Could Paperboard Replace Plastic?

by Megan Arnold April 07, 2021

When it comes to packaging, you probably have a very specific idea in your head. Paperboard is used for boxes and plastic is used for….well, a lot. It might be hard to deviate from those set notions. But, in a time when sustainability is becoming ever-more important and plastic is slowly being shuffled out, brands have to start thinking outside of the packaging box.

Heinz paperboard multipack for canned itemsThat’s exactly what Heinz UK is doing. In an effort to have 100% recyclable, reusable, or compostable packaging by the year 2025, Heinz has announced the switch to a paperboard multipack for its canned products. This new packaging is designed to replace standard plastic shrink wrap and will help to eliminate 550 tons of plastic packaging.

Not only that but it also uses 50% less paperboard than a standard box and 10% less than a traditional sleeve. It even comes from sustainably managed forests and is produced using up to 15% recycled fiber. Talk about eco-friendly.

This example is just one way companies are making the shift to more eco-friendly packaging, and it serves as a great example of how versatile paperboard packaging can be. But, why stop at food packaging?

Even Hasbro is getting in on the sustainability game! In fact, they’ve been making winning moves for almost a decade. First, they ditched plastic polybags that used to hold the instructions. Then, they said goodbye to those pesky wire ties and replaced them with paper ties. Then, any PVC eventually got replaced with bioPET.

But, let’s talk specifically about paperboard. For NERF products, darts are noNerf blaster in paperboard sleeve-like packaging longer being featured in plastic blisters in the corner of the box. Instead, a good old graphic is being used to show consumers what the darts look like. Even the packaging for the blasters got an upgrade, from a box using plastic ties to hold the product in place to a sleeve-like paperboard box that can hold the blaster with no plastic ties required. And Mr. Potato Head? He’s getting an enclosed box this year, eliminating the need for any blisters.

Monopoly Go Green game boxFinally, you can’t possibly be a toy manufacturer and NOT create an educational game about sustainability. Last year, Monopoly Go Green became the first fully sustainable board game. All the paper is 100% recyclable and the greenhouses and dice are made from FSC-certified wood. As for those tokens, those are made from plant-based plastic.

While plastic might not go away completely thanks to plant-based technology, paperboard sure can give it a run for its money. So, the next time you design packaging for your product, stop and think about your environmental impact. Is that piece of plastic necessary? Or, are there other, more effective ways of packaging your product while still helping the environment at the same time?

Megan Arnold
Megan Arnold