How Sustainable are Corrugated Boxes? Here’s What Their Life Cycle Looks Like…

Purchasing managers already juggle budgets, inventories, vendors, and more. But lately they face a growing pressure to add another dimension to their decisions

Their companies want them to focus on sustainability.

But that doesn’t have to mean seeking out entirely new sustainable solutions. Especially when it comes to custom packaging.

Corrugated boxes have been quietly sustainable for decades. But over the last 20 years, progress in recycling, energy efficiency, and sustainable forestry has cut the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions by an incredible 50%.

Here’s what the life cycle of a corrugated box looks like, and why it’s becoming the go-to sustainable shipping option for top companies.

The Circular Life of Corrugated Boxes

Corrugated boxes are the most recycled packaging material in the United States.

The Environmental Protection Agency calculates that up to 96% of corrugated material in the US is recovered for recycling.

This gives corrugated boxes a remarkably circular life cycle. Here’s what it looks like.

It Starts With Paper

At their core, corrugated boxes are just layers of paper.

There are two keys to making sure the paper in your boxes is sustainable.

First, you want to make sure the raw materials come from sustainably managed forests. That’s why most of our paper suppliers are certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI). The SFI is an independent certification that’s leading that charge to ensure healthy, renewable, productive forests for generations to come.

Secondly, you want your paper to include recycled material. Depending on your specifications, your custom corrugated boxes from Pacific Box can include up to 65% recycled materials.

Turning Paper into Custom Designed, Protective Boxes

The magic in custom corrugated boxes is turning layers of paper into a strong, protective structure for your products. And then turning that into boxes printed, cut, and folded to your exact specifications.

Like all manufacturing, this process requires energy and produces waste. So it’s important to work with a box maker with a proven track record of sustainable practices.

Pacific Box, for instance, invests in energy saving technology and state of the art wastewater treatment to minimize our environmental footprint. We were honored to receive the Tahoma Environmental Award in recognition of our ongoing commitment to sustainability.

Putting the Boxes to Work in Your Business 

Once you receive your boxes you can put them to work shipping your products to retailers and consumers.

Odds are you already have sustainable practices built into your shipping systems. But one thing that’s helped many of our clients take a big step forward in their sustainability is right-sizing their packaging.

By designing and stocking custom boxes that fit the dimensions of their products more closely, not only do they reduce the amount of plastic and other filler material in their boxes, but their shipments take up less space in transit, reducing overall emissions.

Widespread Recycling Makes Old Boxes New Again

Thanks to efforts by the corrugated industry together with local governments and cultural institutions, corrugated boxes are recycled more than any other packaging material.

Boxes are rounded up and sent back to paper mills, where they’re turned back into paper and the cycle begins again.

Amazingly, the material in your corrugated boxes can be recycled into new boxes 5–7 times before the underlying fibers lose the necessary strength and are put to different uses.

Choose the Sustainable Custom Packaging Solution

This circular life cycle is why a lot of people call corrugated boxes the most sustainable packaging option.

Especially if you’re looking for custom packaging that does more than just protect your products during transit. Corrugated boxes give you the performance and options you need without sacrificing sustainability.

If you’re curious how to make your shipping more sustainable with corrugated boxes, get in touch today and we’ll help you make the right plan for your business.

Contact Us

Thank you for considering Pacific Box for your custom packaging and display solutions. We’re looking forward to learning more about your project needs.

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