When you hear the word “corrugated”, what may readily come to mind is roofs and roofing services. But what then do you make of it when “paper” is included? One might still hold to the term as some form of roofing material or the other. In reality, the term has nothing to do with roofs. Corrugated paper is the technical name for the material used to make cardboard boxes for packaging.

Legend has it that the ruffled lace collar of 16th century clothing was what inspired the “pleating” or “corrugating” of other materials including paper. Cardboard boxes are actually layered, arched (AKA fluted) materials which are essentially made of three sheets of paper: one wavy corrugated sheet glued between two other sheets.

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Corrugated cardboard is the most favoured international shipping option in the world because-

  • The material is specially constructed to fulfil certain criteria including the ability to cushion varying weights and protect against moisture or heat.
  • They are a sustainable packing solution. In our highly environmentally conscious world of today, these boxes are about the least expensive cartons due to their low-manufacturing cost, because its raw materials are generally sourced from a combination of recycled paper fibre and trees grown in sustainably managed forests.
  • They are also fairly easy to recycle as they can both be folded up and stored for later use or when old and worn, they can be used to produce new boxes. The recovery of these materials can even be a stream of income because there is a bustling market for the export of Old Corrugated Containers (OCC).

The export of OCC amounted to over $1.5 billion in the United States in 2015. This is possible because these corrugated boxes can be recycled about 7-10 times on an average! Even when it can no longer be recycled, it can quickly and safely biodegrade into natural materials like compost. In Nigeria, major super-marts (Shoprite, Next, Prince Ebeano etc) generate between 50-80 Tonnes annually, putting the estimated value of OCC at over NGN 1 billion.

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Manufacturing of Corrugated boxes have their own fair environmental challenge, after all they are made from tree which in effect leads to deforestation when uncontrolled. Falling of trees and hence the resultant deforestation has raised clamours for alternative packaging that does not depend on the falling of trees. Most alternatives will not be able to function as efficiently. These alternate options tend to consume more shipping space and weight with a lower choice of sizing and most importantly are made from non-renewable fossil resources. So, we say, PLANT double the fallen trees

Now that you know your old cartons are worth something, any ideas on how they can be used around the house besides packing away old stuff? Share them in the comments below.

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