What are corrugated boxes? If you’re still not familiar with the world’s best packaging option, then you’re in the right place. Read on to learn more about what corrugated boxes are as well the different uses for and types of corrugated packaging.
Differences Between Corrugated and Cardboard
A cardboard carton is made of thick paper stock or heavy paper-pulp. This material is used to make a variety of products such as small containers, product packaging, and even structural support for less rigid items like notepads, inserts that keep clothing items like button-up shirts from losing shape, and more.
As a retailer, you can ship products in containers made of cardboard, but you’re at risk when doing so because the material provides little protection. It may also require extra packaging materials such as bubble wrap to ensure your product inside will stay safe during the shipping process.
Corrugated cartons are made up of a few layers of material rather than just a single sheet like cardboard. The three layers of corrugated include an inside liner, an outside liner, and a medium that goes between the two, which is fluted. Corrugated is a resilient material that is also lightweight — an important consideration for those shipping a significant number of packages.
These containers remain intact even when exposed to shocks, moisture, and sudden temperature changes. While no container is invincible to excessive force or prolonged and harsh conditions, corrugated provides a higher level of assurance that your products will move from your warehouse to their final destination in great shape.
If you’re interested in learning more about the differences between corrugated and cardboard, read our blog Corrugated vs Cardboard — Understanding the Differences Between These Packaging Materials.
The Process for Making Corrugated
In order to understand what corrugated boxes are, you first have to understand how they’re made. Made predominantly from trees, which are a renewable resource, corrugated packaging is the most recovered packaging material on the planet. It is sustainably manufactured from trees and old recovered corrugated containers with an industry recovery rate hovering around 90% over the last eight years and 96 percent in 2018 per Corrugated.org.
When corrugated is recycled, old corrugated containers (OCC) are dropped off, sorted, compacted, and baled for space-efficient storage. These bales are then transferred to a paper mill where they’re then broken down and the corrugated is inserted into a repulper, which is like a large blender.
In the repulper, they’re agitated to form a slushy pulp of fiber and water. The contaminants are removed and the remaining fiber solution is poured out onto a moving screen that allows the water to drain away, forming a continuous fiber mat. This mat is then pressed between rollers to remove any additional water.
The wet, continuous fiber is wound through a dryer where the top and bottom of it contact heated surfaces of drying cylinders, removing any remaining moisture from the paper. Once this process is finished, the paper is rolled onto a large reel spool where it is then slit and rewound into individual rolls, which is when the recycling process is considered complete. These paper rolls are shipped off to sheet feeders or corrugators where they will be converted into corrugated sheets, and later transformed into sustainable corrugated packaging. If you want to learn more about how corrugated packaging is sustainable, our blog Sustainable Corrugated Packaging: How to Reuse and Recycle Properly is a great resource.
The Basics of Corrugated
Now that you know the differences between corrugated and cardboard, we can take a deeper dive into the basics of corrugated. There are a number of factors that come into play when making a corrugated box. This is also why they’re so customizable.
The most common flutes used today are A, B, C, E, and F, with A being the largest flute size. Flute size determines the thickness of the walls as well as the stacking strength of your corrugated box. An “A” flute is approximately 5 mm thick and is an ideal option for products that require additional cushioning or extra strength for stacking. As you go through B, C, E, and F flutes, the thickness is smaller resulting in a thinner board.
There are four types of boards that can be used for corrugated boxes. The most common of which are single-wall and double-wall boards. There is also single-face board which is made up of one sheet of liner adhered to one sheet of corrugated medium. This style of board is typically sold in rolls and can be used to wrap around products for protection and cushioning. Single-wall board is when one sheet of corrugated medium is glued between two sheets of liner. Single-wall is the most common type of board in the market and can be used for everything from shipping boxes to retail displays.
Double-wall is when two sheets of corrugated medium are glued between three sheets of liner. This board is commonly used for heavier products or products that require a stronger box for shipping.
And lastly, triple-wall is when three sheets of corrugated medium are glued between four sheets of liner. This board is the strongest out of all the board styles and is often used for industrial parts or produce bins.
Corrugated board is categorized as either Mullen or Edge Crush Test (ECT). These two board grades have very different applications. ECT measures how much stacking strength or pressure a box can withstand before being crushed. ECT board is the favorable choice if you’re going to be stacking boxes on top of one another, whether on a pallet or warehouse shelf.
Mullen value is determined by the amount of pressure a box can withstand before bursting or being punctured. If you’re looking for resistance from internal or external factors, this is the board type you’ll want.
If you’re interested in learning about corrugated boxes in more detail, be sure to read our blog A Beginner’s Guide to Corrugated Boxes.
Benefits of Corrugated Packaging
The ability to customize your corrugated packaging is what makes it extremely versatile and valuable for retailers. From designing a custom retail packaging solution for your product to designing a corrugated box that fits your product perfectly for shipment, corrugated allows you to satisfy your packaging needs.
Increased Customer Satisfaction
Want to satisfy your customers? Provide them with a pleasant unboxing experience. Creating a pleasant unboxing experience is particularly important for eCommerce companies because they don’t have the “shelf presence” that retailers do and they have to leave a lasting impression on a customer somehow. Your product packaging can help you do that. Want to learn more about the unboxing experience? Read our blog How Are You Improving the Unboxing Experience?
Sustainable packaging can make an impact on the planet and on your eCommerce business. As an eCommerce business, one of the most important factors in your business’s growth and success is your ability to establish a strong relationship with your customers. And in recent years, customers are beginning to value environmentally-friendly packaging and products. And what better way to satisfy those values than with sustainable packaging like corrugated? May we remind you that the industry recovery rate for corrugated is hovering around 90% over the last eight years and 96 percent in 2018 per Corrugated.org.
Corrugated provides all of these benefits and it’s also a cost-effective packaging option? How is that even possible? Because of the sustainability of corrugated packaging and the rate at which it’s recycled, it’s extremely cost-effective to produce and continue to reuse. Not only is it cost-effective, but it can also help you increase your sales. Learn how by reading our blog Three Strategic Ways that Corrugated Packaging Increases Sales.
Ready to Switch Your Packaging to Corrugated?
Hopefully, you now know the answer to your what are corrugated boxes question. If you’re ready to make the move to corrugated, let us know. For more than 60 years, Jamestown Container has been helping companies use corrugated packaging and other materials to better connect with their customers, and become more sustainable and profitable. Are you ready to do the same? Get in touch with us today to learn how we can help you do the same.