Business Limelight – Pro Carton

In the Limelight!

An SPN exclusive for Pro Carton: The European Association of Carton and Cartonboard manufacturers

From Winfried Muehling, General Manager of Pro Carton “Pro Carton is the European Association of Carton and Cartonboard manufacturers. Its main objective is to promote the use of cartons and cartonboard to brand owners and the trade alike, as well as to designers, the media and politicians as an economically and ecologically-balanced superior packaging medium”.

“The organisation is comprised of 16 members. These represent the vast majority of cartonboard manufacturers and carton producers in Europe. Between them, Pro Carton’s members operate more than 40 production sites and 50 board-machines across 14 European countries. It is the association’s role to work closely with its members and other organisations to provide customers, consumers, retailers and other interested parties the very latest information on the significant benefits of cartonboard.

Renewable, recyclable and biodegradable

Cartonboard is one of the most environmentally friendly packaging materials. It uses renewable resources during each production stage and is fully recyclable and biodegradable. As a result, the recycling rates for cartonboard have reached 84.2% in Europe, thus making it one of the highest rates-of-use for any packaging material.

During the pandemic, consumers around the world became increasingly aware of the environmental impact of their packaging consumption, as well as the end-of-life products that they create. Cartonboard packaging efficiently protects products during transportation from the manufacturing process, right through to the broad network of retailers and end-consumers. Our recent research reveals that fibre-based packaging materials can be recycled more than 25 times with little or no loss of mechanical integrity. The results of this scientific research define the best base for our Circular Economy business model and proves just why cartonboard is the preferred packaging solution for around 80% of consumers. In fact, with rising recycling rates among consumers, new research carried out by Pro Carton in 2021 revealed that 58% of European consumers recycled more packaging than before the pandemic is no surprise therefore that cartonboard continues to grow in popularity. It is now evident that consumers in Europe trust cartonboard more than ever, and they fully appreciate its environmental value and recycling capabilities.

This in turn creates an obligation for cartonboard producers to provide even more efficient and more functional packaging solutions. The good news for consumers and the environment is that global and local brands are both responding well by embracing the functionality and sustainability that cartonboard offers. It is already proven to be a most reliable option for the safe and hygienic transportation of a wide range of products – protecting both the product and the health of the consumer. The focus of the industry’s R&D activities today is to offer an increasing number of applications for cartonboard solutions in entirely new categories. Here, cartonboard manufacturers are consistently improving their barrier properties to offer environmentally-friendly barrier solutions for products exposed directly to their contact with food.

Furthermore, thanks to its uniquely renewable, recyclable, and biodegradable properties, cartonboard packaging solutions provide an excellent example of how to achieve a truly Circular Economy. Circularity starts with the design of the package by using materials from renewable sources, as well as minimising material usage to meet the functional expectations of consumers. Therefore, it is important to understand this and to plan for more effective recycling processes already during the design stage. Here, cartonboard and carton manufacturers collaborate closely with recyclers to maximise collection and recycling rates. It is our clear ambition to further raise-the-bar in order to increase recycling rates for fibre-based materials to 90% by 2030. We know that this is an ambitious figure, but with the support of retailers and consumers in Europe we should certainly be able to achieve this.

The Circular Economy also means that we must take full responsibility for ensuring sustainable forest management. Nearly 78% of wood, woodchips or residues from saw mills we purchase come from forests that are certified.

These have expanded by almost 20 million hectares over the last 30 years, which equals about half the surface area of Germany. Our industry fully supports sustainable forest-management as a base for a healthier climate and to secure a constant supply of sustainably-managed raw materials.

At Pro Carton, we passionately support sustainable forest-management for cartonboard production and champion clean production processes for both cartonboard and cartons. Through collaboration and close communication with our members, we help retailers and consumers to secure the highest possible collection rates of end-of-use cartons. Our members continue to invest in new technology to improve recycling rates and maximise the use of recycled materials. All of these efforts reflect positively on our ambitions and our dedication to lead the packaging industry forward and to further demonstrate how a truly Circular Economy can be made possible”.

For more information on Pro Carton and the outstanding benefits of cartonboard, visit