Since the majority of consumer goods leave their respective factories packed in cardboard boxes, it seems logical that people have concerns about just where those millions of cardboard boxes will end up. The majority of consumer goods include cardboard for at least a portion of the packaging, even if this package also includes plastic, such as blister packs. Anyone with experience using cardboard boxes knowns that all cardboard is not alike. Are there some cardboards that recycle better than others? Let’s take a look at corrugated cardboard and see how using this variety of cardboard can actually help the environment.
As we all know, generally, most cardboard boxes live more than one life. We use boxes to pack when we move, to store our treasures on a closet shelf or in an attic, or as a puppy birthing nest. We might use a worn-out box to help start a fire in the fireplace, wood stove, or campfire. Make-shift file cabinet, floor protector when cleaning or painting, stiffening a large envelope when mailing a photo, or even a play fort: these are just a few of the second-life uses for cardboard boxes. But aside from all these homey uses, what about all the boxes that we just flatten and put out for the trash man to pick up?
Because we make corrugated cardboard without any dyes and bleaches, it is great for recycling. It is biodegradable too. Yet, the fibers of corrugated cardboard are strong enough for reuse, sometimes many times over. As was already noted, anyone can reuse cardboard boxes, something that reduces the need to harvest more trees to make new boxes. We make most corrugated cardboard from recycled paper, so you start with a “green” product already. After each box lives its useful life, we can recycle it again, thus completing its lifecycle.
Corrugated cardboard is made from paper pulp primarily created from pine trees, which is a fast-growing tree. This means that as teams harvest mature trees, they plant a new crop of seedlings in an ever-renewing cycle. We can also make corrugated cardboard from wood chips or leftovers from a variety of processes that make paper. Corrugated cardboard made from recycled material uses less energy in the manufacturing process as well. Many factories that make corrugated cardboard use local recycled materials, which saves fuel for transporting virgin materials over long distances.
Companies use corrugated cardboard to create boxes of custom sizes to meet individual business needs. Corrugated cardboard is sturdy, allowing it to protect the contents from damage in shipment or storage. Manufacturers can produce boxes in uniform sizes for specific uses, which allows shipping companies and retailers to stack them, minimizing space in warehouses, semi-truck trailers, and shipping containers. These features make corrugated cardboard a natural and sensible choice for both manufacturers and distributors. At the same time, they encourage its continued use in packaging for the future, ensuring we will see this packaging material for years to come.