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.

 


 

Luxury Packaging Afterlife: The Post-Consumer Purpose

Post-Consumer Waste. What does it mean?

 

Simplified, it means what you do with the box after you’ve opened your purchase. Do you toss it in the trash? Or do you find a way to utilize it, repurpose it.

 

At Sunrise Packaging, we try to use recyclable materials whenever possible. Eco-binders made from recyclable material and utilizing eco friendly, vegetable-based ink. Aqueous print coatings preserve paper from yellowing, making products more reusable, and they’re water-based. Using grades of plastic for thermoforming that can be recycled. In fact, RPET (Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate) is a polymer made using reclaimed post-consumer material.

recyclable corrugated cardboard cuts back on post-consumer waste

When you think about it, our packaging lends itself quite well to the fight against post-consumer waste. Even though they are on opposite ends of the spectrum, luxury packaging and corrugated cardboard boxes can both cut back on post-consumer waste. How? Well, with a little imagination for starters.

 

Let’s start with luxury packaging. The brilliance of luxury packaging is that it’s not only eye-catching, it adds value to the product itself. The same upscale element that makes it attractive in stores, makes it somewhat of a keepsake in the post-consumer market. Fine packaging can be used and reused as gift boxes and storage long after they’ve served their purpose. I use a magnetic cigar-style box to hold the components of a board game I’m designing. It feels like an heirloom. That magnetic strip, the soft–touch lamination–that’s something I can proudly display on my bookshelf. Not meant for refuse.

repurposed magnetic cigar style box for board game design, turned edges, upscale, post-consumer

On the other side of the coin, rugged, durable corrugated cardboard–still a staple of modern packaging–is designed to be used again and again, and yet is recycled and recyclable. Now that’s eco friendly! Think of the last time you reused a corrugated cardboard box. I bet it wasn’t that long ago. Something always needs moving, lifting, or transporting. And cardboard, with its varying flutes, was there for you. While custom cardboard boxes don’t always have the flash of, let’s say, a rigid two-piece setup box, or the stiffness of a chipboard, but they are lightweight, disposable, and endlessly reusable.

 

 

Corrugated Cardboard and Rigid Chipboard: The Eco Friendly Odd Couple

 

Two different materials, used in different ways, both contributing to the fight against post-consumer waste. One with staying power, and one that bows out gracefully when the time comes. It might take a little imagination–heck, it might take a lot of imagination–but there’s always an eco friendly (re)purpose for packaging, luxury or rugged. All things to consider for your next custom box or packaging project. Do you want to be the heirloom? Or the bottom of the bin?


 

 

Dell’s Three C’s of Sustainable Packaging

Dell’s focus on sustainability has established the electronics giant as a leader in the green movement. Back in December of 2008, Dell announced a plan to transform computer packaging by adding recycled content (32%). By 2012, Dell hopes to achieve its goal of increasing the recycled content in its packaging by 40%. To do this, the company is implementing a strategy based on three C’s: Cube, Content, and Curbside.

Cube
Reducing the size of product packaging so it is more efficient, from the size of the boxes that hold product components to the number of items that can be moved per shipping pallet. In one example, Dell optimized the packaging for its Inspiron laptop so that the number of computers per pallet increased from 54 to 63.

Content
As previously stated, Dell is ramping up the amount of recycled contents that go into their packaging. For heavier products that require sturdier support, the company has increased the use of recycled foam versus using virgin product. Dell has also increased the use of post-consumer recycled plastics, integrating the equivalent of more than 9.5 million half-gallon milk jugs into its packaging.

Also, Dell has been using bamboo as a strong and compostable alternative to the molded paper pulp, foams, and corrugated cardboard often used in packaging.

Curbside
Ensuring that their packaging is curbside recyclable is that last piece of Dell’s green packaging strategy. Dell increasingly chooses materials that can be tossed in the recycling bin such as post-consumer plastics and molded paper pulp.

Bamboo is still not accepted by many municipal recyclers for curbside pickup however, Dell is working with Georgia Pacific, Unisource Global Services, and Environmental Packaging International in an effort to certify its bamboo packaging for recycling.

Dell outlines the three C’s strategy in their 2010 Corporate Responsibility Summary Report (PDF)