Box to Nature aims to increase the residential recapture of fiber by reminding consumers to recycle and to do so properly. Box to Nature’s graphic informs, reminds and thanks the consumer for doing their part by creating positive associations with sustainable paper packaging. Our research tells us that consumers feel good about purchasing from socially conscious companies who engage in this kind of messaging on their boxes.
The right time, the right program. With the accelerated growth in ecommerce and more boxes than ever arriving on residential doorsteps, consumers are experiencing increased guilt. However, research shows that they feel better when they can do their part. While a majority of consumer say they recycle, 63% confess to not always recycling. As a result, only an estimated 40% of consumer recyclable material is recovered through residential recycling according to The Recycling Partnership (TRP). The Box to Nature graphic educates and prompts consumer action at the point of packaging.
This program is meant to specifically address paper packaging recycling behavior which is the bulk of ecommerce shipping boxes. The graphic offers clear, specific (empty, flatten, recycle) and emotional messaging that when tested, 75% of consumers indicated they would be more likely to recycle their ecommerce box after encountering the box message and graphic. Recent qualitative research comparing the Box to Nature mark vs. other recycling marks revealed that, by a 4:1 margin, the Box to Nature mark was more motivating for recycling shipping boxes than How2Recycle® or other more basic “chasing arrows” symbols. Consumers also shared that those marks have become so ubiquitous that they are blind to them or just ignore these symbols or marks on the bottom of the boxes.
Paper and Packaging Board (P+PB) developed the program in collaboration with our participating manufacturing companies and industry partners. P+PB will manage the rollout of the Box to Nature program and ongoing execution and tracking as well as the consumer journey through the QR code.
Overseen by the USDA, P+PB manages a national consumer marketing program that began in 2014 to promote and build preference for the paper and paper-packaging industry. In 2021, P+PB launched a new, dedicated effort to promote the paper industry’s resource stewardship story. The Box to Nature effort is part of the broader sustainability campaign that seeks to educate consumers about the industry’s forestry practices, product innovations and recycling story. For more information on the Paper and Packaging Board visit paperandpackaging.org.
Box manufacturers are targeting ecommerce and direct to consumer brands/customers to place the Box to Nature graphic on their boxes.
The mark includes a QR code that consumers can scan on their mobile devices that leads to an educational consumer experience and P+PB's microsite, Box2Nature.org. Here they can learn more about recycling paper and paper packaging and engage with content on consistent recycling habits. There is a simple quiz feature that introduces a new question each time they scan the code, making the experience different each time they scan.
There are options to co-brand or add a CPG brand’s logo to the Box2Nature.org microsite upon request. In addition, we have a version of the graphic mark that has the QR code removed for those customer boxes that have other QR codes incorporated into their artwork. This is upon request as well. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The plate change and additional artwork should come at little to no cost to the customer. This is an industry supported program with the goal to spread this important recycling message on as many boxes as possible.
The ideal graphic placement includes the inside minor flap at the top of the box or the side of the box for plain boxes with no additional branding. For branded boxes with no other available space, the bottom of the box may be used but should not be encouraged or offered as the first option for the customer. More prominent placement is the key to success as it will garner better engagement from consumers.
The initial phase focuses on corrugated boxes utilizing three graphic sizes included in a provided artwork kit. As Box to Nature grows, additional sizes to allow expanded participation for primary packaging are anticipated.
Success comes in many forms. It’s the number of boxes imprinted, the consumers reached and the increase in the residential fiber recapture rate. The P+PB team will track QR code analytics to monitor consumer engagement. The Fibre Box Association estimates that 40 billion corrugated boxes are made in the US every year with 15% considered as retail ecommerce. Estimating 10% consumer engagement at point of service (POS), that’s roughly 600 million impressions that can hopefully be garnered through the Box to Nature Program. The opportunity exists for all customers to create real change in consumer recycling habits and be a force for nature.
We know the paper industry relies on the fiber that is returned from commercial and residential boxes to make more boxes. And many studies have been done over the years to determine the “life” of a fiber or how many times it can be reused. We worked with NCASI, a non-profit industry research entity, who independently reviewed all of the existing literature and studies and they have determined that the “Up to 7” claim is supportable and is probably conservative. Read report here. The reason we incorporated a claim in consumer messaging is because makes our story more credible, and consumers understand that when they do their part, they are having a meaningful impact.