PPEC represents the Canadian paper packaging industry on environmental issues. The council was founded by four separate sectors of the industry (packaging mills and converters) back in 1990, allowing them to work together and speak with one voice rather than several. Its Board of Directors is representative of the four different sectors and the council operates on a consensus basis.
PPEC lobbies governments; networks with other industry players; co-ordinates action industry-wide; develops practical solutions; and promotes the environmental performance and achievements of the industry as a whole.
It has earned an enviable track record of leadership and innovation over its 25 plus years of existence while achieving a number of world or North American “firsts.”
- Pioneered the composting of waxed corrugated and old boxboard (an alternative to recycling in regions far from recycling mills).
- First in North America to trial and promote the further recycling of old boxboard (today, some 94% of Canadians have access to its recycling).
- First to apply activity-based costing to residential recycling programs (creating a more level playing field between packaging materials) in EPR or industry stewardship programs (Blue Box).
- Pioneered a Food Packaging Protocol for using recycled board (giving confidence to customers using material from residential sources).
- The first paper packaging association in the world whose entire mill membership is now independently third-party certified to internationally recognised “chain-of-custody” standards (responsible sourcing of both virgin and recycled materials).
- First packaging association in Canada and possibly first corrugated association in the world to publicly call for a landfill ban on the type of packaging materials its own members produce.
Why PPEC Matters
We are Canadian …
- Focussed on Canadian issues from our Brampton, Ontario offices
- We deal with Canadian politicians, Canadian civil servants, Canadian industry associations, and the Canadian public
- We are staffed by Canadians and our member fees stay in Canada
… while operating in a North American marketplace
- We recognise the importance of relationships with our US neighbours and work closely with related industry bodies such as the American Forest & Paper Association (AF & PA), Fibre Box
Association (FBA), Corrugated Packaging Alliance (CPA), Association of Independent Corrugated Converters (AICC) , Paperboard Packaging Council (PPC), and
- We are a member of an informal paper packaging alliance of paper packaging associations in North America.
We work together …
- By pooling their resources to fund PPEC, the various sectors of the paper packaging industry in Canada have avoided the costs of staffing and funding the environmental work of their own sector-specific associations. One body (PPEC) does it for all.
We have greater political clout because we speak with one voice
- Governments hate dealing with multiple associations representing what they see as the same industry. They like to deal with one body representing the whole sector. It cuts down on confusion and provides greater political clout for the industry as a whole.
- The PPEC “umbrella” has all the paper packaging players together around the same table (mills, converters, integrateds and independents, and all three packaging grades: containerboard, boxboard and kraft paper).
- Each sector of the industry is equally represented (two seats) on the PPEC board of directors, ensuring the council does not favour any one sector. It would not survive if it did.
Our focus is on a single (if large) issue: the Environment and Sustainability
- The council is not distracted by the traditional concerns of a typical industry association. It is focussed solely on the environment and sustainability, issues of great importance to our customers.
- PPEC has been involved in these issues for over 25 years, building up an expertise and knowledge and breadth of contacts that is unsurpassed.
- Our history is that of a leader, proactively coming up with practical solutions, and strongly protecting the industry’s environmental interests, right here in Canada.
We have an impressive history of leadership
- PPEC created an entirely new recycling market for old boxboard in North America. In the early 1990s, most cereal, detergent and shoe boxes went straight to landfill. Working with Kellogg’s, P & G, and Lever Brothers, the council co-ordinated mill trials in Southern Ontario to blend this mostly 100% recycled material with other paper grades, overcoming technical and health concerns, growing the market, and encouraging its wider municipal collection. In 1990, no Canadians could recycle old boxboard. Today, virtually everyone can.
- The council pioneered composting as a waste diversion option for used paper packaging. Recognising that it didn’t make environmental or economic sense to truck old packaging hundreds of kilometres to the nearest recycling mill, PPEC commissioned ground-breaking compost trials at Mc Gill University’s farm campus at Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Que. Boxes became acceptable compost! Today, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia compost more used cartons than they send for recycling.
- PPEC was the first to apply an activity-based costing approach to residential recycling programs This created a more level playing field between packaging materials as industry-funded Blue Box stewardship programs were launched in various provinces, and today underpins the current funding formulas used by the Canadian Stewardship Services Alliance (CSSA) and Eco-Entreprises Quebec.
- The council has spearheaded some major reductions at source. In the early 1990s, PPEC persuaded the government-owned railways to allow the use of newly-developed lightweight board for shipping by rail (reducing the amount of board used by up to 10%). More recently, it persuaded the Ontario wine and liquor monopoly (the LCBO) to allow an alternative testing procedure that effectively allows more recycled board to be used in wine and liquor packaging.
- All PPEC-member mills are independently third-party certified to internationally recognised “chain-of-custody” standards (responsible sourcing of both virgin and recycled materials).
- PPEC is the first packaging association in Canada, and possibly the first corrugated association in the world, to publically call for a landfill ban on the type of packaging material that its own members produce.
How it all began
It was the garbage barge that did it. Over several months in 1987, the waste-packed Mobro 4000 chugged between US ports, hoping to offload its increasingly smelly cargo. Port after port refused to accept it. Turned away by Mexico and Belize, the “most watched load of garbage in the memory of man” took on a life of its own, a television saga, its daily progress (or lack of progress) constantly tracked like the recent search for an airliner missing over the Indian Ocean.(1)
The Mobro 4000 morphed into a telegenic symbol of a wasteful society, and together with an OECD report that portrayed Canadians as among the worst wasters in the world, encouraged politicians to do something about waste, especially packaging waste. In true Canadian fashion, a multi-stakeholder committee was set up, plans drafted, and in 1990 a National Protocol proclaimed.
PPEC was not yet in existence, but the National Packaging Protocol certainly got the attention of its future members. High-level meetings were held, and the decision taken to send a delegation to Ottawa to tell Environment Canada just what a great job the paper industry was doing in recycling.
The Ottawa meeting did not go as well as expected. Senior industry executives were stunned to discover that corrugated boxes, in particular, were considered to be “public enemy number one.” On a weight basis, they were a key and inviting target. “But we’re a major packaging material,” the executives argued, “so of course there’s going to be a lot of it. We’re also heavier than most other packaging, so yes, we’re going to stick out.” Adding for emphasis: “We also have a great record of paper recovery.” Nothing seemed to matter.
Somewhat chastened, the group reassembled back in Toronto to pass on the bad news. We need a national umbrella body, they decided, that would represent all the various sectors of the industry, both mills and converters, on environmental issues. A body with one voice, not several; and one that would come up with practical solutions, rather than having stupid (government) ones forced upon us; a body that would tell our story, and promote our achievements.
PPEC was born. In 2015 it turned 25.
Video: The Early Years