Welcome to the Age of Corrugated. And you thought it was just a brown box.
Could it be that we’re living in the Golden Age of corrugated paper? Think about it. Corrugated boxes are used more today than at any other time in their 164-year history thanks to digital technology that allows companies to ship directly to businesses and homes. And, as we continue to follow social distancing guidelines, they help power the e-commerce engine that provides almost anything we need.
But, the simple fluted material delivers strength and creativity for much more than shipping boxes. Need a place to sit? Architect Frank Gehry discovered that single sheets of cardboard gained strength when worked into many layers. This led to the creation of his iconic Wiggle Side Chair designed, with little money, for a meeting of NASA artists and scientists. “I discovered,” he told a reporter at the time, “that by alternating the direction of layers of corrugations, the finished board had enough strength to support a small car, and a uniform, velvety texture on all four sides. I found I could cut these edge board sections into geometrical forms, or bend them into sculptural, ribbon-candy folds.”
Today, corrugated cardboard is filling large scale needs routinely. Need 18,000 temporary beds to provide rest for Olympic athletes? Make them from corrugated paper strong enough to hold a world champion and recyclable when the torch is extinguished. Competitors will be sleeping on corrugated cardboard beds next summer when the rescheduled 2020 Summer Olympic games take place in Tokyo. According to the general manager of Athletes Village in Tokyo, the cardboard bedframes are stronger than wooden ones and can comfortably support athletes up to 400 pounds. They get their strength from several layers of wavy “flutes” of paper to support athletes of all weights and sizes.
Right now, you’ll even see corrugated in the stands at Taiwan baseball games. With no fans in attendance amid the coronavirus pandemic, fake fans made from cardboard cutouts fill the stadium to ease player’s minds and loneliness – now that’s an innovative and fun use of corrugated!
And what about corrugated for school? To help students during the shift to online and home-based learning this year, we (the Paper & Packaging – How Life Unfolds® campaign) partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of Harlem and Food Bank For New York City to provide 200 corrugated desks to families in need. Designed by GoKarton, the sturdy corrugated desks provide an effective and sustainable solution for these NYC students who likely lack a dedicated workspace at home while public schools are closed.
We also know that consumers are more likely to buy brands that use paper or cardboard packaging instead of other materials (Ipsos). On the How Life Unfolds website, social media and digital channels, look for our #PoweredbyPackaging series meant to inspire business-decision makers to choose paper packaging to take advantage of the many unexpected ways this natural material helps empower their businesses and unbox delight.
If this isn’t already the Golden Age of corrugated paper, then it’s just around the corner. There just aren’t many materials as practical and adaptable as corrugated paper, and none quite as recyclable, while also continuing to provide limitless solutions “outside the box.”