How Reuseabox is helping to create a circular economy for cardboard packaging

18 October 2020By ellie Reuseabox

How Reuseabox is helping to create a circular economy for cardboard packaging

Here at Reuseabox, we’re not like the average cardboard box company. For starters, we don’t manufacture any of our cardboard boxes. Instead, we focus on promoting a circular design within the packaging industry. We do this by making it easy for companies to reuse.

The global population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2030. We are using more resources than our planet can provide. This year the Earth Overshoot Day was July 29th, the earliest yet. Reuse will be an essential practice as we move towards a more regenerative, circular economy, as outlined in the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan earlier this year. To meet these targets we must maximize the value and benefits we get from our resources in the most sustainable way.


Working towards a circular economy

A circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy. Traditionally we would take resources, use them and then throw them away at the end of their life. A circular economy is different. It is based on 3 key concepts:


–   Products are kept in use

–   Waste and pollution is designed out

–   Our natural systems are regenerated


It aims to keep products in use for as long as possible, to ideally keep them in use and prevent waste and pollution. In turn, this creates a more sustainable way of living where our way of producing and consuming does not stand in the way of our own or future generations’ enjoyment of nature.


Circular design in cardboard packaging

So how do we apply the principle of circular design to the cardboard packaging industry? We make it easy for companies to reuse each other’s boxes. Reuse is nothing new. For decades environmentalists have been encouraging us to ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ wherever possible. This can be applied in everyday life by reusing the cardboard box that arrives with your latest Amazon purchase. Or up-cycling that tired piece of old furniture instead of simply throwing it away. But these are all things our grandparents have taught us.

If we are going to help tackle sustainability on a global level we need to think bigger. The larger companies find it particularly difficult to reuse. A brewery may receive huge quantities of cardboard layer pads in between layers of bottles. Once the bottles have been unpacked the layer pads are redundant. A food manufacturer receives a large regular supply of packing boxes, containing ingredients. Once again, these packing boxes are unpacked on-site and the boxes are left redundant in a near new condition.

Most of the time, these companies are not able to reuse the boxes themselves, so instead, they are compacted by a baling machine and sent to a recycling company to be pulped and remade back into new cardboard boxes. But is this the most sustainable option? Is it morally right or necessary to put perfectly good boxes through the recycling process, just to reprocess them back into more cardboard boxes? Recycling just 1 tonne of cardboard requires huge amounts of energy, water and produces vast quantities of CO2. Although recycling is preferable to sending materials to landfill, it should be seen as an end of life option, when the item can no longer be reused.


The Reuse-a-box Initiative

This is why Reuseabox created the Reuse-a-box Initiative, to make it easy for companies to reuse each other’s boxes. A brewery may have thousands of cardboard layer pads that it cannot use itself, whilst a dairy may be crying out for a low cost, sustainable solution for separating its milk bottles.


So how does it work?

We collect unwanted cardboard boxes or other helpful packaging materials from companies who no longer need them. These are often once used cardboard boxes but they can also be brand new surplus stock. We take this stock back to our central distribution hub where everything is sorted and re-packed. Any boxes or materials that do not make the grade are recycled locally.

We then make these boxes and packaging materials available to other companies as low cost, sustainable packaging alternatives. We’re proud of our values and we’re proud of the work we are doing to help companies become more sustainable.


Check out the stats:

For every tonne of cardboard that is reused instead of recycled:

17 trees are saved

90% less energy is used

700 x less water is used

45 x less CO2 is used


A global issue

Working towards a more regenerative, circular economy isn’t just something for the big corporations to think about. We can all begin to address the current waste crisis by changing the way we think and behave. Although our resources are limited, innovation could be the key.

The following companies are leading the way to a circular economy with innovative ways to reuse the resources we have in the most sustainable way.



Close the Loop


HYLA Mobile

Schneider Electric



Mud Jeans


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