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Sustainability Story – Turning Obsolete Cartons Into Something Useful

| Books

By Mark Friesen, Industrial Park Operations Manager

What happens to cartons ordered for boxing books that are the wrong size, or, for that matter, what happens to the extra cartons that are left over from a job?

The fact is that ordering cartons is not an exact science, and it is difficult to get it right every time. There are many variables that can contribute to a carton being the wrong size for a job. From a slight variation in paper thickness that can change the height of a stack of books (up to an inch or more), to something going wrong during the manufacturing process of the books, causing us to produce fewer books and therefore leaving us with leftover cartons.

Until now, our practices were to store the cartons (taking up a lot of space) and hope to use them for another job in the future, to send them to the recycling depot for use in making more corrugated cardboard, or to sell them to a buyer who pays us pennies for each carton. At the end of 2021 we had 40 skids of obsolete cartons that we had to get rid of.

As of February, we have found a new way to use our unused cartons. We now have the ability to open the unused carton and cut it down (with existing equipment) to the 7 x 9 packing that we use for filling the empty space in a carton of books. In a one year period, we use over 3 million pieces of 7 x 9 packing for filling cartons. The ability to cut down unused cartons will put a serious dent in the number of unused cartons that end up in the recycle bins here at Friesens. This is a great solution that our CI team came up with when looking at our sustainability goals for reducing waste, recycling, reusing material, and our goal of “being green.”

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