Eco-Friendly Packaging from Cardboard Waste

27 December 2021 Shares

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By Recycling.com/ 27 December 2021 Shares

Eco-Friendly Packaging from Cardboard Waste

Can shredded cardboard substitute your current packing materials?
Updated on December 27, 2021 | Author: Diana Tran

With a cardboard shredder, you are able to convert cardboard waste into free, sustainable, and well-protective packing material. Is a cardboard shredding machine something for your business? At Recycling.com, we receive lots of questions from companies all over the world about these packaging machines. Can this cushioning material, made of your cardboard waste, fully substitute the current packaging materials you use for your shipments? Let’s find out.

The short answer: Yes, cardboard forms a great alternative, and it is an eco-friendly and cost-saving solution. This means you really can exchange your costly plastic bubble wrap, packing peanuts, kraft paper, or air pillows with your own shredded or perforated cardboard.

how-to-shred-cardboard-with-hsm-cardboard-shredder
Convert cardboard waste into eco-friendly packaging material.

Therefore, we created this comprehensive article about the use of shredded cardboard as packaging. We’ve done the research, interviewed an expert, and compiled everything you need to know about this topic.


The Expert Opinion

hsm-cardboard-balers

We’ve interviewed a sales representative at HSM USA, a well-known manufacturer of cardboard shredders. They are experts on shredding devices, such as cardboard shredders and paper shredders. Like us, they also receive questions regularly about the use of perforated cardboard.

Most of your packing materials can be replaced by cardboard padding you produce with a cardboard perforator.

According to HSM, all packaging materials can be replaced by shredded cardboard. Think about packing peanuts, bubble wrap, and air pillows. For more fragile items, such as wine bottles, using thicker corrugated padding with 2-3 layers is recommended. Besides shredded cardboard is an eco-friendly way to protect and ship packages, it also reduces the disposal costs of cardboard waste.


Reference

“We have the HSM Profipack P425 at Air Plant Shop. It has allowed us to completely eliminate the use of bubble wrap at our facility. This is a huge accomplishment!”
Air Plant Shop | Customer testimonial




What Are the Most Common Types Of  Shredded Cardboard Packaging Materials?

Most cardboard shredders convert cardboard into padding, a cushioning cardboard mat that reminds the most of bubble wrap. This is the reason why most cardboard shredders are cardboard perforators. It depends on the type of cardboard shredder what type of packaging materials the machine produces. Less common are cardboard shredders that produce strips or chips.

Shredded cardboard Eco-Friendly Packaging Materials - types

Before highlighting the eco-friendly types of cardboard packaging material that may be applicable to your business and operations, it is important to identify exactly what types there are.

reuse-reduce-recycle-icon70% of all consumers are likely to be influenced by sustainable packaging.


Therefore, we have listed you the pros and cons of each cutting mode.

Cardboard padding

Pros

padding and flexible netting, protect products during transit, the best solution to replace plastic packaging materials

Cons

heavier than most plastic packing materials, bigger footprint during transportation

Expand your knowledge about the difference and how it works:

Cardboard strips / chips

Pros

trim cardboard of any size, best way for special packaging applications, use for volume reduction and void fill

Cons

not sturdy and protective enough and could damage the items inside, bigger footprint during transportation, more dust

Expand your knowledge about the difference and how it works:



Are Your Current Packaging Materials Replaceable?

Many consumers and companies have become more environmentally conscious. You might be surprised how many options of reusing and recycling packaging there are for it. But which of your packing materials are replaceable for an eco-friendly alternative? Also, how well is your product protected during transit?

 

Simply put, one of these alternatives are biodegradable packaging materials, which could help with the current reliance on single-use plastic packaging. These works in the same way as the Styrofoam peanuts. Although, biodegradable plastics are more expensive than standard plastics on a weight basis.

Cardboard-mono-filling-packaging-material
Cardboard void filling material

By seeking biodegradable alternatives, we may help the environment, but we think that corrugated cardboard is the go-to solution for packaging sustainability because they’re organic. Especially when you have a lot of cardboard waste you normally don’t reuse.

reuse-reduce-recycle-icon“Approximately 32.1 million tons of corrugated boxes were recycled out of 33.9 million tons of total paper and paperboard recycling.”(2018) –EPA.gov

Another popular eco-friendly alternative is traditional paper. Either it comes in rolled paper or as crinkled paper. Basically, crinkled paper looks like confetti and can be filled space, blocking or cushioning. Keep in mind that packaging paper provides decent protection and not full protection.

So, which packaging materials are the best to fill voids and cushioning needs? Let’s take a look at the most common materials next.


Is There an Eco-Friendly Alternative to Bubble Wrap?

Eco-Friendly Packaging Materials - bubble wrap

Product Details

Function

Bubble wrap is a way to protect goods that are easily scratched, for instance, fragile items. It’s perfect to use as void filling or blocking and bracing.


Average costs

A small roll (150″ x 12″) costs roughly $20, and for a bulk roll (250″ x 12″), approx. $30.



Pros

Lightweight.

Reusable (only if the bubbles are intact).

Cost-effective.

Ideal for absorbing shock.

Cons

Standard plastic bubble warp is not bio-degradable.

Biodegradable peanuts cost more to produce and can be dissolved in water.

Carbon intensive to get the material delivered.



An Eco-Friendly Alternative 


Eco-Friendly Packaging Materials - netting
Cardboard Padding


Cardboard padding is a great alternative to plastic bubble wrap. Most cardboard shredders convert the cardboard into shock-absorbing cushioning material, that is easily wrapped around products and can be used as void fill for protection during shipment.




Eco-Friendly Packaging Materials - strips
Cardboard Strips


A cardboard shredder shreds chips or strips, which can be used to keep items from shifting around in the box. This eco-friendly alternative is perfect to use as void fill. But the chips or strips offer less dampening or cushioning features in comparison to cardboard padding.


Get Inspiration About The Cardboard Shredder



Is There an Eco-Friendly Alternative to Packing Peanuts?

Eco-Friendly Packaging Materials - peanuts

Product Details

Function

The function of packing peanuts is void fill and it helps to absorb shocks. This packaging material can be used to protect loose items to keep them from sliding into each other inside of the cardboard box.


Average costs

The average price of one bag of regular packing peanuts costs $16.50 (around 30 gallons 4 cubic feet).



Pros

Relatively inexpensive to buy.

Businesses have started producing biodegradable peanuts that are made of renewable plant starches.

Cons

Require a lot of space.

Challenging to dispose of, and take years to begin to break down in landfills.

Downright messy when opening the package.

Not ideal for fragile items.



An Eco-Friendly Alternative 


Eco-Friendly Packaging Materials - chips
Cardboard Chips


The cardboard chips variant features shock-absorbing qualities, meaning that it’s manufactured with a layer of “cells”. Therefore, the cardboard void filling chips are resistant to moving around in the parcel when being shipped. Nevertheless, we advise you to not use cardboard chips for protecting fragile items, instead make use of cardboard padding.




Eco-Friendly Packaging Materials- netting
Cardboard Netting


The cardboard netting mats are an eco-friendly bubble wrap alternative. This packaging material is stretchable and wraps around your items. It is also used as void fill.


Get Inspiration About The Cardboard Shredder



Is There an Eco-Friendly Alternative to Kraft Paper?

Kraft paper Eco-Friendly Packaging Materials

Product Details

Function

Kraft paper is produced from chemical pulp and is often used to fill the space inside the packages. It can also be used to wrap around the product to protect it from scratches.


Average costs

The estimated cost of kraft paper is between $32 to $44 per kg.



Pros

Supported by natural raw materials.

Lightweight.

Non-toxic and pollution-free

Cons

Poor water-resistance.

No cushioning features to protect an item during transit.



An Eco-Friendly Alternative 


Eco-Friendly Packaging Materials - cushioning
Cardboard Padding


The cardboard padding provides optimal product protection during shipping. If necessary, you can use multiple layers of padding for extra protection.




Eco-Friendly Packaging Materials - strips
Cardboard Strips


Also, strips or chips are an option, but please note that this alternative can’t protect fragile items such as glass containers, like perfume bottles or wine bottles.


Get Inspiration About The Cardboard Shredder



Is There an Eco-Friendly Alternative to Air Pillows?

_air pillows-Eco-Friendly Packaging Materials

Product Details

Function

This alternative fills voids, blocks, and holds products away from the edges. Compared to packing peanuts, air pillows don’t allow movement while in transit.


Average costs

One roll (200mm roll with 120 mm perforations) of air pillows would cost $75 – $95.



Pros

Extremely versatile and lightweight, therefore zero additional weight to your shipment.

Easy opening and less mess for customers.

Saves storage space because it’s uninflated.

Cons

Not good at protecting heavier items, air pillows can deflate.

Air inside can expand if exposed to too much heat.

Not suitable for products with sharp edges, otherwise they can pop.

Requires an ‘air filler’ machine.



An Eco-Friendly Alternative 


Eco-Friendly Packaging Materials - cushioning
Cardboard Padding


A plastic-free alternative to air pillows is cushioning cardboard. This alternative is ideal for filling gaps around the product and stopping items from moving around in the box. Cardboard padding is stretchable and you can crumple it up to form a soft ‘birds nest’ to place your products in. The biggest advantage is that cardboard padding can’t deflate like air pillows.




Eco-Friendly Packaging Materials - strips
Cardboard Strips


Another environmentally friendly option are cardboard strips. With these strips, you can fill the void around the product inside of the parcel. Keep in mind, that this eco-friendly alternative doesn’t offer equal protection as cardboard padding


Get Inspiration About The Cardboard Shredder


To sum this up…

Our cooperation partner and product specialist from HSM said that there are no downsides to using shredded cardboard. They advised using cardboard padding as the best form of cardboard packaging because this option offers the best features in order to protect your items.

If you’re unsure whether these packaging materials are the best for you or if you need further information contact us.


How To Reduce The Cost Of Packaging Materials?

Companies spend a lot of money on packaging material and customers are pickier than ever. Nowadays, lots of consumers expect sustainability. With that being said, there are simple ways your business can reduce packaging costs.

The first step could be reinventing the way you operate by repurposing your cardboard waste. Secondly, the materials, size and weight are an important factor because it determines how much you pay for shipping. Less weight and the right size can save your back pocket. 

 

Also, many businesses overlook packaging and opt for the wrong size box, for instance for an oversized packaging which takes up more space.

reuse-reduce-recycle-iconAn environmental rule: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Learn more about waste hierarchy!

 

Shredded materials have become a huge component of most distribution and manufacturing companies. Thus, recycling machinery just like the cardboard shredder can save your budget without losing time.


Conclusion

A cardboard shredder really is an investment. This means you earn your investment back over time. A cardboard perforator produces free packaging material, which means you reduce or even eliminate the need of buying packaging materials, such as bubble wrap or air pillows. By reusing your cardboard you immediately reduce the volume of cardboard waste, which results in lower costs for waste hauling.

Furthermore, there are more advantages:

  • Opportunity for increased sales
  • Enhanced consumer satisfaction through eco-friendly packaging materials
  • Reduction of carbon footprint
  • More eco-friendly image
  • Easier for the customer to dispose of the packing material because it is 100% cardboard.

Check Out The Benefits



A Briefly Definition Of  The Packaging Materials

Bubble Wrap

Bubble Wrap is made of a three-dimensional plastic polymer film that consists of pockets of air. It is a transparent plastic packaging product. We’ve all experienced joy while popping tiny air bubbles in our lifetime. 


Packing Peanuts

Also known as foam popcorn, packing noodles, or foam peanuts. It looks like the snack peanut and is small pieces of Styrofoam. It is pretty annoying for most consumers because they have a tendency to stick to other surfaces – meaning it makes opening packages messier.


Kraft Paper

The most commonly used material in packaging is the Kraft paper, commonly referred to as brown paper, butcher paper or packing paper. Basically, it is a high-quality paperboard.


Air Pillows

Similar to bubble wrap, air pillows have thin sheets. These sheets are filled with air and are light as a feather. Unlike bubble wrap, this option will provide a higher level of protecting products.  


Pillars of Sustainability - Eco-Friendly Packaging Materials
Pillars of Sustainability

How Much Cardboard Waste Do You Need To Produce Your Own Cardboard Padding Material?

It really depends on the size of the parcel and what type of product you want to ship. A cardboard shredder comes with a scale, which makes it easy to convert cardboard into the desired width and length so it fits perfectly inside of the box.


Tips: What To Do With Shredded Cardboard?

Now you know which packing materials are replaceable or not, we want to give you some ideas and inspiration on what you can do with shredded cardboard packaging materials.

reuse-reduce-recycle-iconWhy not giving the waste product a second lifecycle?


Pack Delicate Items with It

If you want to pack delicate items, we recommend shredded cardboard. This material replaces, for instance, Styrofoam popcorn and bubble wrap very well. A shredded paper will avoid bumps or shifts. So, they don’t move around too much during transit.


Use It As Stuffing

You can also use shredded cardboard for stuffing all sorts of things, especially for fragile items. For instance, glasses: You can fill the shredded cardboard inside the glass , so it won’t break too easily.


Cardboard For Composting

Composting is one of the most environmentally friendly solutions. This is an excellent way and can be used as a natural fertilizer.


Cardboard For Pet-Bedding

This is a good alternative to comfort your animals. And who knows, maybe your little animals have fun with it too? Besides that, you can also donate your shredded cardboard to a veterinarian.