Imagine a world without corrugated cardboard…

Imagine what would happen if corrugated cardboard disappeared tomorrow. Yeah, it makes about as much sense as the premise of NBC’s Revolution (2012), but just play along for the purpose of this post.

How does your daily life change?

Well for one, crackers (and many other foods) would once again be sold in barrels. I bet you didn’t realize that’s where Cracker Barrel’s name came from.

Corrugated cardboard is so ubiquitous for such that it is genuinely hard to imagine life without it. Instead of simply picking up a package of saltines at the local grocery store, you would have to scoop them out of a shared barrel into a bag and the charge would be based on weight.

In what other ways would our world change without corrugated cardboard? I have a few guesses.

  1. Pizza boxes are replaced by pizza bags. Pizza sales plummet.
  2. You know how annoying it is when you get an oversized box in the mail? Now imagine what happens when you get an oversized crate.
  3. Instead of closing boxes with tape, closing them now requires a hammer and nails. Packing shipments is so much more time consuming now.
  4. The crowbar industry takes off when consumers realize they have no way of opening a wooden crate.
  5. Without shoeboxes, children are forced to use fishbowls for school dioramas.
  6. Rather than abandon its future drone delivery fleet, Amazon compensates by upgrading it. We eventually live in a dystopian future where elephant-sized drones fly everywhere delivering crates. It sounds like a constant fleet of helicopters overheard.
  7. Google Cardboard is replaced by Google Glass. Oh wait.
  8. Shipping companies make a killing on weight and dimensional charges, since making custom-sized crates for each order is much more expensive and time consuming.

All of this is to say that despite its mainstream nature, corrugated cardboard is a big deal. It’s become the de-facto packaging material, and for good reason.

It’s easily the most sustainable packaging material. Paperboard naturally breaks down and decomposes, allowing approximately 75 percent to be recycled. Compare this to most other packaging materials, which comprise mostly of plastic. Only 15 percent of plastic is recycled, and not one bit of it naturally breaks down. Corrugated cardboard also offers amazing strength considering its weight, cost, and sustainability.

Corrugated cardboard is indeed a weighty topic. I imagine that anyone who starts working in the industry has a bit of a learning curve when they realize there’s different grades of corrugated, different strength tests, and so many different ways to fold it into boxes.

Fortunately, we’ve put together some guides for those of you who don’t understand what the difference is between 32 ECT C flute and 275# BC flute. For anyone who’s new to the industry, these guides provide excellent crash courses on corrugated.

Read this post to learn about the different grades of corrugated.

Read this post to learn about the difference between ECT and Mullen tests for corrugated.

Once you’ve read those, send us a message to learn more about corrugated cardboard. There are few questions about corrugated that we can’t answer.