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Reducing Corrugated Consumption - 4 Ways to Get More From Less

Corrugated boxes are so widely used for shipping, most of us barely notice them. However, if your company uses corrugated, chances are you can use less of it. Here are four commonly used approaches to cutting back on corrugated. Not only do these options save trees and reduce cost, they have the potential to improve your packaging performance.

Use Lighter Board
The traditional standard for most corrugated containers is the Mullen test, which measures the bursting strength of the corrugated material used to make a particular box. Another standard now commonly in use is the Edge Crush Test (ECT), which measures a box's stacking strength. A box conforming to the ECT standard is comprised of less paperboard than its Mullen equivalent, yet depending on the application its performance may be equal or superior.

Consider a Bookfold
A bookfold , or one-piece folder, is a flat corrugated sheet with four scored flaps that wrap around the item(s) being packaged. Bookfolds are so called because they are widely used to package books, documents, posters, and other printed materials. But bookfolds are quite suitable for shipping most any type of products less than 4" in height . The sustainable advantage: bookfolds require far less corrugated board than a box designed for the same job. Functionally, bookfolds offer the advantage of wrapping tightly around the product, eliminating the need for void fill materials.

Try a Tray
A corrugated tray is a design you are familiar with if you have ever bought a case of soft drinks or bottled water. If your products ship on pallets, trays in conjunction with a shrink film overwrap reduce corrugated usage by 60% or more. Trays offer other potential advantages, including product visibility and ventilation. You may not be as locked into a box as you think. Remember, there once was a time when soft drinks and bottled water were shipped in ... corrugated boxes!

Did you ever order something online and receive it in a box 5 or 10 times the size of the product? Large scale distribution centers often limit the number of shipping containers they use for the sake of efficiency. However, whether your shipping volume is large or small, using the right materials for cushioning and/or void fill enables you to reduce the size of your corrugated boxes, sometimes dramatically -- along with improving package integrity and (sometimes) increasing line speed.

There are many other design options and packaging strategies to consider for reducing corrugated usage. Whether you have a full blown sustainable packaging initiative or simply want to do what you can to help the environment, pay attention to those brown boxes. They can contribute to your efforts more than you might think.

Brad Shorr is a sales and marketing consultant based near Chicago, Illinois. With an extensive background in B2B and the packaging industry, he specializes in sales coaching and training, online marketing strategy, and business blog development. To learn more visit his Web site at

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