Most of today’s boxes are made from around 50 percent of recycled corrugated material. Recycled corrugated has become a standard in the packaging industry over the past few years, especially with different companies and governing bodies requiring the use of recycled materials.

Although, there are few things you should probably know about it if you plan to work with recycled boxes for the first time. Here’s what you need to understand about recycled corrugated and how it changes your packaging operations. 

Recycled Corrugated is Different

Boxes made with recycled fibers are different than virgin corrugated boxes, which means they require unique packaging solutions. Even if you think you aren’t receiving recycled containers from your box manufacturer, it’s likely that you are unless otherwise stated in your contract.

The fibers used to make corrugated boxes can be reused multiple times. Once these fibers are re-pulped and used to create new paper material, they become shorter in their overall structure. When these fibers are used again and again, they continue to shorten and become weaker. Since paper can be reused over 5 times before it needs to be discarded, these fibers can become incredibly short before the end of their lifespan.

Because of this process, boxes made from recycled fibers provide a few challenges to overcome. One of the biggest challenges you’ll face when working with recycled corrugated boxes is finding a tape that will stick effectively to the container. Recycled fibers are harder to adhere to because they present a rugged surface where the adhesive of your tape struggles to sink in. You’ll need a tape with a higher wet out, so the adhesive can perform at optimal levels. Many tape manufacturers have produced tapes specifically for use with recycled containers, so finding a solution for your packaging operations is easier than you might think.

Recycled corrugated is also weaker than virgin containers because of the fiber structure, so it can become warped faster or crushed easier. The shorter fibers also make recycled corrugated containers more susceptible to damage caused by humidity and moisture. Although, there are a few ways to overcome this problem with special coatings and materials, but this will increase your cost per packaging.  

Recycled Corrugated is More Sustainable

Corrugated is recycled more than any other material in the world, and it can be reused time and time again. Every ton of corrugated material that’s reused can help save up to seventeen trees from being cut down. Imagine the impact that recycling this material can have on deforestation rates. Corrugated boxes are recycled more than other materials because it’s one of the easiest materials for the everyday consumer to recycle. Over 90 percent of the population has the ability to recycle corrugated material in their curbside bins.

Not only does recycled corrugated reduce the amount of new materials needed, but it also helps save on energy and water usage during the manufacturing process of paper. Separating the fiber structure of fresh wood chips and bark requires a lot of water. But when you replace those virgin materials with one ton of recycled corrugated material, it can reduce the amount of water required for the pulping process by up to 7,000 gallons. Recycled corrugated can often increase water savings at pulping factories by over 50 percent.  

Another benefit of recycling corrugated material is stopping landfill space from filling up and preventing the release of methane gas. When corrugated material decomposes, the molecules separate and produce methane, which is a troublesome greenhouse gas that contributes to dangerous environmental changes.

Recycled Corrugated is Demanded by the Consumer

Today’s consumer is more informed and aware of issues affecting our world. Sustainability is a growing concern among individuals, and the packaging industry has been under attack for many years because of the high amount of waste it produces.

Your average consumers are now demanding that you take responsibility as a business and find ways to decrease the amount of waste that ends up in landfills by your own account. Packaging usually accounts for one third of the materials found in landfills, which is why it’s important for professionals in the industry to take notice. Your consumer will look towards your competitors if sustainability is important to them, so working with recycled corrugated can help you save those valuable relationships.

This is some of the basic information you should know about recycled corrugated. As you can see, working with recycled corrugated has its challenges, but it also provides a lot of benefits for the environment and the perception of your brand. As recycled corrugated continues to grow in popularity, it’ll be harder and harder for businesses to ignore it, so you’d better get on board now if you want to stay ahead of the game.