The Ecommerce Cardboard Deluge: How to Deal with It?

With the rise of Ecommerce giants like Amazon, eBay and Ali Express etc. as well as the other ecommerce companies, we have entered into an era that will spread more cardboard mess than the plastic mess that we complain about.

It is not that the cardboard boxes sent out by these companies do not have any plastic garbage at all; as a matter of fact, most of them, if not all, have plastic pouches, bubble wraps and other plastic packaging essentials, but plastic garbage is not something new for this planet.

As happy as we should be about getting rid of hazardous plastic packaging and about getting into using wood-pulp based biodegradable packaging, it is still a mess and recycling the volumes of cardboard that USA and China, as well as other countries, are dealing with, is a big nightmare.

This is what this blog post is all about. Let us have a look at some facts and figures about this cardboard mess and how we can deal with this deluge.

1.  The Volume of Cardboard Mess and Why We Have It

So back in 1970s, the world of business decided to make a move from paper bag to plastic bag. This move was made because, although the paper bag was 100% biodegradable, ecofriendly and recyclable, it was still expensive and the plastic shopping bag was so cheap that there seemed to be no reason to stick to paper bags.

And then it was a deluge of plastic. Shopping bags, bottles, boxes and what not! If you simply have a look at the items that you have at home and the packaging of those items, beverage for example, you will see how dominant the plastic is.

So, later and not the sooner, the world realized the damage of plastic and not that it has fully rejected or prohibited the use of plastic at industrial level, it is now moving fast to more recyclable, simpler, cleaner and more biodegradable packaging options such as cardboard and paper bags.


This choice definitely shows the future belongs to more ecofriendly and biodegradable packaging options such as display cardboard boxesthat actually look much better than any plastic packaging, but the mess and the size of recyclable cardboard has become a new issue.

In China alone, more than 40 billion cardboard boxes were shipped only in the last year. As far as USA is concerned, only in 2014 it had 35.4 million tons of containerboard mess and it was generated only for the daily shipping of ecommerce. This means that the cardboard mess generated by packaging companies that serve other business models e.g. FMCG is not included in this number.

2.  How to Deal with Cardboard Deluge?

So, how to deal with the cardboard mess that we are gathering around us every day? As per the stats of Recology, a San Francisco based recycling business, they get more than 100 tons of cardboard at their recycling plant every day.

Well, here are the ways how you can recycle the cardboard mess and manage this deluge.

  • Chinese Government has already taken some steps and now they are going to bind the ecommerce companies to have the biodegradable outer layer and reduce the mass of plastic and similar packaging items used inside the cardboard boxes to protect the products. While this will only have an impact on plastic mess, we can say that in future there will be some more regulations that will help us curb the volume of cardboard packaging.
  • Purpose-built cardboard recycling plants is another possible solutions with which we can deal faster with only and only cardboard volumes and recycle them fast to use the same volume again.
  • Creating a balance between cardboard and paper bag packaging can be another solution. It is not a mess if we divide the packaging load equally or proportionately into cardboard, Kraft and paper bag solutions.

However, these few advices can only have limited impact; perhaps it is the time for us to look forward to more sustainable packaging solutions.