Better Bulk Containers – for the 21st century

Delivery and Containers in Apartment Buildings

Deliveries and containers such as cartons have accumulated on people’s doorsteps and in apartment buildings across the United States for several years. Faster delivery, more liberal return policies, and the provision of free shipping have all benefited the growth of the retail e-commerce sector.

Amazon alone sent over 5 billion goods through Prime in 2017, and the company said in 2019 that it will expand its same-day delivery service to encompass more than 10 million products.

 

Strength and sustainability in packaging

Because it is strong and substantial, the corrugated box is an excellent medium for transporting items, and it also reduces the chance of an item being destroyed along the supply chain. Corrugated boxes include the brown paper box, which is used to distribute about 95% of all items in the United States. Corrugated boxes are without a doubt the greatest mousetraps on the market.

It transports items from A to B and then may be recycled or reused. Amazon spent $27 billion on shipping in 2018, more than double the amount it spent the previous year.

The paper and packaging industries have benefited from this trend, as the shift to digital devices has resulted in a decline in the production of copy paper and newspaper. It has definitely been a source of visible growth for businesses during periods of evident decline in other areas of their operations. It has been a source of visible improvement within businesses, though I hesitate to call it a savior. Amazon has been blamed for a variety of things, from the decline of brick-and-mortar shopping to the US Postal Service’s financial difficulties. On the other side, the development of e-commerce shipping boxes has revitalized the formerly moribund cardboard box sector.

A new threat to the container and boxing industry has emerged in the shape of lighter, more affordable plastic packing, which has grown in popularity in recent years as a result of a shift in the way commodities are transported.

Amazon

While Amazon strives to minimize its carbon impact, the containerboard sector braces for the consequences.

Which begs the issue of whether paper-based cardboard boxes, which have been used for decades and prospered in the age of e-commerce, will survive a succession of headwinds, or whether these containers and cardboard box designs may confront a new competitor.

In the United States, cardboard boxes are fairly ubiquitous. In terms of population and wealth, the United States resembles a tree-covered Saudi Arabia.

Their tubular design has been rigorously tested and meets international standards, and they are available in a variety of material-handling configurations.

Almost certainly, one of the first bulk containers will be built by a mill, most likely in the Southeast United States. Without a certain, China lacks trees, and to the degree that India does have trees, they are not necessarily the proper sorts, and they should not be committed to box production.

The box business expanded fast until 1999, when the coordinated box market in the United States reached its highest number of shipments. Beginning in the early 2000s, the corrugated box market in the United States experienced a number of economic challenges. The Great Depression had a significant impact on box consumption, and even when the crisis ended, demand for consumer items such as soda and the boxes used to transport them remained low.

The transition to digital devices was accompanied by a decline in demand for copy paper and newspapers. Throughout the crisis and the early post-recession years, however, box manufacturers found a savior in e-commerce sales in general, and particularly in Amazon sales, which increased at usually double-digit rates. For the containerboard business, e-commerce sales have grown to be a substantial source of revenue and profit. Recent study indicates that e-commerce sales in the United States rose by more than 50% between 2015 and 2018, reaching $512 billion in 2018.

Amazon accounted for 48% of those sales, showing the even greater demand for large containers. According to most estimates, e-commerce accounts for roughly 10% of the total box market in the United States. Amazon accounts for around 5% of total box demand in the United States. According to our estimations, they are the single largest box consumer in the United States. International Paper, with a third of the market and, in my judgment, over half of all Amazon boxes, appears to have a somewhat larger market share than some of the other firms.

According to experts, Amazon conducts business with the lion’s share of the country’s large-box retailers. International Paper, WestRock, Packaging Corporation of America, and Georgia-Pacific are among the companies that make paper.

Among the characteristics are removable lids and molded bottoms with a four-way pallet or fork entry. Collapsible Bulk Containers with a 62-1/2″ Outside Length These reusable, moisture-resistant containers stack easily to conserve warehouse space and are easy to clean.

Numerous investors turned to these firms as a means to invest in Amazon without purchasing the company’s expensive shares.

In the last five years, many have begun seriously considering the possibility of purchasing International Paper or WestRock as a supplementary investment in Amazon. Apart from an increase in sales as a result of e-commerce, the box sector has not experienced substantial growth in recent years.

Since the start of 2018, their shares have mostly trailed the S&P 500. According to the company, the box business accounted for 69% of total income in 2018, and sales volume has been reasonably stable over the last five years.

Less Boxes in the  mail

Despite the fact that the major manufacturers sold fewer boxes in 2018 than in 2000, industry consolidation has resulted in a significant reduction in the number of accessible fields.

The remaining major players have their headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee, Atlanta, Georgia, and Lake Forest, Illinois, respectively, and do the majority of their business within the United States. Analysts told CNBC that large-scale industry consolidation and the proliferation of security conscious bulk container makers made it simpler for enterprises to hike prices together, and that price increases helped companies gain money. There are undoubtedly segments of the industry that are seeing secular decline, but if you work in the brown segment of the business, manufacturing these boxes, you’ve experienced some very remarkable growth in recent years.

Customers have voiced dissatisfaction with the influx of more boxes stacking up on their doorsteps, since they are tired of getting golf ball-sized items in supersized boxes, which wastes room for both the product and the recipient. When you ordered a toothbrush, it used to arrive in three large boxes, leaving you perplexed as to what you’d ordered.

Boat Dock Storage Boxes are constructed of heavy-duty white fiberglass, which is an example of overkill for an underkill product.

On the other hand, Amazon is attempting to resolve the issue by using fewer boxes and, where required, utilizing other packing methods. Amazon changed the way they ship after receiving criticism for their e-commerce packaging.

Amazon launched the Frustration Free Packaging initiative in 2008 to alleviate consumer irritation. Its goal is to minimize the additional packing generated when retail packaged items are placed inside Amazon boxes and sent to customers.

Rather than that, items certified for the program must be packaged in their own shipment boxes that are ready to ship from the factory. Additionally, such packaging must be entirely recyclable. This means that the packaging is easily recyclable and that the box may be opened without the need of a large amount of additional packaging materials.

For a duration of one year. Amazon gave businesses a one-dollar reward every shipment in exchange for altering their packaging. Additionally, beginning August 1st, 2019, Amazon will charge a $1.99 reboxing fee for any product that requires reboxing. And, in essence, this deadline is intended to force Amazon to quit the packaging business entirely. The company appreciates that its vendors provide them with packages that do not require Amazon to handle or repackage. Amazon says that in the ten years from the program’s inception in 2008, it has saved them 500 million shipping boxes and 244,000 tons of packing material. Consumers are still responsible for dismantling and properly recycling corrugated waste; this is only a recognition of our desire for e-commerce to be the most environmentally friendly and convenient option for our consumers.

The corrugated sector has been forced to rethink its business strategy as a result of Amazon’s strategic change.

International Paper’s First-Quarter Results

According to an email sent to CNBC by International Paper, “in the outset of economic expansion, forecasting demand was extremely difficult.”

The use of appropriately sized packaging emphasizes increased efficiency.”

However, the future may be bleak for cardboard box manufacturers, as Amazon continues to use fewer and smaller cardboard boxes in its deliveries, increasing the amount of space available for wrapping but also increasing the probability of damaged products in a small box.

Prior to Amazon Prime’s launch in 2005, free two-day shipping was unheard of. It is now considered routine technique.
Amazon has switched to plastic envelopes and bags for many of its smaller items in an effort to cut costs and expedite the shipping of an ever-increasing volume of products. T-shirts, for instance, may be carried in a flexible plastic envelope since they do not require box packing.

As a result, you’ve probably seen an increasing number of items packaged in flexible plastic envelopes. Amazon has been attempting to decrease costs for the last year or two, and this is only one component of a broader cost-cutting initiative. Our recent recognition that flexible packaging of all types plays a critical role has resulted in our reducing our overall reliance on corrugated packaging and shifting the shipping of many of our smaller goods to flexible packaging rather than corrugated. It substantially increased our ability to wean ourselves off corrugated cardboard. Sealed Air, the packaging business that created bubble wrap in 1957, began collaborating with Amazon in 2007 on the development of inflatable pillows for the company’s new book delivery service.

Applicable food packaging requirements

Packaging for e-commerce has evolved throughout time. It all began with a rather simple concept. Whatever you received was almost certainly packaged in a manner intended to be sent on a pallet and sold in a store; their packaging solution is not intended for consumers seeking a reusable container.

That is precisely what e-commerce businesses did: they took those products and packaged them differently. What has changed is the availability of a greater variety of packaging alternatives. Mailers are a low-margin commodity in general, and as a result, the mailer industry is very competitive.

In 2019, Sealed Air, a global leader in protective packaging, will create food packaging, air pillows, and automated packaging solutions for the e-commerce sector. Sealed Air made $4.7 billion in revenue in 2018, a small increase over the previous year’s $4.5 billion.

When it comes to the challenges faced by e-commerce fulfillment firms, the bulk center around shipping costs. After all, if you offer shipping, someone must pay for it, and in most cases, that someone is the e-commerce fulfillment firm. There is a great desire to decrease labor requirements; nevertheless, labor is difficult to retain and expensive; so, automation has been an area in which we have devoted substantial effort – utilizing a reused container will benefit only those who return a product. This perspective, however, results in less sales since conversion rates increase when a consumer is permitted to return an item that does not fit. Reusable plastic bags are becoming increasingly prevalent on the market as a result of this.

About 2010 marks the start of Amazon’s usage of Jiffy padded envelopes with Kraft paper on the exterior and plastic bubbles on the inside; they are not the same as the stand-up polyurethane bags previously used for delivery. Over the previous two years, we’ve developed a variety of various sorts of flexible mailers. One of the possibilities is a blue and white polyethylene mailer with a blue and white logo. In the last six to eight months, a range of paper padded mailers have been introduced; they are 100 percent recyclable together with the rest of the paper recycling stream.

applicable food packaging requirements

Reducing the environmental impact of plastic envelopes

According to Amazon, approximately 10 million individual unit packages have been transported using paper padded envelopes, with the plastic mailer accounting for between 20% and 30% of all shipments, depending on the month. We have concluded that mailing is always the better fit option because if the unit is the correct size to fit in the mailer, it is unlikely to be damaged by the mailer, the mailer is always the better fit option, and it is also easier for the customer to recycle the mailer than it is to break down a corrugated box. Numerous reasons impacted our decision to follow that approach. However, because those plastic mailers are often not accepted in municipal recycling programs, you’ll need to transport them to a facility that takes plastic bags in order to recycle them properly.

Given the fact that many municipalities provide film recycling and take-back programs through participating retailers, utilizing a plastic envelope makes logical. However, we’ve transitioned from a single non-recyclable option to two recyclable options. Utilizing plastic envelopes has a number of environmental benefits. A corrugated box consumes 23 times the energy and emits six times the CO2 as a bubble mailer throughout the manufacturing process. Plastic mailers take up less room in shipping containers and vehicles, resulting in more efficient transportation in general. On the other hand, stacking cardboard boxes is far more effective at load bearing (equivalent to a metal frame) – as a result of the packing of this content and the ability to stack the items, freight costs are significantly lowered. The availability of a broad range of these materials has resulted in decreased return shipment costs, especially when the user includes reusable mailers into their supply chain.

However, not everyone agrees on the paper vs. plastic argument.
According to environmentalists, plastic mailers are no more environmentally friendly than paper mailers in practice.
According to them, these items must be recycled separately from other plastics and are not recyclable in curbside recycling bins owing to their chemical composition. Recycling presents two main difficulties. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s most recent data, 13% of plastic bags, sacks, and wraps were recycled in 2015. Corrugated boxes were recycled at a rate of 92 percent in 2015. Consider this: after getting everything securely and on time, what is the primary source of discontent for the consumer? It will take anything made of plastic or polyethylene due to environmental concerns.

 

The impact of plastic mailers on recycling

According to several waste management organizations, plastic packaging is also a source of complications for recycling systems. Plastic mailers become entangled in recycling equipment, causing the process to be delayed and recycling prices to increase. They pose the risk of contaminating entire bundles of recyclable materials. Meanwhile, I feel Amazon is a positive development for the corrugated box industry until Scotty on the Enterprise beams items directly from the warehouse to your living room. I believe there will be considerable uproar, and there will be moments when people will inquire, “Should we try utilizing the plastic pouch?” I believe that plastic will eventually become obsolete, and that because Amazon is the market leader in the US e-commerce business, any shift away from cardboard mailers toward plastic mailers might indicate a shift for the whole sector.

The corrugated box looks to be undergoing a substantial change. The first is a need for increased contact with the package itself, which is growing in popularity among customers and is in line with what they anticipate from e-commerce. Orders were sent in bright yellow delivery boxes featuring cartoon characters from the film Minions as part of a 2015 collaboration between Amazon and Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment.

On display were promotional boxes for the film, as well as a one-of-a-kind Amazon U.R.L. dedicated to shopping for film-related items. If a millennial looks at the box and envisions an Instagram moment, it’s critical to consider how we might use it to facilitate that type of experience. Amazon’s engineering team is now working on reimagining the traditional cardboard shipping box. They began using computational engineering in 2018 to analyze the stress and strains, as well as the vibration effects, on products transported across the country via moving trucks. By improving corrugate box weight, we were able to lower the overall weight of our boxes by around 9%. Additionally, we’ve decreased the size of our boxes to allow them to fit more comfortably within our clients’ homes.

As a result, our clients estimate an 18–20% reduction in the weight of recycled corrugated waste entering their house. While clothing and diapers can be transported in a flexible plastic mailer, electronics and other fragile things will benefit from the additional protection provided by a corrugated box.

Amazon’s Cardboard Box Demand Continues to Grow


Amazon’s demand for cardboard boxes remains robust despite economic hardships and competition from plastic mailers. Despite Amazon’s use of smaller boxes, none of the four firms I listed have voiced concern about Amazon demand declining; rather, they have expressed concern about Amazon demand increasing.

Amazon, we believe, should be compensated for its efforts in delivering more informed demand. With online retail sales expected to reach a trillion dollars in the United States by 2025, more than doubling what they were in 2018, the market for e-commerce packaging is expected to grow significantly over the next few years, despite Amazon’s efforts to reduce its delivery footprint in the United States. From 2017 to 2022, e-commerce packaging, which comprises corrugated and flexible packaging, is expected to expand at a 14% annual rate, reaching more than $55 billion in total.
This expansion has the potential to generate significant money for cardboard box manufacturers, and we may witness an increase in the number of boxes and plastic mailers stacking up outside people’s homes in the future.