Cardboard boxes have become such an essential part of our daily life that we easily take them for granted. But do you actually know what a box goes through to get to your door and what happens after you use it?
The life of a box is far more interesting (and amazing!) than most people think. Once you realise how a box gets to your hands and what happens to them afterwards, you’ll gain a whole new appreciation for these incredibly useful objects.
How Cardboard Boxes Start Out
Cardboard boxes are made of – you guessed it! – cardboard.Cardboard is made from tree pulp, which a paper mill processes from trees using special processing techniques that include extraction, drying, and flattening raw tree material.
Different machines then further process tree pulp to produce different parts of a cardboard box. Corrugated machines, for example, are used to create the fluting (the wavy layers inside cardboard parts), while other machines create paperboard and other parts of the box.
A Box is Born – Designing and Assembling a Box
Once these cardboard materials are made, it’s time to put them together. First, cardboard layers are created by pressing and gluing different pieces of cardboard material together. The flute is typically sandwiched between two flat cardboard pieces, creating a stronger and more durable cardboard layer for assembly.
These cardboard layers are then trimmed to the dimensions of the box being made. Handholes or flaps are also added if the type of box being assembled features these parts.
Box makers can customise this step of the process to create different styles of boxes and accommodate special requirements from customers. Once they’re assembled and set up to a client’s specifications, they’re all ready to go for use or sale.
Making Their Way to You
A cardboard box can get to you in several different ways. The most common way that cardboard boxes reach your door is through product packaging. Cardboard boxes are among the most commonly used packaging materials for storing and transporting goods.
They’re used by almost every type of industry, from food manufacturers to technology suppliers. Whether you’re buying appliances, buying food in the grocery, or purchasing products online, chances are cardboard boxes will be used to transport it and find its way to you.
You can also buy boxes online getting them from box sellers and companies who supply them such as Box Factory. These sellers offer cardboard boxes in a variety of types and sizes, letting you choose the right one for your needs. Whether you’re moving house or reorganising your home, you’ll find plenty of cardboard boxes perfect for the job.
Use or Reuse? – The Crossroads Every Box Faces
Once they’ve reached your home and served their purpose, cardboard boxes are either disposed of or reused. The most common way cardboard boxes are disposed of is by placing them in a recycling bin, which helps direct them to recycling centres.
In other cases, cardboard boxes are reused and repurposed, using them for additional storage solutions in homes or even as toys for young kids and toddlers. Whether you dispose of cardboard boxes soon after using them or later after repurposing them, they’ll likely find their way at your recycling bin to get recycled.
But that’s not where its life ends.
Recycling to Find Its Second (or Third) Life
Once cardboard boxes are disposed of and collected in recycling centres, they’re sent back to paper mills to be recycled. To get recycled, they go through a lengthy process that includes being soaked in water and chemical solution to breaks it down and remove colouring, labels and staples.
Once they’re properly broken down, they’re then mixed in with new tree pulp fibres to give them new strength and life.
Most cardboard boxes can be recycled several times before they lose all their strength and become unusable. Boxes that are not extensively worn or damaged may also be cleaned or refurbished to be sold as recycled boxes.
So Much More Than a Simple Cardboard Box
As you can see, a cardboard box goes through a lot before it even lands on your doorstep. And when you’re done with it, it has even more to offer by being recycled into new cardboard boxes or reused in other activities. The amazing thing is that an old box you used before may even find their way back to you if you use recycled boxes.
This circle of life for cardboard boxes makes them one of the most practical and useful tools we have today, and it’s one of the reasons why they’re loved and used by everyone in the modern world.