Almost every one of us, at least once in our lives, has packed and unpacked some stuff into and from a cardboard box. From storage and house moving to gift-giving and having food to go, cardboard boxes are and—seems like will be forever— a part of our lives.
But what exactly is the environmental impact of our prevalent dependence on cardboard boxes. Are we better off with other alternatives, or is it already the pinnacle of sustainable packaging solutions? In this article, we’ll talk about the advantages and disadvantages—if any—that cardboard boxes have regarding helping conserve environmental resources and minimise waste.
The Popularity and Efficiency of Plastic Packaging
Plastic-based packaging has made great leaps ever since the cellulose-derived material debuted in the Great International Exhibition in London back in 1862. The cost-effectiveness of producing plastic packaging products, its durability, and its capacity to be shaped into any form and play virtually any function made it a popular choice among commercial suppliers. So, coming from a business standpoint, plastic packaging is the better option.
But at what expense?
With all the consumer products and packaging materials leaning on plastic, the world produces as much as 381 million tonnes of plastic waste annually. Urban—and even rural—solid waste riddled with plastic refuse and products poses a dangerous impact on the environment for several reasons.
An often-overlooked aspect of plastic is that they are mostly made from fossil fuels. Their production and incineration add 850 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere per year.
Also, because it takes many years to decompose, it fills up landfills and dumps at a rate that’s never seen with other waste materials. In addition, when plastic waste is incinerated or left to perish under the sun, it releases a cocktail of toxic and potentially carcinogenic gasses and substances into the air and soil, harming the ecosystem.
Aside from the accumulation of toxic substances and the occupation of hectares of space, plastics disposed of indiscriminately pose a direct risk of harming animals. Marine animals are known to get tangled and drown in plastic bags, choke on plastic debris, suffer from lacerations and see a decrease in reproductive success.
Plastic pollution is undeniably a global problem, and as part of the worldwide ecosystem, we must step up and take our role in reducing our plastic footprints. And this is where the more sustainable packaging counterpart, cardboard, comes in.
How environmentally friendly are recycled cardboard boxes?
When produced sustainably and ethically, cardboard comes from 100% renewable sources and has now enjoyed technological advancements, which enables them to step up to the tasks of preserving goods during transportation, long-term packaging and materials storage. Here are some of the advantages cardboard has for the environment.
- It is one of the packaging products with the least environmental impact. Manufacturing cardboard sees 60% less carbon dioxide and oil emissions compared to other materials.
- Cardboard is 100% biodegradable and recyclable. In the worst conditions, corrugated cardboard takes a year to fully decompose and faster when conditions are more favourable.
- The capability to be reused and recycled means a significantly smaller waste footprint compared to plastics and other single-use packaging materials.
- Recycled packing boxes also keep the exact properties they had before—same durability and resistance—meaning it’s as good as new each time.
- As opposed to manufacturing new ones, recycling cardboard requires 90% less water and 50% less electricity.
Essentially, the most significant advantage cardboard packaging has over its plastic counterpart is that it’s easily recyclable, which helps minimise global waste and pollution. It can offer substantial product protection, storage and transportation efficiency, toughness and rigidity without the environmental setbacks.
And you’d be pleased to learn that recycled packing boxes are considerably cheaper than new ones while still allowing you the same reliability.
Where can I buy eco-friendly packaging boxes?
Boxfactory is a fourth-generation Queensland-family-owned and operated business providing cardboard packaging solutions, including recycled cardboard boxes, for more than 90 years. You can trust us to provide you with high-quality recycled packing boxes for various needs and applications. Whether you’re using them for standard or specialised purposes, you can rest assured that product quality is at par that any new box can provide.
- Recycled Packing Boxes Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and Beyond