Cardboard boxes are commonly seen as an environmentally friendly packaging option. It’s true that cardboard is easy to recycle, biodegradable and non-toxic. However, like all packaging, cardboard has an environmental impact that must be considered.
How Many Trees Does it take to make a cardboard box?
It takes around 5 trees to make 1 tonne of cardboard which makes about 1,950 average sized packing boxes. This means 1 tree is needed to make just 390 boxes. (According to data generated from the Reuseabox Environmental Tool).
However, it’s important to remember that only a small amount of the tree goes to the paper-based packaging industry. The rest is used as timber to make things like buildings or furniture.
The harsh reality of recycling cardboard
Cardboard is one of the most commonly recycled materials. According to DEFRA’s UK Statistics on Waste, over 70% of paper and cardboard was recovered and recycled in 2021. But what most people don’t realise is that cardboard can’t be recycled infinitely. The more it’s recycled, the more the fibres are stretched, which affects the quality of the board. While most ‘new’ boxes are manufactured using recycled pulp, the quality of this pulp varies.
To counteract this problem, manufacturers often add in a proportion of new pulp to strengthen the box. So even when you recycle a box, it’s likely that more trees will need to be cut down to turn that box back into another cardboard box.
Reuse your boxes to lower your environmental impact
The most responsible way to use a cardboard box is to reuse it as many times as possible before it’s recycled. Boxes can easily be unfolded and stored flat pack when not in use, ready to reuse at a later date. If you’ve purchased boxes to move house but you think you’ll no longer need them, why not advertise them on a local site such as Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree.
When you reuse a cardboard box just once you reduce your environmental impact and save trees, carbon, water and energy! Find out more about the benefits of Cardboard Reuse.
If you’re a business, Reuseabox can provide you with Once Used Cardboard Boxes to pack your products. For Producers of Cardboard Boxes in large volumes, we can collect your boxes free of charge and ensure they go back into the supply chain for a second use. That’s why we call it, the Reuse Revolution.