There is much more to a cardboard box than one might realize. These prefabricated boxes come in many types and within industry, they are not referred to using the term “cardboard” because that does not denote their material composition. Cardboard is used to refer to different paper-type materials like corrugated fiberboard, paperboard, recycled, and card stock. Getting a brief education on box materials allows consumers to know exactly what they are using.
Corrugated fiberboard consists of one or two flat linerboards encasing a fluted corrugated sheet. This paper-based material is used to manufacture shipping containers and corrugated boxes. The linerboard and corrugated sheet are made from containerboard, which is a paper-like material measuring more than 0.01 inches thick. Corrugated boxes originated in the mid-19th century and were initially used to package pottery and glass containers.
Paperboard is usually 0.01 inch thicker than paper. ISO standards designate paperboard as paper with more than a 224 g/m basis weight, with exceptions. Paperboard can be single ply or multi-ply and is lightweight and easy to form and cut. Since it is strong, it is useful as packaging material. The first carton made from paperboard was produced in England in 1817. By the 1860s, folding cartons were available and by 1974, ovenable paperboard had been discovered.
Recycled cardboard boxes are created from cardboard packaging waste from residential households and companies dealing in packaged goods. Wood pulp manufacturers often deal directly in recycled cardboard materials, repurposing them into new cardboard boxes. The energy savings provided by recycling cardboard is estimated to be 24 percent. Prices of recyclable cardboard fell in 2008 and then increased in 2009. It is easier to recycle cardboard packaging from food products than plastic but shipping costs are higher and more waste may be created from spoilage.
Shipping boxes are usually made from either corrugated cardboard or paperboard. A set-up box is made from non-bending paperboard. Folding cartons are transported and stored flat, then put together when filled. Set-up boxes are assembled during manufacture and transported in their set-up state. These are more expensive than folding cartons and are often used as gift boxes or for high-ticket items.
The rectangle is the most common box shape and sizes vary from tiny to those that fit a large appliance. Durability depends on the type of material used to make the box, with some materials more suitable for packaging certain items. Before they purchasing cardboard shipping or storage boxes, consumers should research the actual material used to make the box.