How to reuse a box for shipping? (5 steps)

This article will explore if and how you can reuse boxes for shipping. Other related aspects that will be shed light on will include:

  • What materials are mostly used in packaging boxes?
  • Can boxes be reused?
  • For how long can boxes be reused?
  • Can boxes degrade readily?
  • Can you compost and recycle boxes?
  • What is the environmental impact of cardboard boxes?
  • Can boxes be used for different companies?
  • FAQs

How to reuse a box for shipping?

It is possible to reuse a box for shipping. Not only is it possible, but it also is advised as such because most boxes can be used for up to 3 years if taken proper care of. 

Most boxes are made from cardboard which is made from recycled paper. Cardboard boxes can be reused several times and after that, can be recycled and composted. 

Since cardboard boxes are made from natural, plant-based materials, these boxes have very little impact on the environment and are considered an eco-friendly option, much better than plastic packaging. 

Can boxes be used for different companies?

Let us say that you have an Amazon box and want to use it to ship to other couriers such as USPS or FedEx. Can you do that? Yes, you definitely can. 

The only thing you need to ensure is that the labelling is removed so that there are not any unnecessary complications. Other than that, boxes can be used to ship to different couriers. 

Amazon uses the same type of cardboard boxes used by the United States Postal Service (USPS), in fact almost all courier and e-commerce companies prefer cardboard boxes for shipments because they are safe to carry and have enough strength to hold everything in place and can be used for almost every type of good.

What might create a concern for amazon is that the customer may wrongfully attribute another company’s services to amazon due to the presence of labels that may be present but given the fact amazon has not listed specific instructions means that they are not bothered by this.

What precautions do you need to follow to reuse boxes for shipping?

The few precautions that you need to be mindful of while reusing the boxes for shipping include: 

  • Maintaining good quality boxes
  • Complete removal of all tags and barcodes
  • Be careful of the size and weight of the boxes 
  • Correct packaging
  • Ensuring that unallowed items are not packed 

These are some basic checkpoints you need to pass. If you do them correctly, almost every company will allow you to reuse boxes. Also, there won’t be any chance of damage to your shipment too. 

One of the most important things you need to ensure is not there is that all the barcodes and tags are properly removed. Also, you need to ensure that boxes are in good condition to be reused. If not, you may want to explore the recycling possibility. 

What materials are mostly used in packaging boxes?

Most packaging boxes are made from cardboard. Cardboard boxes are made mostly from recycled paper. Therefore, it can be assumed that the main content present in cardboard boxes is cellulose which is extracted from the trees.

Cardboard is basically made from wood pulp so it is natural, organic and biodegradable. Now it might seem that this would trigger a lot of environmentally conscious people that is why no one is talking about it because it’s made from cardboard then it must be linked to deforestation but that is not the case.

The majority of the cardboard is actually made from recycled paper and this is why cardboard boxes are really good products as they reduce waste and are not responsible for any significant deforestation. 

For how long can you reuse these boxes?

Cardboard boxes can be used for up to three years after which they become brittle and fragile and cannot be used to ship anything effectively. However, they can still be used for composting and other household work.

Can cardboard boxes degrade readily?

The question is very much analogous to the biodegradability aspect of cardboard boxes. To probe into the answer to the question, it is important to know what materials are used to make cardboard boxes. 

It is unveiled that cardboard boxes are made mostly from recycled paper. Therefore, it can be assumed that the main content present in cardboard boxes is cellulose which is extracted from the trees.

Since cardboard boxes are made from natural materials (plant-based), it is very easy to conclude that cardboard boxes will degrade readily. The time taken may vary on external conditions such as sunlight, heat, aeration, et cetera. 

As a general rule, papers may degrade in 1-6 months. This time duration is very much insignificant as compared to non-biodegradable materials that may require years to degrade. 

Based on it, it can be stanced that yes, cardboard boxes can degrade readily and therefore, are regarded as readily biodegradable. 

Can you compost cardboard boxes? (5 steps)

Let’s say your cardboard box has been used many times and needs to be disposed of now. But disposing of it does not seem to be right. What other options can you explore?

Congratulations. You are at the right place. This section will discuss one of the best ways to deal with used cardboard boxes if you are not in the league (and you should not be) of disposing of them. 

One of the most eco-friendly options that you can explore is to compost cardboard boxes. Composting is the process of making compost from waste. This compost can be used as a natural fertiliser that can replace synthetic fertilisers. 

Composting is a green alternative because it offers a number of benefits that include: 

  • Increased soil fertility 
  • Increased water retention profile
  • The increased organic content of the soil
  • Better yield
  • Decreased use of agrochemicals 

Let us explore some steps to compost cardboard boxes:

  • Shred boxes into smaller pieces 
  • Add cardboard boxes to compostable waste 
  • Remember to use only clean cardboard for the composting purpose 
  • Select a place for open pile or compost bin 
  • Make green and brown layers. Green layers contains green materials like grass and brown layers is made up of carbon rich material such as food waste
  • Properly aerate and mix the alternate green and brown layers
  • Extract the compost and use it for good purposes 

Can you recycle old cardboard boxes?

Let us say that you are not really in the mood of composting cardboard boxes and want to explore other green options. Well, you are at the right place again. 

This section will cover another green strategy that you can use to deal with cardboard boxes while also ensuring that the environment is not damaged or harmed significantly.

You can also recycle old cardboard boxes. Recycling can be explained as the reusing of cardboard boxes after processing and modifications. 

Recycling offers the following advantages: 

  • Better waste management
  • Better resource management
  • Decreased pressure on raw materials
  • Decreased carbon footprint
  • Decreased energy consumption

When cardboard boxes are recycled, they are not required to be made from scratch. This saves energy and pressure on raw materials. 

The raw material source of cardboard is paper. Therefore, by recycling cardboard boxes, you are ensuring that fewer trees are cut. 

This is important because we already face grave scenarios in the context of tree cutting. It is estimated that since the conception of human ways, the tree count has decreased by more than 50%. 

Trees are the essential entities that save us from environmental anomalies. Trees are regarded as the environment cleaner because they suck carbon dioxide and release oxygen. 

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that is responsible for the causation of environmental anomalies such as global warming, deforestation, acid rain, and weather changes.  

The recycling can be done by:

  • Disposing old boxes in recycling bins
  • Transporting old boxes to recycling centres 

Does reusing Cardboard boxes actually contribute to reducing their environmental impact?

Yes, reusing Cardboard boxes, again and again, reduces the need for new boxes and the fact that these boxes can be recycled means that currently there would be no need to cut any trees for these boxes if they are recycled again and again.

We know that these boxes can serve multiple purposes in multiple industries and in houses so it would feel wrong to just throw them away in landfills where they serve no purpose. So the most appropriate way to dispose of them would be to flatten them and put them in recycling trash cans where they will be sent to recycling facilities. 

Conclusion

It is concluded that it is possible to reuse a box for shipping. Not only is it possible, but it also is advised as such because most boxes can be used for up to 3 years if taken proper care of. 

Most boxes are made from cardboard which is made from recycled paper. Cardboard boxes can be reused several times and after that, can be recycled and composted. 

Since cardboard boxes are made from natural, plant-based materials, these boxes have very little impact on the environment and are considered an eco-friendly option, much better than plastic packaging. 

Frequently Asked Questions: How to reuse a box for shipping?

What are the most common boxes used?

Cardboard boxes are the most common type of boxes used. These are made from recycled paper which is a natural material. 

References

  • Selin, E., Svensson, K., Gravenfors, E., Giovanoulis, G., Iida, M., Oskarsson, A., & Lundqvist, J. (2021). Food contact materials: an effect-based evaluation of the presence of hazardous chemicals in paper and cardboard packaging. Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A, 38(9), 1594-1607.
  • Araújo, A., Caro, C., Mendes, M. J., Nunes, D., Fortunato, E., Franco, R., … & Martins, R. (2014). Highly efficient nanoplasmonic SERS on cardboard packaging substrates. Nanotechnology, 25(41), 415202.
  • Pommier, S., Llamas, A. M., & Lefebvre, X. (2010). Analysis of the outcome of shredding pretreatment on the anaerobic biodegradability of paper and cardboard materials. Bioresource Technology, 101(2), 463-468.
  • Nabizadeh, R., Sorooshian, A., Delikhoon, M., Baghani, A. N., Golbaz, S., Aghaei, M., & Barkhordari, A. (2020). Characteristics and health effects of volatile organic compound emissions during paper and cardboard recycling. Sustainable cities and society, 56, 102005.

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