Tag Archives: recycle

Corrugated cardboard boxes 101: What you need to know

Cardboard is the one of the most popular packaging materials in use today, and the most well known is corrugated cardboard boxes, and we don’t expect that to change anytime soon.  It’s lightweight, strong and resilient, offering excellent protection for almost any item.  But did you know that it’s corrugated cardboard that gives boxes their strength?

Today we’re focusing on precisely that – the material that gives corrugated cardboard boxes their superior strength and resilience.  In this post we’ll be covering everything corrugate related, including how cardboard boxes are made, when corrugated cardboard was invented and how it works, as well as tips on recycling; how to shred, cut and dispose of corrugate.

Corrugated cardboard boxes - What you need to knowImage source: https://pixabay.com/en/cardboard-perspective-texture-467819

How is corrugated cardboard made?

First we’ll start with the basics – just what is corrugated cardboard?  Put simply, it’s the thick, strong arrangement of card that makes up the walls of a cardboard box.  It’s this combination of materials that gives cardboard their high strength and resistance to bumps, knocks and crushing.

The cardboard that makes it up is arranged in a concertina, zig-zag like like pattern which gives strength to both sides of the box. This is held in place and secured with a layer of paper on either side which is called the fluting.  Fixed in place firmly with strong adhesive, it can be made of different types of paper such as Kraft or Test, and it’s these outer layers that keeps the corrugate securely contained inside.  For more information about the inner liners and fluting, take a look at our beginner’s lesson in corrugate cardboard and cardboard in a recent post about cardboard box disposal.

How is corrugated cardboard madeImage source: https://pixabay.com/en/corrugated-cardboard-boxes-flutes-2225141/

So, exactly when was corrugated cardboard invented?  Its history goes back a long way – the earliest reports of it being patented were in England in 1856. Although it was not thought of as a packaging material at the time and was mainly used for other things such as hat lining!

The first recorded packaging and shipping patent for corrugate was in the United States and issued on December the 19th, 1871, where it was used for wrapping bottles and glass lantern chimneys.   In the years that followed it became a popular packaging material, with wooden crates and boxes replaced by corrugated paper shipping cartons from the early 1900s.

With the development of this resourceful material, cardboard boxes could be readily made for reliable shipping and storage, but how are cardboard boxes made?  The process begins by making the inner corrugated board – this is done by a large machine called a corrugator.  Board is fed into the corrugator, heated and pressed into the concertina form that we see above – this forms the central filling of the cardboard box wall.  Two outer liners, the fluting, are then fed through and securely glued to the corrugate using very strong adhesive.  Once the glue is set using steam, the flat complete board can be cut into large sheets of various sizes which are used to form the flat packed cardboard boxes that you receive from your packaging supplier. At Rajapack we stock over 600 different sizes and types of cardboard boxes , so you can imagine the cutting and loading process can become quite complicated!

What is corrugated cardboard used for?

Corrugated cardboard can be used for various applications, the most common is to house items with the use of a corrugated cardboard box. But first, let’s understand just how does corrugated cardboard work?  This innovative construction features three separate materials and gets its super strength from the combination of all 3 working together.  In the centre, the concertina card is tightly but firmly packed within two layers of fluting and this gives strength across the width of the card to both sides of the material. It’s this concertina structure that makes the card super strong.

With many different types of cardboard box available, we often get asked which is the right one to use, and how thick is corrugated cardboard?  The great thing about how it’s made means that many different types and strengths can be produced.

Some use thinner, more lightweight materials with a single layer of corrugate for a light and strong box – these are called single wall boxes.  Others can use several layers of corrugate made from much thicker card.  For these boxes, the material can feel as strong as steel! Our ultimate strength triple wall boxes can support up to an impressive 500Kg in weight, all from a few layers of cardboard!

Corrugated cardboard 101 - Single double and triple wall boxes

We already know that corrugated board was patented for use as a shipping material in 1871, and this was for single side, single face corrugated board with one layer of paper on one layer of corrugate.  But who invented corrugated cardboard? The patent was registered in New York City by Albert Jones – you can actually see the first patent for corrugate as this is hosted online, along with the description and technical information registered – a fascinating piece of packaging history!

Why is corrugated cardboard so strong?

Corrugate cardboard is so strong because of it’s internal structure, and this contributes to the same reason why corrugated cardboard is a good insulator. The main strength of corrugate comes from it’s concertina like zig zag shape.  Being contained within fluting by strong adhesive, cardboard is strongest along the length of the material and it’s this structure that gives it strength to support both sides. And all between the fluting air is trapped and cannot move around, the layers prevent the air from escaping making it a poor head conductor.

Is corrugated cardboard recyclable?

Corrugated cardboard is recyclable, for additional information on Rajapack and the environment why not take a look at our environmental FAQs and read on.

As a packaging provider we must be mindful of how our packaging materials can be recycled  and in an environmentally responsible way. So, is corrugated cardboard biodegradable?

The good news is that yes, it is biodegradable. It will break down in the environment over time, though it can take a long time depending on the environment that it’s in.  If it’s wet and broken up into small pieces then it will degrade much faster, so if you have a compost bin at your home or business then cardboard can be a great addition to your compost.

Boxes can be quite large once broken down particularly if they’re pallet or export boxes.  If you don’t have a great deal of space to store them on site in between recycling collections, then you may wish to shred your cardboard.

If you want to know how to shred corrugated cardboard, it’s simple and straightforward.  You could use an automatic cardboard shredder which perforates and converts corrugated cardboard into a strong, shock absorbent netting material which can be used as packaging.  Alternatively, you can shred it manually by soaking it in water which makes it very easy to tear and cut through with normal scissors if it’s single or double wall.  For triple wall, you might need something a little stronger like a box cutter detailed below, or some industrial scissors that offer more strength.

Even though it does break down, it’s always our preference to recycle cardboard when you can – all our boxes are made from 75% recycled fibres on average.  Local recycling collections for paper and card are usually frequent and the recycling loop for corrugate is so efficient that used boxes can be recycled, remade and reused in just two weeks!  Cardboard recycles very well, without loss of strength or rigidity so it’s an excellent material to recycle.

Crushed corrugated cardboard boxes ready to be recycledImage source: https://unsplash.com/photos/1PxGp8kkQyk

Corrugated cardboard is also great to use for packing – placing in boxes to separate items to hold them securely in place.  The fact that it’s lightweight, easy to handle and cut means it’s perfect for many different uses.  If you’re wondering how to cut corrugated cardboard then don’t worry, it’s easy.  A small cutting knife, called a box cutter will do the job with ease and glide through corrugate easily.

Open a corrugated cardboard box with box cutters

What is non-corrugated cardboard?

Finally we’re looking at non-corrugated cardboard as an alternative.  Non-corrugated cardboard is exactly the opposite of corrugate as you would expect! In this material, cardboard is simply layered on top of each other, in the similar way to how puff pastry is made.  This can make the cardboard material smoother, so it’s good for printing striking visuals or designs onto.

It’s mainly used for lightweight products, presentation boxes and you may have encountered it in things like iPhone boxes or for other gadgets.  Generally, it’s not recommended to be used as a serious packaging material, though can be cheaper than corrugate due to its simpler and more lightweight construction.

If you’d like more information about corrugated cardboard, our range of cardboard boxes and packaging supplies, or help on selecting the right cardboard packaging for your business, get in touch with our team of packaging experts who will be happy to help. Simply visit www.rajapack.co.uk or contact our team on 0800 542 44 28, or sales@rajapack.co.uk.

How to Recycle Packaging Materials

Protective packaging is usually made from strong and resilient materials, so it can absorb knocks and bumps, but this can make it more difficult to dispose of and recycle packaging materials correctly.  In this post we’re focusing on how you can recycle and dispose of protective packaging correctly in a safe and eco-friendly way.  We’ll be focusing on bubble wrap, foam and paper packaging.

Protecting your products is at the heart of everything we do here at Rajapack, it’s what makes protective packaging one of our most important and popular ranges.  These items have been designed and constructed to offer ultimate protection during shipping and transport whether it’s in the form of rigid blocks, soft cushioning, water resistance or protection from electricity.

How to recycle packaging materials

Image source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-pile-of-ripped-carton-1055712/

Is bubble wrap recyclable?

As one of the most widely used packaging materials available, a common question we get asked from our customers is “can bubble wrap be recycled?” The good news is that yes, bubble wrap can be recycled.  Some local councils can collect it in along with other plastics in their normal recycling collection, including items such as milk cartons, drinks bottles and carrier bags.

Is bubble wrap recycable

Do check with your local council though to see if they accept bubble wrap, as not all are able to.  If they don’t then there’s sure to be a recycling site local to you which does accept bubble wrap.  Simply store it and you can take it along to your local recycling site for proper disposal.  It’s easy to find out about local recycling collections through the ‘Recycling Collections’ section of the government website, simply enter your postcode.

Can Bubble Wrap Envelopes be recycled?

Bubble wrap envelopes cannot be recycled. Bubble envelopes are made from a combination of polythene and paper, with cushioning air bubbles inside and a paper outer with soft surface that can easily be written on.  Because of the two different materials that they’re made from , bubble envelopes can’t be recycled whole and will have to be separated.

Can bubble envelopes be recycled

The paper outer and plastic inner are usually bonded together and can’t be processed together for recycling.  If you can separate the paper outer from the polythene inner, then the paper can be recycled along with standard paper and card, while the bubble wrap inner can be recycled with standard bubble wrap at a recycling site.  These are offered by local councils and you can find your closest by visiting the ‘Recycling Collections’ link above.

Is packaging foam recyclable?

Foam packaging is a protective product which offers great stability and cushioning, while being lightweight, easy to handle, cut and use.  It excels at protecting a wide range of products and parcels whether wrapping, blocking, bracing or cushioning.

Is packaging foam recyclable

Unfortunately, it’s not simple nor straightforward to recycle foam packaging.  The lightweight, low density properties which make it so good to use do however make it difficult to recycle easily.  In some areas options can be very limited, as not all recycling centres can handle or process this material – but there are some centres that do, so check in your local area to find out what options are available to you.

Our Packaging Specialists always get asked, how to dispose of foam packaging? Find out where your closet recycling site is that will accept polystyrene and foam packaging.  You can easily do this through the Recycling Locator on the Recycle now website. Select ‘Recycle a specific item’ then select Plastic packaging and Polystyrene in the ‘Which type of material’ menu.  If there isn’t a centre close to you, then consider re-use of foam packaging instead of disposing.  Because of the strength and reliance of foam it can be used time and time again to securely pack items so doesn’t need to be disposed of after just one use. 

Are foam packing peanuts recyclable?

One of the most popular loose fill packaging solutions and one you’ve no doubt encountered before, are packing peanuts.  These small but strong chips provide great protection while being incredibly lightweight.  But can foam packaging peanuts be recycled? Historically, they have been made from similar materials to standard foam packaging (polystyrene) making them difficult to recycle and dispose of in an eco-friendly way.

Are foam packing peanuts recyclable

Recently manufacturers of packing peanuts have developed more eco-friendly alternatives with the creation of biodegradable packing peanuts.  These break down naturally in the environment over time and can be made from renewable resources, lessening their impact on the environment and making them simple and straightforward to dispose of.

Can you recycle packing paper?

You can recycle paper packaging, it is one of our favourite protective materials.  It’s lightweight, easy to store and can be used for all manner of packaging applications, for packing, wrapping, protecting or presenting. It’s great for the environment too, with all paper packaging being fully recyclable.  From strong and resilient Kraft paper for packing and protecting items, crinkle cut shredded paper for soft cushioning and presentation, through to soft tissue paper for wrapping delicate and fragile items, there’s a suitable type of paper for almost any packaging need.

Can you recycle packing paper

Disposal of paper packing is simple and straightforward too. Many of the paper packaging that we sell is made from 100% recycled paper (the entire product is made from old paper products) and is fully recyclable, so it can be used time and time again and easily recycled along with your standard paper and cardboard collections.

If you’d like more information about the range of environmental protective packaging that we offer, any help or advice on recycling packaging materials or the best way to dispose of it, then simply get in touch with our team of packaging experts who are on hand to help.

Simply visit www.rajapack.co.uk or contact our team on 0800 542 44 28, or sales@rajapack.co.uk.

Earth Over Shoot Day, the Day Humanity Needs to Change

Earth Over Shoot Day and Rajapack

In 2017 the UK’s Earth Over Shoot Day fell on August 2nd, this year it will be 1st August. Our Ecological Footprint has moved forward by one day as we consume more of the Earth’s resources and services faster than it can be generated, the day that marks the over consumption is called Earth Over Shoot Day.

To help put the rate of consumption into a tangible perspective, last year we commissioned James Lake, a sculptor who works with the medium of cardboard, to depict humanity’s depletion of the Earth’s natural resources highlighting the seriousness of this environmental concern.

The Art of Recycling with Rajapack

Pictured: James Lake for The Art of Recycling

The Art of Recycling campaign highlights the change needed, the rate of consumption and the necessity to recycle and find more sustainable solutions to waste management. With James’ creativity and skill he is able to craft sculptures into something with a much greater value, all from a simple and unassuming item such as a low cost cardboard box and most importantly, from recyclable material.

In today’s society consumption and waste is higher than ever before. A perfect example is the growth of ecommerce and online shopping which has led to an increase of packaging used for parcels and the resulting waste created, and also the increase in petrol and diesel usage.  However, some changes can be made to help offset the damaging effects, such as electric or hybrid eco-friendly delivery vans or even cycle couriers, and online retailers choosing environmentally friendly packaging alternatives made from recycled materials.

Steps can be taken to #MoveTheDate, what will you do?

The Art of Recycling: Does the UK care as much about the environment as we think we do?

As individuals, could we be doing more to help the environment? We looked a little closer at some of the UK’s recycling habits and learnt that on average, every seven weeks people in the UK throw away their own body weight in rubbish.[i]

The benefits of recycling are clear. Manufacturing one aluminium drinks can uses the same amount of energy as recycling twenty.[ii] What’s more, there would be 14 million fewer full dustbins every year if we recycled all the aluminium drinks cans sold in the UK.[iii] All our Rajapack cardboard boxes are 100% recyclable and we’re always working towards growing our range of environmentally-friendly packaging solutions.

94% of British adults say they care about the environment

What are the effects of not recycling as much as we could? Earth Overshoot Day gives us an idea of how much we are harming the environment.

Earth Overshoot Day

We use more from nature than the planet can renew. Earth Overshoot Day marks the date each year when we have consumed more than can be regenerated.  Thirty years ago, in 1987, this day fell on the 19th December. Ten years ago, 2007, it was 26th October.[iv] In 2017 Earth Overshoot Day falls on the 2nd August.

This is a clear indication we need to start doing more to help the environment. So, we decided to find out a bit more about the public’s attitudes to recycling. Local councils provide plastic crates, bins and bags – usually free of charge – specifically to make recycling easier for us. But is it working?

Are we a throwaway society?

In the country, 96% know aluminium cans are recyclable, only 76% that use them recycle them

Since 2010, the amount the UK recycles has been increasing. However, in 2015 this rate dropped.[v] To find out a little more about this decline, we commissioned a YouGov survey to find out how the British public really feels about recycling.

Our results show that almost everyone in Great Britain says they care about the environment (94%), but almost half of them (47%) feel they could recycle more than they currently do. This is despite almost three-quarters of the British public (74%) thinking their local council makes it easy for them to recycle. Do people simply not have the time to sort out their recycling?

We found out that although almost everyone in the country knows that aluminium cans can be recycled (96%), only 76% of those who use them say they recycle them every time. In Wales, 100% of people who responded to our survey knew that aluminium can be recycled, but only 80% said they recycle their empty cans every time.

100% of the Welsh know aluminium cans are recyclable, only 80% recycle them

Does a lack of knowledge around what can be recycled contribute to people not recycling more? Polystyrene isn’t a commonly recycled material, but some councils do accept it at household recycling centres.[vi] Yet over a third of Brits (37%) think polystyrene can be recycled, while nearly half of them believe it can never be recycled. Only 13% of those in Britain admitted they didn’t know.

Recycling cardboard

One of the most common packaging materials in the UK is corrugated cardboard[vii], which means most of us will probably have it in our homes in some form. The good news from our survey is Brits are more likely to recycle cardboard than any other material we asked about, with 79% of people who use it saying they always recycle it.

Our findings back up the statement that cardboard has the best recycling rate of any packaging material in the UK. This high rate of recycling means that cardboard boxes made in the UK contain up to 76% recycled material, on average. Some boxes are constructed from 100% recycled material. [viii]

The most recycled materials is cardboard, 79% say they always recycle it

How can we improve?

Although it’s worrying that recycling rates in the UK have dropped from previous years, it isn’t too late to do something about it. With people in the UK willing to admit they aren’t always sure what can be recycled, there is scope to educate people about what can and can’t be put into their recycling bins.

Many businesses are beginning use more eco-friendly packaging solutions. At Rajapack, we offer eco-friendly and recycled packaging across our range and our Packaging Specialists are always on hand to provide information on how to make more environmentally-responsible packaging choices.

If you want to find out more about what you can recycle in your local area, this tool from Recycle Now will tell you everything you need to know.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2026 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 17th-18th July 2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

 [i]http://www.amgen-cymru.com/recycling_facts.php

[ii]http://www.amgen-cymru.com/recycling_facts.php

[iii]http://www.amgen-cymru.com/recycling_facts.php

[iv] http://www.overshootday.org/newsroom/past-earth-overshoot-days/

[v]https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/593040/UK_statsonwaste_statsnotice_Dec2016_FINALv2_2.pdf

[vi] https://www.recyclenow.com/what-to-do-with/polystyrene-1

[vii] https://cardboard.org.uk/what-is-corrugated-cardboard/

[viii] https://cardboard.org.uk/what-is-corrugated-cardboard/