Our Sustainable Shipping Boxes and Recycled Mailers Are Now More Sustainable
Continuous improvement is a well worn phrase that means a lot of different things to different people. Even though the packaging industry is launching brand new green products on an almost daily basis, this post is more about redesign and enhancement of existing products, rather than new product innovation.
Here are two perfect examples of manufacturing taking a good, green product and making it better and greener.
Globe Guard 100% PCW Corrugated Board
[caption id="attachment_946" align="alignright" width="275" caption="Globe Guard Shipping Boxes Now Easier to Reuse"][/caption]Our manufacturer is not eager to share details but the structure of our board has been “re-arranged” to provide a stronger and thicker outer sheet to our boxes and less “wash boarding”. Not to be confused with Dick Cheney’s favorite past time, water boarding, wash boarding is when the vertical fluting on board is visible through the outer liner sheet.
Keep in mind that our 32 ECT board is still 32 ECT so there was no weakness being addressed or strength gained. This is an improvement made to provide a little more outward/in puncture resistance and for cosmetic reasons. Our boxes look better for a longer period of time and possibly improve the possibility of them being re-used. Re use is good and this is a significant green improvement to what was already an excellent, industry leading product.
[caption id="attachment_926" align="alignnone" width="350" caption="Staples Packaging Leaves Much to Be Desired"][/caption]
Earlier this year, January 13th to be exact, I posted an article complaining about some very eco unfriendly secondary packaging I had received from one of our favorite suppliers, Staples.
Large retailers often appear to be leading the green charge so the interest level they create is usually high and this was no exception. The post was soon picked up by Green Biz and other eco focused blogs and I even contacted them on at least two occasions and offered my services at no cost so I could help them determine where Staples' in house fulfillment “eco system” is obviously broken.
I was told they were “working on it,” so as a loyal customer concerned about their secondary packaging as well as the environment, I waited, and waited until this week when we received delivery of an order we placed for two boxes of ink cartridges.
Staples Green Update – More Green Packaging Problems
The photo above show the two boxes of Canon ink cartridges which shipped from two different Staples facilities. I appreciate the fact that the order was split-shipped to be filled quickly but I find I hard to believe that neither facility had both items. I am not sure what type of carbon footprint that creates but the worse news is that each facility used a different way of packaging the product and neither passed the green test as far as we are concerned. The term one step forward and two steps backwards comes to mind when we compare it to the packaging described in our January blog post.
Package #1 Shipping from Beloit, WI
At this Staples distribution center the packer opted to use a plastic mailer envelope. Even though I don’t like flexible mailers for crushable product, I am generally a big proponent of mailer envelopes, plastic and paper. I like them because they are light weight, can be made of recycled content and in most areas may be recycled for creating more packaging or other plastic products. However, the mailer that Beloit used did not indicate any recycled content, and did not even offer a recycle code for handling the waste after use.
This is a real shame considering some of the new plastic mailers that are available. We offer several that would be better eco options than what was used on this shipment.
Package #2 Shipping from Carol Stream, IL
At this facility they used a 13” long X 10” wide X 5” box (650 cubic inches) to ship a 4” X 2.25” X 2.75” product, or about 25 cubic inches, which is obviously much more box than was necessary.
Our focus has always been on sustainability, combined with application. Each customer requirement is slightly different so it became necessary for us to have available three different types of board, as well as several different grades, so we could provide the best green product for any specific and challenging application.
[caption id="attachment_892" align="alignnone" width="325" caption="100% Recyclable"][/caption]
For certain customer applications such as those requiring a white exterior on the box, no one is able to provide a product that is 100% PCW recycled content or even 100% recycled content. I have written several times on how a white exterior on any box requires a virgin (white) outer sheet so the greatest possible recycled content is 60 to 70%. It is important to note that this is still considerably better and greener than the average, “standard” box which is typically 30 to 40% recycled content.
[caption id="attachment_893" align="alignnone" width="325" caption="100% Recycled and Recyclable"][/caption]
Customers who use corrugated mailers often do so because they are looking for something a little more attractive than the average RSC style box. For those customers, appearance is every bit as important as function. Most customers are willing to forgo the outer, white (virgin) exterior in the interest of sustainability but they are not eager to compromise on appearance. We have determined that our 100% recycled content board enables us to die cut mailers just a little cleaner and neater so that is what we prefer to utilize for any die cut design.
A good customer friend recently recommended us to a customer of his and referred to us as “a great supplier of eco friendly boxes”. Certainly that description is accurate in that we are probably best known for our unique, Globe Guard 100% PCW shipping boxes. However, there is a distinct and real difference between selling eco friendly boxes and selling eco friendly packaging.
Green Shipping Boxes and a Whole Lot More
When a potential customer calls us or visits our Globe Guard Products web store, they usually have a very good idea of what they want and if they find it there, they are able to point, click and the product they need will soon be in their hands. We are indeed a good supplier of green boxes but we also offer a large variety of other eco friendly products on that same site. This includes a large selection of box alternatives and quite frankly, you are not going to get that from your average box maker or seller.
When a box is truly required to ship a product, we also understand the average customer also needs tape to seal the box, void fill to protect the contents and even labels to be able to address the box. Just in the area of void fill alone, we offer one of the widest varieties of loose, molded, paper and eco friendly plastic solutions. Each is in stock and we will gladly and enthusiastically explain the pros and cons of each product for your specific application.
[caption id="attachment_878" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Globe Guard product photo courtesy of Jeffery Levin"][/caption]
Stock versus Custom Corrugated
[caption id="attachment_785" align="alignnone" width="355" caption="Five New Green Shipping Boxes Now in Stock!"][/caption]
It is often said that good things come in small packages. If that is true, we have just provided you with some great new ways to ship them in green, eco friendly, 100% PCW boxes. We discovered that our 6” cube box was still too large for some products, so we added a 4” and 5” cube. At the other end of the size spectrum we also added a 16”, 18” and 20” cube shipping boxes as well.
12 Stock Sizes of Cube Shipping Boxes
Our cube box line up now includes: 4”, 5”, 6”, 8”, 9”, 10” 12”, 13”, 14”, 16”, 18”, and 20” cube boxes, in stock and ready to ship immediately.
Why Is It Important to Use the Correct Size Box?
Using the smallest possible size shipping box offers many sustainable and economic advantages.
Obviously, cost. Typically the smaller the box, the lower the cost
The smaller box uses less tape to seal it
The smaller box requires less void fill product
In some cases it reduces shipping cost
A smaller box can reduce the required storage area
It delivers minimal packaging to your eco minded customers
It had been a while since I wrote on this subject but a recent experience reminded me it was time again. I spoke to a potential customer who wanted our Globe Guard, 100% PCW shipping boxes.
The problem (he thought) was that he needed a different size and a heavier grade not listed on our green packaging, e-commerce site. Since the boxes were for the launch of a new, unproven product, he was concerned about having to order large initial quantities. I could see he was very worried about cost, especially when he admitted he would love to add his logo on two sides of the new box.
The fear left his face and he smiled when I told him none of his perceptions about custom size, custom grade, custom printed, green packaging were true.
When and Why Custom Grade, Eco Friendly Boxes Make Sense
Even though 32 ECT is the most popular grade, we know there are times when a heavier duty box is necessary. We offer a standard upgrade 44 ECT and have even worked with double wall construction designs when needed. The price jump from 32 to 44 ECT is usually less than 10% or in most cases, a few cents per box. This also puts to rest another old packaging wives’ tale – “my application is to tough for recycled corrugated board”. Nonsense! We can tailor the box thickness and grade to the application because we do not just offer what we have in stock.
Custom Size Shipping Boxes
We currently offer 24 of the most popular sizes on our green packaging store and that will increase to at least 30 in the next month or two. However, 50% of the boxes we sell are not stock boxes at all. We make them to our customers exact size requirements and have made as few as one hundred boxes for customers with a short run need. Don’t believe anyone who tells you you have to buy hundreds or thousands of boxes to get the size you need. We do it for our customers every day of the week. Those large internet and catalog companies who offer “hundreds of sizes in stock” are terrific but not if the size you need for your product is not on their stock list.
Custom Print Shipping Boxes
Both materials can be excellent eco-friendly packaging. Paperboard packaging is what you see on a FedEx or USPS style flat mailer envelope, or a typical cereal box. By comparison corrugated board has fluting and is what a standard brown box is made of.
The line used to be fairly clear – paperboard was used for primary/retail/display packaging and corrugated was used strictly for secondary packaging such as for shipping boxes simply expected to get products from point A to point B.
As paperboard has become thicker, while corrugated has grown thinner, and both materials are engineered better and more visually appealing, you now see paperboard being used often for shipping purposes such as in mailers, tubes and other structures. There is also growing trend to use corrugated for retail packaging for its “greener look” (see image below).
It may seem ironic that any company that sells boxes would help you minimize their use, but we are committed to providing application appropriate solutions, not just what we may happen to have on our website or in our warehouse. Brad Shorr recently posted a terrific article titled 7 Ways to Reduce Corrugated Box Usage, and I encourage you to read it. But let's take it a step further and talk about how not only reduce corrugated usage, but eliminate corrugated usage completely.
I am amazed at how often people use RSC style boxes when they are not really necessary. Probably because of their popularity and availability, boxes seem to be the standard or "go to" method of shipment, but there are times and applications when they are NOT the best choice. The cost of using a box usually includes the box, tape, cushioning materials or void fill, and a good deal of labor to form and seal the bottom, fill it with product and void fill, seal the top of the box and then label it. An envelope style mailer is typically less expensive from both a material and labor cost perspective, and is an underutilized alternative to standard boxes.