How to Make Your Corrugated Shipping Boxes More Sustainable

Corrugated shipping boxes are used to transport and store a multitude of products; this widespread usage adds up to a lot of packaging consumption. If you use corrugated containers in your operation and would like to improve your sustainable profile, you have a number of options available that need not compromise the integrity of your packaging.

Change board construction. Many manufacturers and distributors gravitate to standard 32 ECT/200# test board construction without really needing it. For intra-plant shipments, lightweight products and shipments that undergo minimal stress, lighter weight corrugated board can be perfectly functional, greatly reducing the amount of material you consume – as well as reducing purchase cost.

Change box style. Changing the design of a shipping container can have a significant impact on the amount of corrugated board involved. Alternate designs to consider include:
• Converting from full overlap containers to regular slotted cartons (RSCs). On large width boxes in particular, reducing the dimensions of the flaps can produce a surprisingly large reduction in board.
• Converting from RSCs to bookfolds. For low profile items, bookfolds are not only a board-stingy option, they result in greater packaging efficiency in some operations.
• Converting boxes to trays. The food and beverage industries have made great strides in sustainable packaging by eliminating various styles of boxes with corrugated trays. This type of switch usually requires significant adjustments to the packaging operation and product handling, but the advantages to sustainability, efficiency and cost can make it worthwhile.

Eliminate corrugated containers. In some operations, boxes can be replaced by chipboard slipsheets, reusable plastic containers, shrink bundling, padded shipping bags, or bulk containers. While the sustainability gains are dramatic, economic factors, along with impact on operations and downstream supply chain components, must be evaluated carefully.

Many firms focus their sustainable attention on primary packaging, which usually involves a higher spend and has more visibility with consumers. However, secondary packaging, and corrugated containers in particular, should not be ignored, as they represent a substantial amount of material and dollars.

In addition, consider the visibility factor of your corrugated containers. If consumers see them, it may be the first impression they have of your organization. In today’s environmentally minded market, making the right impression could be the difference between a long-term customer and a one-time order.

Chris Bekermeier is Vice President, Sales & Marketing of PacMoore, headquartered in Hammond, IN. PacMoore is a contract manufacturer focused on processing dry ingredients for the food & pharmaceutical industries.

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