Reusing Those Corrugated Cardboard Boxes? Here's What You'll Need To Know

Business Articles

If you have a business that does its fair share of shipping and receiving product, then you might be tempted to reuse the corrugated cardboard boxes that come your way in order to save on shipping material costs. It's also a great way to do your part when it comes to maintaining a sustainable environment. There are a few things to keep in mind if you're planning to reuse your corrugated boxes.

Use Carton Sealing Tape to Cover Holes

It's not uncommon for a corrugated cardboard box to get a little banged up during shipping, so it's a good idea to check the box for any holes or small tears. If you do happen to see any holes, you should cover these with carton sealing tape.

But what if you don't have any carton sealing tape on hand? Is it okay to just use masking tape, cellophane tape or even duct tape? As it turns out, carton sealing tape is the only kind of tape you'll want for this job. Given that the shipping process can get a little bumpy from time to time, you'll want to take that can stand up to the rigors of shipping without losing its adhesive properties. The last thing you want is for a duct tape or cellophane tape patch to fail at precisely the wrong moment during shipping.

You Can Cover Those Labels, But Don't Peel Them

It's always a good idea to cover up any labels or barcodes you see on any corrugated cardboard box you reuse. Common carriers rely on barcodes for their sorting systems, so you don't want to introduce any mistakes into the shipping process by not covering these unnecessary barcodes over. You can use a marker to black out old barcodes or simply cover them over with a new blank label, provided that said label is opaque enough to completely obscure the old barcode.

However, the last thing you want to do is peel off any of these old labels. In most cases, you'll simply end up tearing the old label to shreds without completely removing it from the box. You could even end up tearing part of the box's exterior, which could end up destroying the integrity of the box's corrugated structure.

Beware of Hazardous Markings

Before you reuse your corrugated cardboard box, you want to make sure that there aren't any hazardous content markings or labels on the box. Most hazardous markings come in the form of diamond-shaped DOT-compliant labels. Only certain common carrier facilities are authorized to handle packages containing hazardous materials. This means that your package could be turned down by a local shipping store if the box is marked as hazardous, even if there are no hazardous materials inside.

Know When to Hold and Know When to Fold

As with anything else in life, there's a limit to how many times a corrugated cardboard box can be safely used. Instead of simply reusing your cardboard box over and over until they fall apart, you may want to toss it in the recycling pile:

  • If the box is severely dented, crushed or otherwise damaged
  • If the box is missing its flaps
  • If the box has numerous holes or has portions of its exterior skin cut out
  • If the box has been exposed to water, moisture or hazardous chemicals

In 2008, over 24.2 million tons of corrugated material was recycled, according to Waste360's Chad Miller. This makes corrugated cardboard one of the most commonly recycled materials in the United States. Given that corrugated cardboard boxes consist of over 43 percent recycled content, there's a good chance that you'll be seeing the boxes you've just recycled in another form sooner or later.


29 July 2015

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