We are experiencing a worldwide shortage of cardboard due to several factors. That’s why the king of packaging is turning into the new gold.

Whether you are a packaging insider or not, you will know that we are currently facing a worldwide shortage of cardboard. As widely documented by the international press, finding flat and corrugated cardboard is becoming a challenge.

Cardboard packaging is so in demand, that it has recently become the new beige gold. But what is the cause for this worldwide shortage of cardboard?

1. The eCommerce boom

The pandemic has accelerated online purchases. As a matter of fact, the quantity of shipped goods has exceeded the previously estimated volumes by 5 times. Moreover, according to recent studies the gradual loosening of containment measures is not leading to a return to past habits. eCommerce has boomed and it’s here to stay. We cannot therefore afford to perpetuate the current shortage of cardboard, unless we want to curb global sales.

2. Supply problems

Some of the most important paper mills in Europe have had to slow down production to comply with social distancing with reduced staff. This means decreased supplies. Furthermore, in the United Kingdom this scenario added on to the more general labor crisis and barriers to import / export after the Brexit.

3. Recycling and its phases

One of the most appreciated aspects of cardboard packaging is recyclability. Corrugated cardboard contains about 80% of recycled raw materials. Furthermore, it can be reused up to 7 times before fibers permanently deplete. 

Unfortunately, during the lockdown there were delays in the reintroduction of cardboard into the production cycle. Offices, bars and restaurants, normally the largest and fastest producers of recyclable waste closed for a long time. Even the collection of household waste suffered from the lack of staffing. 

Because of these factors combined, the global shortage of cardboard was inevitable.

Three ways to work around the cardboard shortage

  1. Align with suppliers – Share purchase forecasts with them in a timely manner. It is also a good idea to consider ordering in advance so that you are more comfortable without creating excess inventory.
  2. Prefer customized solutions – Packaging the product into custom-sized boxes helps enhance the whole production cycle. This means avoiding waste of precious raw materials.
  3. Avoid alternative packaging – Given the current situation, some may switch to less environmentally friendly packaging alternatives such as plastic. The short-term benefit, however, would be offset by the long-term negative consequences for the brand.

Ideas for the future

Although cardboard shortage is a major obstacle, it has also proved to be an opportunity. A general rethinking of packaging design and more accurate consumption planning help optimize the use of materials. This is a benefit both for the sustainability of the packaging industry and for the planet’s resources.

Giuseppe Prioriello, CEO of Packly, commented on this issue: “Packly makes sustainability a key concept, as software, as printed product and as production optimization. Everything follows the path of rethinking packaging design to reducing or zeroing the impact on the environment. The purchasing process takes place online, the materials are only 100% recyclable cardboards and corrugated, on-demand orders and customized sizes to avoid overpacking. We at Packly have managed to minimize the negative consequences of the lack of cardboard. In fact, we have stocked sufficient quantities to meet customer requirements. Moreover, thanks to the possibility of ordering small quantities instead of forcing large runs, we are able to avoid waste“.

For further information, check out Packly guidelines on sustainability

Your custom solution to the lack of cardboard

In short: if cardboard packaging is a key part of your production, think ahead. With Packly you can create custom prototypes and plan orders with flexible delivery times and no mandatory minimum quantities.