General Information

All paper-based packaging originates in a paper or board mill where the paper or board is formed into rolls or sheets. The major packaging grades (containerboard, boxboard, and kraft papers) are manufactured in kraft paper or board mills. Specialty grades such as envelopes and labels and tags are made in what are called fine paper or groundwood mills whose main production is not packaging but printing and writing papers.

The mills’ rolls and sheets are sold to a converter who transforms the raw material into the required package design: whether a corrugated container or box, a folding carton or a kraft paper bag or sack. The packaging can be printed, slotted, creased, folded and glued before being passed on to the brandowner or packager for filling with product prior to distribution to industry or the public.

Any waste material left over from the converting process (corrugated clippings, boxboard trim) is collected on-site and sold to recycling mills to make new packaging. The industry thus has for many years operated its own closed loop in recycling, sourcing most of its secondary fibre (paper) from the industrial, commercial and institutional sectors of the economy. Over the last 30 years, greater efforts have been made to harvest the "urban forest", the packaging that ends up in Canadians’ homes.

Major Packaging Grades

Containerboard: This is a collective term used to describe its two components, linerboard and corrugating medium. As the names imply, the linerboard can be top or bottom liner (like the outside layers of bread in a sandwich) while the corrugating medium sits in the middle giving the board (sandwich) its strength. The strength and stacking properties of containerboard make it the ideal shipper, to make sure a purchase arrives in good condition (no dents, no scratches) all the way from the factory to you.

Most containerboard, in fact, is used to ship multiple items to a warehouse prior to further distribution by wholesalers and retailers. The public generally comes into contact with containerboard only when buying heavier items such as a fridge, TV, DVD, beer, electrical goods and other large items.

Boxboard: This is the thin, lightweight container used to package cereals and detergent, shoes, toys and crackers and a myriad other things. Boxboard also has a non-packaging use: as the top and bottom liner in gypsum wallboard products.

Kraft bags and sacks: These can essentially be divided into two categories: the paper bags used to carry groceries (kraft is the German word for strong) and multi-wall sacks that contain anything from flour and cement to donuts and pet food.

The Canadian Corrugated and Containerboard Association and its member companies is engaged and focusses on the manufacture and attributes of Containerboard soley and the subsequent conversion of Containerboard into corrugated paperboard packaging.