A sudden shortage of cardboard is impacting home deliveries, as some specialist online retailers are unable to ship orders because of a lack of the correct packaging. Corrugated packaging is now in such short supply that it is being referred to as ‘beige gold’.
The pandemic caused a major shift to online shopping with non-essential physical stores closed, and a sudden shortage of cardboard led to many large retailers, including Amazon, snapping up the world’s cardboard supplies, leaving smaller firms unable to source any cardboard boxes, according to Wired.
Now industry experts are wanting that the shortage could lead to delays in deliveries, potentially damaged particles, and an increase in charges as the price of cardboard increases, trebling from $25 per tonne to $75 in three last year.
The head of consumer research at home delivery firm ParcelHero, David Jinks, explained: “The Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) says demand for cardboard boxes from online retailers is five years ahead of pre-pandemic levels.
“On top of this increased demand, lockdown means packaging is taking longer to be recycled because shops and restaurants, when they are open, recycle more quickly than domestic users. Add to the mix packaging being stockpiled in warehouses because of Brexit, and there’s little wonder there is a severe shortage.”
He said that the shortage means that individuals wanting to send a parcel are finding it increasingly difficult to source correctly sized boxes and specialist retailers are having troubling finding packaging. Companies shipping goods requiring dedicated boxes are having to delay shipments while they find alternative sources.
He also wanted about the risks of using old cardboard boxes, stating that a reused box may have become weakened, meaning it has a great potential to collapse or break open. He stressed that it was vitally important that anyone sending a parcel uses appropriate and sturdy packaging that can withstand the journey of a typical cardboard package.
“It will probably be placed in a van; moved to a distribution centre conveyor belt; loaded onto a lorry and then, if it’s an overseas parcel, transferred into the bellyhold of an aircraft. That process requires a sturdy, correctly sized cardboard outer box,” he said.
He recommends only reusing a box if it is still strong, undamaged, rigid and robust. Check for signs of damage, particularly creasing to the box sides and tears or dents to the box seams. These are tell-tale signs of a risky, weak box.
He warned trader and individuals wanting to send goods in reused packaging that they could be facing unexpectedly high fees. Airfreight is billed on the size and weight of a package, so a small item packed in a reused large box is likely to incur additional fees.
The cardboard crisis has meant that many people are now considering alternative and eco-friendly packaging materials. Jinks explained that ParcelHero was an advocate of ‘mushroom’ packaging.
Toiletry retailer Lush has already been using biodegradable packaging made from fungi-based mycelium packaging. Dell has even used this sustainable product to protect its servers during the delivery process.
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