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Curtis staying COVID-19 secure in 2020 - View Details


Key Questions

Carbon Balanced Cartons Key Questions answered

Carbon Balanced Cartons are an initiative supported by Curtis Packaging and PaperCo.

Carbon Balanced Cartons provides the total solution, with high credibility and integrity, for customers and their clients to reduce their carbon impacts in paper based communications. This additional information sheet provides more detailed information on two important and commonly asked questions surrounding this initiative:

  • How are the carbon impacts of the products estimated?
  • How is carbon balanced by the World Land Trust?

Carbon Balanced put simply is where the carbon impacts of that product or service has been estimated and equivalent amount of carbon dioxide is either prevented from being released or is absorbed from the atmosphere.

Carbon Balancing is facilitated by the World Land Trust (WLT), an ecological charity, which ensures Curtis customers and their clients peace of mind in the credibility and integrity of how carbon impacts are balanced (offset).

respected leading carbon consultant, the Edinburgh Centre of Carbon Management (ECCM). This provides users with the integrity and confidence of 3rd party verification, in the methodology and consistency in the boundaries when estimating the carbon impact of our products.

The impacts are estimated from cradle to printer’s gate (the point where the printer takes receipt of the paper). The key boundaries, or scope, of the assessment include:

  • Combustion of fossil fuels during paper & pulp manufacture
  • Purchased electricity related to pulp and paper manufacture
  • Embodied emissions of material with pulp manufacture, including chemicals associated with bleaching
  • Embodied emissions of pigments, fillers and binders
  • Transport impacts from paper mill to PaperCo warehouse
  • PaperCo operational impacts, including final delivery miles (PaperCo to printer gate)
  • Curtis optional impacts to factory gate

Currently there is no international standard in how carbon impacts of a product, or service, are measured. This calculator, developed by ECCM, is aligned towards the current UK public available statement, PAS2050, to encompass all key impacts where they can be identified. Where key information is not available, the calculator applies generic average industry information based on the large number of full Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) ECCM have conducted with paper manufacturers.

The carbon emissions calculation method used by ECCM for this tool conforms to the principles and guidelines of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the World Resources Institute Greenhouse Gas Protocol (WBCSD/WRI Protocol), ISO 14064-3 and CEPI’s Carbon Footprint Framework.

All emissions factors used are the most up to date available from referenced sources including : Defra; WBCSD/WRI; Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Swiss Centre for Life Cycle Inventories (SCLCI).

Carbon Balancing is a form of carbon offsetting in which you can have total confidence.

Our partner is the World Land Trust, an international conservation charity dedicated to saving threatened habitats and their biodiversity. Sir David Attenborough OM, CH, FRS is among its Patrons, and its integrity and credibility provide customers using Carbon Balanced Paper with complete peace of mind.

The World Land Trust, is first and foremost, a conservation organization set up to protect threatened natural habitats together with associated wildlife. Working hand-in-hand with its overseas partner organisations, the Trust has saved over 400,000 acres of habitat throughout the world for incorporation into permanent nature reserves. All Carbon Balanced projects offset carbon dioxide emissions by restoring forest and/or preventing the clearance of areas at risk of deforestation. In so doing, carbon is retained in the existing vegetation, rather than released through burning or decay, while atmospheric carbon dioxide is stored within growing plant material. These actions also protect and enhance existing natural habitats, thereby promoting the Trust’s wildlife conservation objectives.

World Land Trust Carbon Balanced project design follows the principles of the internationally recognised Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) standard for voluntary carbon offsetting (more information on the CCBA standard can be found at http://www.climate-standards.org). In adhering to this standard, WLT implements measures to ensure that its projects address key carbon accounting criteria such as Additionality, Leakage, Permanence and robust monitoring, while providing additional biodiversity and local community benefits.

The main technique used by the WLT in Carbon Balancing – avoided deforestation, or REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) – has been recognised as one of the swiftest and most cost-effective ways to arrest the rise in atmospheric CO2 and global warming effects. It is a key component in international efforts to address climate change and is strongly supported by the UN and most national governments, including that of the United Kingdom.

For more details visit the World Land Trust’s Carbon Balanced website www.carbonbalanced.org and specifically the page science, which has detailed questions and answers.

The World Land Trust is an international conservation charity (Reg. No. 1001291, based in Halesworth, Suffolk, UK. The website is www.worldlandtrust.org

Since its foundation is 1989 as the World Wide Land Conservation Trust, the World Land Trust has been working to preserve the world’s most biologically important and threatened lands, and has helped purchase and protects over 400,000 acres of habitats rich in wildlife in Asia, Central and South America and the UK.

More details on the World Land Trust Carbon Balanced programme are on www.carbonbalanced.org

Material Types



Choose Sustainable: European forestry used by the UK paper and board industry are sustainable, every year more trees are planted than harvested. In 2017 European forests grew by an estimated 1500 football pitches a day. That’s an area the size of Wales every 5 years!

Choose Clean Oceans: With an estimated 8 million metric tonnes of plastic entering our oceans every year, taking approx 500-1000 years to biodegrade, the switch to cartons is a responsible choice. A carton printed with vegetable based inks and water based coatings can take as little as 2-6 weeks to completely biodegrade, leaving zero hazardous waste.

Choose Vegetable Inks: At Curtis we only use vegetable based inks in our printing process. The inks are derived from renewable resources such as corn and linseed. Cartons printed with vegetable based inks are much easier to recycle than those printed with solvent based inks.

Choose FSC: Forests, Forever, For all. Wherever you see the FSC label (see above) you can be reassured that the trees used to make the card have been responsibly harvested, replaced and large parts of the forest left untouched to protect animals and plants. In fact FSC is the only certification scheme endorsed by the WWF, Greenpeace and the Woodland Trust.

Choose Recyclable: Cartonboard is one of the easiest and cleanest materials to recycle. The cellulose fibres found in an ordinary carton can be recycled up to 7 times. In 2017 the UK recycled just over 2.5 million tonnes of paper and card.

Choose Aqueous Coating: Available in gloss, satin, matt and pearl finishes. Aqueous based coatings are affordable, environmentally friendly and easy to recycle.

Choose World Land Trust: The World Land Trust patron Sir David Attenborough is passionate about preserving the worlds critically threatened forests. Since 2013 Curtis has helped save over 150,000 square metres of these forests by balancing our emissions through the World Land Trust’s carbon balanced card initiative. Our Customers can take part in this amazing scheme and your carton can carry the coveted WLT logo. (see above)

Embossing can be subtle or impactful, turning flat print into 3D images that draw consumers in and invite them to touch and interact with the packaging.

Some simple embossing can be produced inline during the die cutting process making it one of the most cost effective print decorations available with almost zero environmental impact.

Film lamination provides excellent print finish protection and comes in a wide range of tactile finishes.

As long as film lamination is applied to only one side of the printed sheet the recyclability of the carton will not be affected.

To ensure cartons are biodegradable select a cellulose based lamination which is suitable for composting.

Foil blocking can transform a simple carton into a stunning eye-catching work of art. Research has been done on the effects of foil when printed on cartons.

The findings indicate that the hot stamping foil content of the printed product has no detrimental effect on the ability to recycle the packaging.

The foil breaks down easily during the recycling process.

Click a card to flip it over and read more details


Papers of 220 gsm and above are often referred to as board.

Box compression Test

Strength test, the maximum loading before collapse.


Curtis Assured Quality Level – a programme strictly adhered to during production to ensure best results.

Carton Board

A paper product made from one or more layers of fibrous cellulose material.

Cutter Guide

A detailed line drawing showing a plan view of design / style of case before erection. Graphics are applied to this.


Machine for stamping complicated designs from corrugated board.or carton board


The European Trade Association for Corrugated Board manufacture, www.fefco.org

FEFCO case codes (styles)

A standard set of patterns used within the corrugated industry, usually identified with a four-digit number (e.g. 0201). Details at www.fefco.org/index.php?id=65&no_cache=1

Fluting Medium

Paper that can be corrugated with heat and pressure to provide the central layer in corrugated board. It separates the liners and provides the strength and rigidity. There are five common configurations, see Fig. 1

Forme/ cutting die

A cutting / creasing tool used on a die-cutter for complicated designs.


Forest Stewardship Council - an international, non-governmental organisation dedicated to promoting responsible management of the world’s forests. The FSC logo on a label on wood products, such as paper, means you are not contributing to the destruction of the world’s forests.
FSC boards include:
Cream back folding box board – virgin material
White back folding box board – bleached fibres
Carrier boards – possess strong tear resistance
FSC accredited 100% recycled board

Gluer / Erector

An automated machine for gluing and sealing cases or cartons.

Grammage (gsm)

Mass per unit area of a paper, given as grammes per square metre (gsm or g/m2).

Hand Erect

A pack / carton erected / assembled by hand, most commonly used for complex design or small runs. See also machine erect.


Internationally recognised standard for effective environmental management systems

Inner Liner

Paper material used for the inside of corrugated board. It is less important, in terms of appearance, than the outer liner but will have to conform to regulatory requirements if it is designed for food contact.


Originally 100% pure wood pulp now may contain some recycled fibre. It may be white or brown depending on the treatment.

Locking Tabs

A device that is incorporated into the design of a pack to hold it together during construction, and add security.


One of the paper materials from which corrugated board is made, see outer liner and inner liner; kraft & test.

Machine Erect

A pack / carton erected by a fully / partially mechanical machine. See also hand erect.

Mock up

A design dummy of the finished product. Normally hand made or produced on a Cad cam machine

Outer Liner

Paper material used for the outside of corrugated board, generally high quality as it is printed with graphics.


Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes - an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation, founded in 1999, promoting sustainably managed forests through independent third party certification. The PEFC provides an assurance mechanism to purchasers of wood and paper products that they are promoting the sustainable management of forests.


Used to help either the folding of a case or the removal of panels for display purposes.

Primary Pack

That which the consumer takes home, consumer unit (e.g. bottle, carton but could be a multi-pack).


Pulp is the most common material used to make paper. The timber resources used to make wood pulp are referred to as pulpwood. Wood pulp generally comes from softwood trees such as spruce, pine, fir, larch and hemlock, but also some hardwoods such as eucalyptus and birch.


Retail Ready Packaging.

Secondary Pack

Second level of packaging designed to contain primary pack (e.g. shrink wrapped corrugated tray).

Single face

In the manufacture of Corrugated board, one piece of fluting glued to one liner only, see Fig. 2 (Not to be confused with the same term in relation to presentation of an on-shelf pack)

Single wall

Conventional method of making corrugated board, fluting medium is sandwiched between two liners (liner-fluting-liner).


Shelf Ready Packaging

Tertiary Pack

Transit Container (e.g. large corrugated case), may also be known as break-pack.

Tear Strip

TA device that is either made up of plastic tape applied to the inside of the case during manufacture, which enables the finished pack to be opened quickly. The same effect can be achieved using perforations.

Test Liner

Paper made either from a combination of wood pulp and recycled fibre or entirely recycled fibre

Chemical Free plate making

Curtis is one of the first packaging companies to install processless plates, which do not require chemicals.

Flexographic printing

Often abbreviated to flexo, is a method of printing most commonly used for packaging.A flexo print is achieved by creating a mirrored master of the required image as a 3D relief in a rubber or polymer material. A measured amount of ink is deposited upon the surface of the printing plate (or printing cylinder) using an anilox roll. The print surface then rotates, contacting the print material which transfers the ink.


printing rollers or plate cylinders are engraved with a design and filled with ink. A doctor blade wipes the excess ink from the cylindrical printing surface. The remaining ink is then deposited on a flexible film as it passes between the engraved roll and back up roll. Gravure printing is used for long run printing applications.


Plastic film placed over finished printing matt, gloss and biodegradable finishes

Litho Print

High Quality Print ideally suited to full process work on medium / large sized production scale manufacturing runs

Set up costs

The bulk of work for any print job is normally setting up the machinery. This explains why shorter runs are so much more expensive per item than producing larger quantities of the same item.

Silk Screen

High Quality Print ideally suited for large format packaging (Dump Bins) ideally suited smaller production runs

Soya based inks

Soy ink is made from soybeans, as opposed to traditional petroleum-based ink. Soy-based ink is more environmentally friendly, is available in brighter colours, and makes it easier to recycle the pack.


PMS (pantone matching system) allows for a standard range of colour formulations, to ensure consistency of colour matching.

Process Set (CMYK)

(short for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key) is a subtractive colour model used in colour printing. This colour model is based on mixing pigments of the following colours in order to make other colours: C = Cyan M = Magenta Y = Yellow K = Key (Black). – ie 4 colour process used for images and pictures . Some pantone colours can be achieved using cmyk.

UV Varnish

A liquid application applied all over or a spot area of print which results in a high gloss finish.

Machine Varnish

A liquid application applied over print, which produces a matt, gloss or satin finish and helps prevent ink rub.

Waste compactor

Purpose designed system to collect offcuts at source, shred, compact and pulp saving 80% on previous waste collection

Petroleum Based Inks:

Did you realise that standard, oil based inks contain substances that are harmful to human health and the environment? These include: chromium, lead, mercury and cadmium amongst others.

They are the most commonly used inks because they dry fast and enable projects to be completed quickly. However, the petrol and alcohol content in them evaporates as they dry, which emits up to 40% VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) into the atmosphere.

VOCs present a health hazard to pressroom workers and react with nitrogen oxides in the presence of sunshine, creating ozone pollution and smog.

Finally, petroleum based ink is also harder to de-ink when it is recycled. This results in toxic waste from the amount of chemicals needed.

Vegetable or Soya based inks (ECO Inks)

The environmentally friendly alternative is vegetable based ink. This can be made from a variety of vegetable oils such as:

  • Soy Bean
  • Coconut
  • Corn
  • Walnut
  • Linseed
  • Canola

Vegetable based ink takes longer to dry but only emits approximately 2-4% VOCs into the atmosphere – significantly less than oil inks.

Vegetable oils are non-hazardous and what’s more, they’re a renewable resource, unlike petroleum which is a finite resource. In addition, vegetable based ink is much easier to de-ink when recycling than oil based inks, and therefore there is much less toxic waste produced.

So next time you send a project to print, stop and think about the environment. Choose an environmentally friendly printer, who uses vegetable based inks.