The use of wax on corrugated cartons — which makes them unrecyclable — to ship fruits and vegetables has dropped greatly.

In 2013, the corrugated industry used 39% less wax than in 2002, when wax use was first measured, according to a study commissioned by the Elk Grove Village, Ill.-based Corrugated Packaging Alliance. The reduction brings waxed corrugated volume to just below 3% of total corrugated volume.

The group attributes the decrease to the development of recyclable alternatives.

Retail collection of old corrugated containers has sent little corrugated packaging into landfills, according to the release.

Some other findings from the study:

  • In 2013, the corrugated industry shipped 9.9 billion square feet of boxes using recyclable wax alternative coatings, compared to 1.3 billion square feet in 2002
  • Up to 47 recyclable wax alternatives have passed certification to be repulped/recycled; and
  • Seven suppliers have completed certified registrations for commercial offering and 12 converting companies are offering proprietary products to their customers, according to the study.

The decline in wax coatings to below 3% shows that renewable and recyclable corrugated can be used for the most demanding applications, Dennis Colley, the alliances’s executive director, said in the release.

The Corrugated Packaging Alliance is sponsored by the American Forest & Paper Association, the Association of Independent Corrugated Converters, the Fibre Box Association and the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry.