A corrugated cardboard box is the typical choice of packaging material for all items, even liquid and other dangerous products. Although it is strong enough to hold a lot of weight and can be stacked over for mass shipping, cardboard boxes aren’t exactly damage proof. After all, it’s made out of paper and can get ripped, crumpled, deformed or get damaged from weather conditions.
For logistic companies, the damage mostly occurs in the warehouse or during transit. At home, damage happens because of moisture, termites or the items stored inside. Protecting or preventing cardboard box does take some work and attention to the contents inside. Here, in this article, I’ve explained how cardboard boxes get damaged and how it can be prevented.
How cardboard boxes get damaged at home?
The first mistake by homeowners is that they store items in used cardboard boxes, either that came with their furniture, electronic items or food products. Used cardboard boxes are already damaged to some extent. It has already got some dents and deformation and has probably lost most of its structural integrity. If you want to use cardboard boxes to store items, we suggest a buy a new one from the store.
Recycle used cardboard box:
Used boxes that come with your products were not used right after it was minted new from the factory. Product manufacturers use cardboard boxes that have been staked in their warehouse for some time. It has already been exposed to weather conditions such as moisture, heat, etc. Furthermore, it has already started to degrade and by the time it reaches your home, the box has lost most of its strength. The flute structure that holds the box has probably flattened out. So, a used cardboard box should only be dumped out to recycle.
Refrain from pests and bugs:
At home, most boxes get damaged by pests and bugs. Unwisely people stack cardboard boxes that contained food items, making it extremely vulnerable to spiders, mouse, bed bugs, termites, crickets, etc. Not only does it destroy the box, but it also damages the items stores inside.
Moisture is a hidden danger:
There is also the danger of moisture. If there’s water seepage in your house, you will find your box has turned to pulp. If you have stored some clothing items, that were still wet, the box is going to get mold and mildew and will get damaged. Some store liquid items, which may spill or leak and damage the box.
Overstock box with heavy object:
Many have a habit of hoarding cardboard boxes, making an unnecessary mess and lose storage spaces. The cardboard boxes attract termites, bed bugs, cockroaches and other bugs, infesting your house with pests, which otherwise shouldn’t have happened. Overstacking boxes with heavy objects in it will also destroy cardboard boxes, starting from the one that’s at the bottom.
How cardboard boxes get damaged in shipping?
If you are a home-based e-commerce company and you keep getting complaints about damaged packaging and good, you are not alone. Packaged items don’t always reach in mint condition to their customers. When you are using a shipping service, they are always on the line in delivering products on time and almost always have a tight schedule.
Most package handlers in the shipping companies will not treat your package differently. Packages reach several depots and are handled multiple times at multiple locations until it reaches your customers. Here are some common factors why cardboard box packages get damaged in shipping.
Road hazards to delivery trucks are not uncommon. They usually run at high speeds and because of its bulky nature, the trucks be slide or bounce and vibrate. Accidents could happen for any reason, be it animals, other irresponsible drivers, unmarked speed bumps, etc. Sometimes poor road conditions would cause the boxes in the ruck to topple over, bounce, slide or collide with other boxes. Just being on the road, the package has already taken significant damages.
It is possible that the package may be temporarily stacked on the ground or exposed to a shower of rain while loading. Changing climate condition when shipped internationally could also cause your box to grow some mold and mildew. If it has soaked some water, the box could crumble under pressure. Extreme heat or extreme cold could damage the structural strength of the box and cause it to break off.
Damages in the warehouse
Natural disasters are uncommon but could a profound cause of cardboard package damage. Fire, flood, boxes toppling over, you name it. Mishandling and attempt to burglary could also damage the packaging. You may have packed your items right but you can’t expect it from everyone and in the warehouse, there will other deformed boxes with heavier objects that could also damage your cardboard package.
While loading or unloading
Trucks go fully loaded with all sorts of packages and not just cardboard boxes. While there could be wooden boxes as well and the package handler may just toss your box like its made of wood. Be it in the truck or in the airplane all packages are tossed away to the end of the cargo. They usually have less time and have to load or unload a lot of packages, so they don’t particularly go easy on the boxes, even if it has the ‘Fragile’ label on it. Moreover, the way boxes are stacked in the truck, it could slide around or drop in transit.
Other heavier packages
Your item could be rightly packed in the cardboard box but others may not. Along with your box, there could be much heavier items, loosely packed which could drop on your box and crumple it. If there are liquid items in other packages and it wasn’t sealed well, the fluid could just spill around and damage your box.
If you have used a thin cardboard box for heavier objects or have reused old cardboard boxes, it is most likely to get damaged by the time it reaches its customer. Sometimes poor packaging could also be the cause. Heavier objects such as electronic items should be packed with proper bubble warps or fillers or styrofoam packaging. If the item is left loose in the box, it could damage the box in transit or during handling.
How to protect cardboard box from damage?
Protecting cardboard boxes at home
If it’s a used cardboard box, dump it out; end of story! If you have bought a few new cardboard boxes from the store and want to store your items in it, there could be a few ways to prevent damages.
First off, find a dry spot in your house and don’t stack it where there’s water seepage. Avoid storing it in the shade or near the window where it may get charred from heat. Make sure there is no open window near the stored cardboard box. Discard any box that had food items in it. Dump away boxes if you find food stains or glue marks as it may attract some pests.
Cardboard boxes are a good source of cellulose for termites, so it is wise to pre-treat the area for termite control. It also necessary for you to check your cardboard boxes from time to time for any pest infestation. Avoid keeping the box on the floor as it may attract mice and cockroaches. If it’s on the shelves make sure there are no spider nest nearby.
Stack the heaviest box at the bottom and lighter on top. Seal off your items and keep a mothball if you are storing clothes. If you are transporting items, make sure it is stacked and stored in a way that it doesn’t drop to deform.
Keep your boxes away from cats as they have a tendency to shred cardboard boxes. Most importantly, don’t be oblivious about your stored items.
If you are storing valuable items and want to prevent moisture, you could use lamination on all sides or spray a rubberized coating to protect cardboard box from water damage.
Protecting cardboard boxes while shipping
First off start with the right corrugated cardboard box. Choose either a triple wall or double wall cardboard box even if you are shipping lighter items. Wrap the item in a plastic or polyethylene container so that even if the box gets damaged in water, it shouldn’t reach the item. To prevent mold and mildew or moisture buildup use moisture-absorbing sheets.
If you are carrying heavier items, use foam inserts so that it doesn’t burst out of the edges. For oddly shaped items use bubble wraps, air pockets or peanut fillers so that the items don’t move in transit.
Shrink wrap or bubble wrap the cardboard box to prevent any water seepage. The package may get exposed to the bad weather condition while loading or unloading the package.
Label your package according to the item you are carrying and the weight capacity of the box. If possible use a box within a box packaging for valuable items.
If you are sending several packages, you can pack the whole thing in one unit using shrink wraps or other tying equipment.
How to fix or restore a damaged cardboard box?
Although it is advised to dump away damaged cardboard boxes, if you insist on fixing the box, there are a few ways. However, you should not that it is only a temporary fix; you have to get fresh new boxes later.
Ripped edges are pretty easy to fix, but they don’t hold for long. You can duct tape or use shipping tapes both on the inside and outside the box. Same goes for the ripped flaps.
Uneven flap ends
If something took a bite out of the flaps, you can make do a fix using duct tape. Simply run half of the duct tape on the flap ends and wrap around the edge to stick on the other side. If much of the flap is lost, you can cut out a piece of cardboard from other boxes and staple it on the flaps.
For a damaged base, you could run layers of duct tape across the base both inside and outside. You could also use hot glue to stick the flaps together.
If your cardboard box has a crumpled side, you could try to flatten it out using weight. Simply lay the crumpled side down and place some weight on the side in the box. A few books would be enough to give the needed pressure and weight. Some even moisten the side a little with water and then put pressure. Leave it for a few days and see if it has flattened.
How to recycle damaged cardboard box?
Many people have a nasty habit of hoarding cardboard boxes, especially women. Even if it’s ripped off and turned to pulp, some can’t just get rid of it. When they receive their Amazon package, they not only keep the stuff inside it but also the box itself. Little do they know that used packaged cardboard boxes are meant to recycle and not upcycle. But these boxes do come apart and that’s when people decide to recycle it.
Cardboard boxes can be recycled over seven times, but not all boxes are worthy of recycling. For example pizza boxes; they are finished with your pizza the box is left with grease, cheese stains, etc. which renders the box unfit for recycling. Here are a few steps you should follow to recycle your cardboard box.
First off empty your box by removing styrofoam, filler, and peanuts. However, if you have crumpled paper, it can be recycled as well. You could leave the tape and labels from your box, as it will be removed in the recycling process. Still, it doesn’t kill any time to remove it.
Check if the box is dry and clean without any food stain or liquid spots. It’s ok if the box is ripped, damaged or bent. But, food stains and oil spots cannot be recycled.
If your boxes get wet, take the time to dry it out before giving it up for recycling. If there are grease and oil stain in the box, you could cut out those areas with a blade or scissors, so that the box can be recycled.
Flatten out the cardboard boxes or rip them into pieces and keep only clean boxes for recycling. Not all cardboard boxes can be recycled; you should check with your local municipality for rules and tips on recycling pizza boxes, juice containers, etc.
Gather all your flattened cardboard boxes and tie them up in a bundle for easy handling. Place these damaged boxes outside for collection. You could also look up online for a list of municipal curbside programs and drop-off locations.
Finally, place the boxes near the bin, not in it. Placing the cardboard box near the recycle bin helps the cleaning agents to recycle the boxes properly.
Cardboard boxes are strong enough to safely transport your items from one place to another. Being made out of paper, it is not indestructible. Usually, a new cardboard box is used to package items and by the time it reaches its destination, the box has already suffered enough damage. Even if you buy and store new boxes in your home, there’s always a chance of pest infestation especially termites and moisture damage. Moreover, these boxes don’t exactly make for a good storage solution. If you are storing clothes, it either fades or gets dyed by the box. In the event, you store food items, it would leave a stain at some point. If you are storing electronic items, there’s a danger of moisture. Cardboard boxes are destined to get damage. If you insist you can follow the aforementioned tips to preserve your boxes, if not forever.