Cardboard boxes remain the most popular way to post anything too big to fit into an envelope. Despite the huge advances made in material sciences, the relatively natural cardboard is yet to be beaten for price, adaptability and strength.
Corrugated cardboard is made by joining two sheets of cardboard with a layer of tightly folded cardboard in between. Manufacturers combine these layers to add extra strength and durability. Single walled corrugated cardboard boxes are generally around 3mm thick. A double walled corrugated cardboard box will have around 7mm of cardboard enclosing it. It is both stronger and lighter than paperboard and cheaper to manufacture.
Single walled corrugated cardboard boxes are durable and often described as suitable for medium duty work. In posting terms that means you should probably only use it when your product doesn’t require much in protection beyond keeping it safely enclosed. Single walled boxes can be stacked when full, but shouldn’t be used for heavy products.
Double walled corrugated cardboard boxes are a heavy duty solution. They are great for storage and stack well as the boxes have greater rigidity. With their extra protective layer, they are suitable for boxing for shipping products which need some measure of protection.
Size is all important when choosing a box supplier. Shipping fresh air can cost as much as shipping your product, so the less space you waste the better. A tighter fit is also safer and more secure and gives a better presentation to the customer.
Look for suppliers who use ‘postal sizes’ which are designed around the size designations, and thus charges, that the Post Office use. Some manufacturers – and buying direct from the maker should be considered as a cost-saving way to cut out the middle man – will allow you to design and size your own boxes.
You can choose how the box is fastened together. Glue or stitching – sometimes heavy duty thread but more often wire or staples – are offered. There isn’t a great deal of difference, but stapled boxes are probably marginally stronger. The design of the box can also be specified, with a choice between a lid that meets in the centre for taping, or two flaps that cross over giving a double layer at the top of the box too. You can also make custom boxes and choose the colour(s) colour of your cardboard too.
Corrugated cardboard remains the most popular form of packaging in the UK. That’s because it’s yet to be improved on. It’s also moved with the time, it’s now much stronger than it was 20 years ago, and many manufacturers are ahead of the environmental game, exceeding government targets for the use of recycled materials.
The UK average for recycled material in corrugated boxes is 76%. Paper and cardboard can be recycled – though not indefinitely – and paper is now usually sourced from sustainable and responsible forest sources. Most timber from fully-grown trees now go to the construction and furniture industries with paper and cardboard makers largely using thinnings and even waste from sawmills to source their fibre.
Corrugated cardboard boxes remain the most practical, cost-effective and environmentally-friendly postage and storage solution available.