Earth Overshoot Day: printers urged to hail sector sustainability

By Rhys Handley, Thursday 01 August 2019

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Pro Carton has urged the carton and wider print sector to push the benefits of paper- and cartonboard-based packaging materials to highlight the sustainability crisis marked by Earth Overshoot Day.

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Hitchin: "The more awareness there is, the better off our world will end up being"

Tuesday (29 July) was Earth Overshoot Day, which is defined as the day in the year when people have used more resources than the planet can replenish – essentially leaving the world in a ‘resource debt’ for the rest of the year. The day has drawn closer each year, having been marked on 23 September in 2000, 26 August in 2005 and 8 August in 2010.

General manager of Pro Carton, the European cartonboard trade association, Tony Hitchin used the day to push the biodegradable and recyclable properties of his sector’s output in support of the ‘#MoveTheDate’ campaign to move Overshoot Day further back in the year.

“We have been aware of Overshoot Day for some time and it is an important day to highlight the issues our society has with its resources,” Hitchin said. “Our campaign has mostly consisted of promotional activities to make people, particularly packaging decision-makers, fully aware of cartonboard and paper alternatives.

“We need to encourage them to move over, which is happening, but consumers are not happy with the slow pace of change. The whole plastic debate has been well-publicised, and this chimes closely with public concerns on that, as well as confusion and misinformation.

“Looking at the broader print landscape, it is important for print companies to work to increase public knowledge levels and the sentiment towards using sustainable materials. It would be great to see all these companies in the print world adopt the messages we shout about in our campaigns and our literature.”

He concluded: “The more awareness there is, the better off our world will end up being.”

A key misconception Hitchin pointed to was the assumption that paper and cartonboard are destroying trees though the industry actually re-plants “the equivalent of 1,500 football pitches every day”.

Pro Carton literature explains how the raw wood fibre for carton manufacture is sourced from sustainably-manager forests and cartons are recycled at the end of their lives into a secondary raw material.

In Europe, 49% of cartons are made from virgin fibre and 51% from recycled fibre.

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