6 Eco Friendly Ideas for Post-Consumer Corrugated Cardboard

 

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So What Do You Do with Your Custom Corrugated Boxes After They Serve Their Purpose?

 

Recycle them, of course. That’s obvious. We all know that generating post-consumer waste is nearly unavoidable in the retail market, but corrugated cardboard is an eco friendly post-consumer fiber that is easily recycled. And it’s place in retail as light-but-durable packaging is widely celebrated.

 

But how are you going to recycle it? I’m not talking about the route you take to the recycling center. I’m talking about the step in between. You know about that step, right? The part where your post-consumer corrugated cardboard becomes the key to crafting? The doorway to imagination? I mean, you’ve heard about that, right?

 

Custom corrugated boxes are eco friendly. But they’re also kid friendly. You’ve seen it before: some birthday or Christmas where the box gets more mileage than the toy inside. Kids love cardboard. Parents: don’t be discouraged by this–embrace it! Get that kid a box and let them go hog wild!

 

Recently, I wrote about how corrugated cardboard has been vital to prototyping my own board game. Yes, the cardboard box has become coveted in my household. Brown Gold, we call it. But it got me thinking: there’s a lot of awesome ways for kids to use corrugated cardboard boxes that can be quite beneficial to their creativity (and the environment). Here’s a few, just off the top of my head.

 

Make a Puzzlepost-consumer corrugated cardboard for custom board games and puzzles

Puzzles are one of the most timeless toys in history. Going to the store to pick one out is fun…but how about making one? Take a piece of corrugated cardboard and either draw right on it, or glue on a picture. Flip it over and sketch out the pieces. The cutting part might need a little supervision–or maybe an adult with an Exacto knife–but at the end, you’ll have a thick, sturdy puzzle made to your exact specifications. Definitely a good project for a rainy afternoon.
 

Make a “Layer Sculpture”

Keep those scissors handy. Break down some corrugated cardboard boxes and cut out a base for your sculpture. Essentially, you’re going to become a 3-D printer, crafting your little statue layer by layer from the ground up. Stencil out the next piece so that it fits within the confines of the base, and so on and so on. Eventually with a little stacking and glue, you’ll have a layer sculpture. A castle spire, the Statue of Liberty. You can even make yourself that Academy Award you’ve always deserved.

 

Make a Giant Interactive Board Game

Now this use for corrugated cardboard will really get you moving around! Breakdown a repurposed cardboard box or two. Or three, or four, or five. (A good old B-Flute RSC Box would be perfect.) Use the flaps as spaces for a giant board game. Get out the markers and crayons to add rules and regulations to the spaces. Collect 200 Pennies or Win a Candy Bar or whatever! Half the fun of making a board game is making up the rules. And making a giant, fully-interactive board game that can go around the house, through the yard, or all of the above will definitely getting the creative motors running. And don’t forget the giant cardboard box dice! 

 

Make Room!

Sure this is fun for kids, but it’s also good for parents, right? Use some repurposed cardboard boxes to create a den of storage cubbies. Or turn existing shelving a little more personal and private by creating custom drawers for each member of the family. Everybody needs more space. Stack’em up and see that precious floor space you’ve been missing!

 

Make Stencils

I use this a lot in my board game design when I need to draw a particular shape or symbol over and over again. Take a sturdy piece of corrugated cardboard and cut out a cool shape. Now you have a template for drawing shapes again and again, and the best part is they’ll be personalized to what you like drawing! Maybe you’re a 5-leaf clover fan, or partial to crescent moons! The options are endless!

 

Make a Robot

box bot, eco friendly idea for post-consumer corrugated cardboard

 

 

I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t suggest making a robot to someone. But a custom box made of corrugated cardboard makes the perfect robot parts. 5 or 6 of them stacked together make for all the components of a robot. With very sizes and shapes of boxes, you can make a pretty unique bot. Make it a mini, or life-sized. Just try not to give it artificial intelligence–I’ve heard that ends poorly.

 

 

 

 

Whew! That should hold you for awhile, right? Two rainy saturdays, at the very least. These ideas are all fine and well, but it’s important to remember what it means for the environment. Every time you get a little more use out that custom packaging or corrugated box before the recycling bin, you’re contributing to the fight against post-consumer waste. Granted the eco friendly nature of corrugated cardboard plays its part in that battle, but why not get something creative out of the deal while you’re at it? After all, it’s a lot easier to utilize something than figure out how to properly dispose of it.

 


 

New Holiday Packaging for the Elf on the Shelf

Summer is over and it’s time to start discussing Christmas! Okay, maybe not yet. But some holiday packaging markets are already preparing for the snowy season ahead.

One yuletide tradition you can expect to see a little early is the Elf on the Shelf thanks to a little help from Sunrise Packaging.

An Old Tradition Gets a New Look with Corrugated Holiday Packaging

If you’re not familiar with Elf on the Shelf–well, where have you been? Apparently not on Facebook. According to just about any family’s photo uploads, the seemingly timeless tradition of a rambunctious Elf (hailing from the Shelf) carries on year after year. This mischievous little critter appears to be the scapegoat for a wide variety of good-hearted, Toy Story-esque pranks around the house. But how exactly does the Elf get on one’s shelf? That’s where holiday packaging comes in.

Elf on the Shelf custom boxes, corrugated cardboard, b-flute

The (in)famous history of the Elf on the Shelf can be traced back to 2004. Over a cup of tea, an erstwhile mother-daughter duo decided to make a time-honored family tradition into a global phenomenon. Legend has it that Santa dispatches helper Elves around the world come December to keep an eye on families and make sure that the holiday magic is running high. This is the reason the Elf is often caught off the Shelf in a covert location. What results is a month-long game of hide and seek and, more importantly, a tradition the whole family can take part in.

 

But the Elf has to get delivered somehow and apparently Santa thinks holiday packaging is the best vehicle (other than the sleigh, of course). This beautiful custom box crafted by Sunrise Packaging. A 4-color printing finished with Custom Holiday Packaging from Sunrise Packaging, MNan eco-friendly aqueous print coating displays the warm colors of the season. These custom RSC boxes are made of B-Flute corrugated cardboard for a combination of durability and cushion, holding up in transit as well as storage between holiday seasons.

 

Sunrise was able to deliver on this holiday packaging just a week after art approvals. At that rate, Christmas could almost come twice a year! In any case, the Elf on the Shelf custom box was a pleasure to work on. A truly lovely piece of holiday packaging that will hopefully be a part of your family’s traditions this Christmas season. You can almost taste the eggnog, can’t you?

The Most Famous Piece of Corrugated Cardboard Ever

A portion of the star wars early bird certificate, maybe the most famous piece of corrugated cardboard in the history of retail


The year is 1977. Fleetwood Mac is blasting through the speakers of Trans Ams everywhere, Star Wars takes the box office by storm, and the Kenner toy company is sitting on the golden egg of a lifetime–and they almost crushed it. Here’s the true story of how a piece of corrugated cardboard changed the face of marketing history.


 

May the Corrugated Cardboard Be With You

 

Months earlier in 1976, The Kenner toy company caught a seemingly lucky break. A small subsidiary of General Mills, Kenner’s usual fare was squirt guns and bubbles. But a major toy company, Mego, had passed on the Star Wars license to produce toys. Kenner, the Little Toy Company That Could, managed to acquire it.

 

Huge mistake for Mego. Potential mistake for Kenner.

 

Why? Just because Kenner picked up the license didn’t mean they believed in Star Wars. It seems impossible now, but the original Star Wars movie could barely get off the runway back in the day.

 

But once it did, it exploded.

 

The late May blockbuster left Kenner scrambling to produce Star Wars toys in time for the holiday season. Even by today’s standards, that’s a tough deadline. At some point, the small company realized they couldn’t meet the demand by Christmas. But did they give up? Not a chance. Instead they turned to a piece of customized corrugated cardboard into a legend.

 

The Star Wars Early Bird Certificate Was Born.

custom corrugated cardboard packaging used in the marketing of popular star wars toys

A member of the Kenner team had an idea. Instead of letting the ball drop, they created a corrugated cardboard box. Most likely an E-Flute wall structure–the standard in luxury display packaging–Kenner’s Early Bird Certificate doubled as a display stand. The idea was that kids could mail in the certificate and, when the toys were ready, Kenner would send out the first wave of toys, packaged in a thermoformed plastic tray. Then, when the package came, kids would have a spot ready to display them.

 

And they sold it.

 

Hero Complex’s Jay West calls it the “the most coveted empty box in the history of retail.” To think that anything could replace an action figure under the tree in a child’s eyes seems unlikely, let alone a hunk of corrugated cardboard. But it did. In fact, the anticipation of staring at the placeholder while waiting for the figurines to arrive made the prize even sweeter. Exclusive mail-away action figures would be the cornerstone of the Star Wars toys for the next 30 years.

 

Maybe Kenner’s whole plan wouldn’t fly today. But there’s a lot of takeaways from this story. Not giving up? Of course. Taking chances? Sure. But, above all, it shows the creativity stored in that “coveted empty box.” That’s the power of corrugated cardboard. It’s durable, environmental, economical, and endlessly engineerable. Just a simple piece of cardboard changed the face of product licensing forever. Think what it could change next.

 

You might be wondering what parents paid for that precious corrugated cardboard back in the day. $7.99. But what are folks willing to spend on it today?

the infamous customized corrugated cardboard on ebay, glossy laminate

 


 

Retail Ready Packaging (RRP) and the Five Easies

plastic retail packaging, retail ready packaging, shelf ready packaging, customized thermoformed product packaging

 

It almost sounds like a rock band, doesn’t it? “RRP and the Five Easies.” In actuality, RRP stands for Retail Ready Packaging and it’s only about the biggest growing development in custom packaging marketing–and it’s still growing. Projections put RRP demand to increase by 70% in 2016. But RRP isn’t the new kid on the block: Smithers Pira Research reported a total market volume of 27 million tons–$54 billion worth–back in 2011 alone.

 

So what is Retail Ready Packaging?

 

Retail Ready Packaging (or Shelf Ready Packaging, SRP) is difficult to define. The ECR generalizes it as a “term used for mechanisms to merchandise product on shelf, on display, on retail store floor on its own base, or at aisle end.”

 

RRP and SRP might be more clearly defined by their guidelines, their motivating factors. Which is where the 5 Easies come in.

 

retail ready packaging, five easies, rrp guidelines

Image: Retail Ready Packaging Toolkit

 

Easy to Identify

 

Clear-cut, straightforward packaging is good for both consumer and staff alike. If your staff can tell what it is right from the box, they’ll be able to get it on the shelf faster while stocking. On the flip side, your customer will be able to get it off the shelf that much faster too.

 

Easy to Open

 

Ever struggle with a package or envelope? Seems like the more you want it, the harder it is to open. A corrugated box with perforations is one of the simplest solutions, able to tear open with ease. Even better if the overall packaging for the product can tear open into the display itself. Again, easy for the stocker as well as the consumer.

 

Easy to Shelf

 

Shelf Ready Packaging means the product is ready to be put on the shelf. Thus, your package design needs to ride the line between marketable and eye-catching, but also sturdy and secure. The right custom packaging can solve both of those issues and get your product to your buyer much quicker.

 

Easy to Shop

 

This relates back to “Easy to Identify”–the easier it is for a customer to know what they’re getting, the more likely they are to choose your product. Transparency in product via the packaging print. Making sure there are no roadblocks between the product and the hands of you potential customer.

 

Easy to Dispose

 

It’s the cold hard facts–eventually your Retail Ready Packaging will have served its purpose. At which point, it needs to “go on to a better place.” This plays a factor in deciding what material to use. Something easily recyclable is the best case scenario. However, this guideline isn’t just preaching an eco-friendly song, it also relates to easily identifying the recycling information. Is it recyclable? Is it made from recycled paper? What type of plastic is it? All of this should be taken into consideration in today’s market.

 

Bottom Line

 

When choosing your custom packaging, RRP needs to be at the forefront. There are a lot of hands on your product between you and your customers. The more confusing–or crushable–your Retail Ready Packaging, the longer the time is before they actually purchase it. And that lost time can mean lost dollars.
So remember: Easier for your stockers. Easier for your buyers. Easier for your wallet.

What’s Trending in High-End Custom Packaging

Custom mag box with softtouch lamination for presentation packaging and sales kits

We’re reaching the back nine of 2015. It’s time to paint the shed, so to speak. If you haven’t had your finger on the pulse of custom packaging, now’s the time to catch up.

Earlier this year, Andrew Gibbs, well-known CEO of The Dieline, highlighted some of the trends in custom packaging. In an article written for the Creative Bloq, Gibbs points to 4 emerging hot spots in the world of package design:

 

  • Visual authenticity a revival of raw, freeform, or handdrawn graphics
  • Luxury of lesssubtle, texture-based iconography and design
  • Ultra-purea simple, clean look, perhaps most notably used by Apple
  • Bio-basedpackaging that’s sustainable, or “environmentally responsible”

 

 

Rigid-set-up-box-11.02.14

Are these trends mutually exclusive though? While Gibbs tends to point to these as separate entities, perhaps business owners can glean a singular lesson from this list. It would appear that clients and consumers alike are looking towards a clean and simple look. They are looking for transparency, integrity, and a product they can feel good about dispersing. Luckily these elements go hand in hand.

But make no mistake: these elements, though subtle and simple and interconnected, are still design choices. Turned-edge packaging, soft touch laminated surfaces, foil stamping and embossing are more important now than ever in establishing that clean, clinical look. And, more importantly, the quality in which these processes are completed needs to be sharper than ever. Making something look handmade is an overlooked artform. Looking sloppy and being sloppy are two different things–and yet immediately recognized by today’s consumer.

 

Easy-to-Use Packaging for Multi-Tasking Consumers

retail packaging The average consumer leads an incredibly busy life that revolves around the ability to multitask, not only that but to do this in a mobile setting. Shoppers look for convenience and security in their products and the package they come in. While they multitask on a daily basis, they expect their purchased goods to do the same neigh, demand it. Convenience being the biggest consumer trend today, it is imperative that retailers and suppliers alike focus on packaging that appeals to the needs of the busy-bee consumers. There are two features of packaging that can greatly improve your product’s chances of being “the chosen one” on the shelf- if they are executed correctly. First is the no brainer: Easy-to-use. Did you see our blog about frustration-free packaging? Well, there is a video of writer Larry David showing a prime example of how many of us feel when we get home from the store and can’t get to the goods. Honestly, who is going to buy something that takes an arm and a leg to open? Focus your packaging solution on easy-to-open, easy-to-use, easy-to-discard. That brings us to the second feature that is desired in product packaging. That big ol’ buzz word we here everywhere: Sustainability. Not only do you have to make sure the packaging is easy to throw away, but have a sustainable solution that people can feel good about themselves for contributing to the wellness of mother earth. In the end, it is up to the packaging and product manufacturers to provide their consumers with a simple package that lives up to the hectic lifestyle so many of us strive to maintain.

Sunstainable Packaging is the Focus in Rwanda

Kigali, Rwanda hosted an international conference called “Sustainable Packaging for Competitiveness and Development on SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) in EAC (East African Community) Region”. Located in Central-East Africa, Rwanda has a population of about 9 million people and has one of the highest economic growth rates in the Sub-Saharan region (7-8% yearly). sustainable packaging The event had a B2B focus on processing, packaging, material handling and converting, and took place June 3-4. The organizers and partners had two main objectives for the show that raised the interest of a large and attentive public. First, to emphasize the importance of packaging as a strategic leverage for technological upgrade and increased competitiveness of local SMEs. The second objective was to promote East Afripack 2014, which will be the first exhibition showcasing the global state of the art of processing, packaging, and converting technology- the event is set to take place in Nairobi September 9-12 of 2014. In order to better understand that decision makers of the local industry, the conference included a bit of market research. The study showed that 63% of interviewees intend to plan on technology investment to expand their manufacturing capabilities. Also, 70% believe that improved technology in packaging will improve their products’ image and branding.

Blog source: PackWorld

International Coastal Cleanup- Plastics

litterPlastics products are often thought of as a huge contributor to litter. The Ocean Conservancy keeps track of International Coastal Cleanup. More than 500,000 volunteers picked up picked up 10.1 million pounds of trash along 17,719 miles of coastline last year alone. This amount is the third highest in the 27-year history of the Coastal Cleanup. While many would assume that plastic products take the cake for the types of trash that are found, in reality cigarette butts and filters are No. 1 of the top 10 items found. Second are food wrappers/containers, then plastic beverage bottles and plastic bags.

Subway Uses Recycled PET Trays for Catering

Thermoformed traysIn an effort to make their restaurants more environmentally responsible, the Subway sandwich chain is now using thermoformed catering PET trays. The trays are made from 95% post-consumer recycled PET and are used in 29,000 Subway locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. As a result of using these trays, the company estimates that it will keep 1.8 million pounds of plastic materials from going directly into the waste stream every year. The switch is part of Subway’s commitment to changing their day-to-day operations in order to uphold environmental responsibility. The improvements will not end with this- while the company is proud of the various sustainable solutions they have implemented into their business, they recognize that there is more to be done and they are committed to it!

Recyclers asked to stand up for plastics industry

plastics industry leadersIn major meeting of plastics recyclers in New Orleans, the message was delivered that recyclers can be playing a bigger role in letting the skeptical public know about the many advantages of plastics for the environment. Speakers at the meeting included Bill Carteaux, president and CEO of the Society of the Plastics Industry, Inc. and Steve Russell, head of the American Chemistry Council’s plastics division. Some major key points of the meeting were:

-Carteaux urged recyclers to join SPI’s Operation Clean Sweep

– Russell mentioned efforts of the ACC supporting New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to ban polystyrene food-service packaging.

– The positive impact that shale gas is having on the U.S. economy, specifically the plastics industry

Both of these industry leaders spoke about the critical role that plastics recyclers can play to help set the record straight about the benefits of plastics, and the advantages they bring for eco-friendly products supporters. Recyclers have a lot of credibility and their voice of support can improve the status of the plastics industry and production.