduce waste, greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, and water use associated with packaging production – all actions that can have a positive impact on our planet beyond recyclability. They do it well, too – many of the products you see on the shelf at your local big-box store or get delivered to your front door are the result of our packaging design expertise.

Next time you’re out shopping, take notice of the packaging protecting the products you’re buying. Is there an efficient use of space? Is it easy to open without tearing, and easy to recycle? These are all examples of sustainable packaging options. Most of all… we encourage you to recycle once you’re finished!

Veritiv believes that your packaging needs to perform — from concept to destination. That’s why our packaging experts work one-on-one with our customers to identify and then implement performance-enhancing solutions that deliver on form and function. Learn more about Veritiv packaging at