Author Archive

Meet your new shippers: Drones and robots

Friday, February 7th, 2020

Engineers always seem to be constantly tweaking things to take costs out of the supply chain. So much of those efforts are spent on low-hanging fruit.

But exciting developments left simmering on back burners are starting to come to a rolling boil – all aimed at that ubiquitous “last mile” – the most expensive mile in all of shipping.

Thanks to miniaturization, artificial intelligence, robotics and GPS, entrepreneurs and startups are developing entire fleets of vehicles that will deliver products cheaper, faster, and carbon footprint-free. They’re poised to not only save billions in costs incurred by growing numbers of retailers competitively pressured to offer free and fast shipping but revolutionize the way products are packaged.

Most important, it may provide myriad new opportunities for corrugated packaging – the industry that provides most of the world’s last mile containers – to provide solutions in tandem with these revolutionary new vehicles.

“I think it’s a good time to be in the cardboard industry,” logistics expert Anne Goodchild told CBS Sunday Morning in a live program that aired December 15. “And I do hope that we can move to more reusable materials. The industry is still working this out.”

Goodchild was referring to the mountains of cardboard boxes that go missing every year near consumers’ front doors thanks to so-called “porch pirates,” while pointing to the ability of drones and robots to deliver packages to waiting customers on-demand, literally within minutes or hours of placing orders.

Goodchild estimated large-scale drone and robot delivery could literally save more than 50% of conventional shipping costs in that final mile.

Flirtey, a GPS-guided drone company, is poised to handle up to 75% of all deliveries in the United States, founder and CEO Matthew Sweeny told CBS. He also predicted “many” retail orders will be drone-delivered by Christmas 2020.

Kiwibots, boxy compact-sized four-wheeled robots that are currently being piloted in Berkeley, CA, bring things like restaurant orders to college students on sidewalks while dramatically cutting down traffic congestion.

In New York City, modified truck-like bicycles are being piloted by United Parcel Service as a supplemental means of getting packages to customers faster and expensively, according to a Fast Company report. The electric “pedal-assist” bikes are being tried in other cities as well, according to CBS.

Obviously, refrigerators, furniture and washing machines may never be drone-delivered, but the list of drone- – and robot-ready items is nearly endless.

Flirtey is now delivering products to organizations such as NASA, Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Remote Area Medical, New Zealand Land Search & Rescue, Domino’s and 7-Eleven. Even medical items are currently making their way via drone to consumers all over the country.

For example, large drugstore chain CVS recently reportedly became the first company to deliver a medical prescription to a North Carolina retirement community resident’s home under a program approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.

CVS officials remarked drone delivery may be a viable option particularly in rural areas, “where life-saving medications are needed and consumers at times cannot conveniently access one of our stores.”

Ongoing research

On the flip side, such trends have not gone unnoticed by government researchers. The Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, WA, for instance, is marshaling their knowledge of machine learning and artificial intelligence and apps development to solve urban freight issues.

According to MHI, the nation’s largest material handling, logistics and supply chain association, well over half (and growing) of the world’s population lives in urban areas. With e-commerce and fast delivery growing exponentially, one can only imagine the delivery chaos to come in the years ahead.

Corrbox designers are always thinking outside the box with innovative ideas for customized corrugated solutions. To discuss box configurations for drones and other delivery vehicles in the months and years to come, contact us today or call (949) 248-5880 today with your project or new idea.

Hot topics in sustainable packaging

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

Sustainability in packaging is barely in its second decade, yet a dizzying level of innovations are radically transforming the industry.

Packaging sustainability efforts address every facet – and every player – of the supply chain. Nearly every innovation takes into account each product or feature’s lifecycle, and its environmental impact and ecological footprint. Suppliers, contract packagers, and distributors are all expected to buy into the concept, as this article points out.

If you aren’t paying attention, you’re missing out on some of the hottest developments in packaging today. Consider these Top 9 Sustainable Packaging Trends – all of which revolved around the concept of a circular economy — from ThinkStep, a software firm specializing in sustainability:

  1. Design for recycling.
  2. Design for reuse.
  3. Replace plastics with bioplastics.
  4. Replace plastics with paper.
  5. Reduce and remove packaging.
  6. Shift to mono-materials.
  7. Increase recycled content.
  8. Try new out-of-the-box ideas such as changing the form of packaging, completely enhancing stackability, and emptiability.
  9. Customer is key.

Here are some additional nuggets from around the world of sustainable packaging:

  • Mega-retailer Wal-Mart has shortened the original list of the “7 Rs” of sustainable packaging, according to Packaging Digest magazine to reduce, reuse and recycle, “but also added a new term, rethink, to encourage companies to always remember to consider smarter sustainable options. The tide turned when the so-called “Garbage Barge” shined a light on the problem of packaging waste. “Sustainable packaging is no longer focused on just recycling,” the article asserts. “Just as packaging is not the only eco target, although it is still top of mind for many.” The magazine itself notes that sustainable packaging is the hottest topic so far this year with readers.
  • Coca-Cola European Partners is switching the carriers on its multipacks from shrink wrap to paperboard to reduce packaging waste. The organization estimates this change in its beverage packaging will remove about 4,000 metric tons of single-use plastic per year from its current supply chain.
  • TC Transcontinental Packaging is accelerating development of recyclable and compostable flexible packaging. The company helps brands rewrite their flexible packaging story using recyclable and compostable materials.
  • Plant-based packaging is taking off. One example: Family-owned Coconut Bliss of Eugene, OR, has artfully and sustainably redesigned the packaging from the inside out for all its cupped frozen desserts by using plant-based bio resin polyethylene made from sugarcane husks that’s an environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional petroleum-based PE resin.

Innovative packaging techniques are invaluable marketing opportunities, says branding expert

Wednesday, July 10th, 2019

Our e-newsletters have often explored the importance of innovative packaging solutions, and the value of smart designs in promoting your company’s unique brand.

Do you still need convincing?

To Ted Church, principal, founder and branding specialist of Boulder, CO-based Anthem Branding, packaging and branding are not only essential marketing, but can go far in elevating your company’s image.

“In a world that revolves around brands, it’s important to determine how your business will stand out,” Church writes in a recent blog. In fact, Church asserts packaging and branding help build a concise brand personality, and attract and retain customers long-term. He offers an example set by skincare/cosmetics giant Glossier, which transcends the usual “bubble wrap and cardboard” by packaging its products like gifts.

Our recent newsletters show how some companies are successfully using high impact graphics and custom-sized boxes to serve multiple purposes. One example is the set-up box, also called “subscription” boxes, many of which are corrugated containers used to ship specialty items like pet food samples on a monthly basis. Big box retailers often rely on companies to provide large dual-purpose boxes – first serving as a shipping container for large quantities of their product while later allowing a means to dispense individual units directly to consumers. This provides additional opportunities to display features and benefits to consumers while minimizing stocking time for workers.

Such innovations first serve to make a stunning and lasting visual impression of a company’s brand in a consumer’s mind, said Church.

Second, innovative packaging are opportunities that should never be ignored, and provide an unmistakable chance to “wow” your customer,” he said, noting how additional things like “thank you” cards can leave lasting impressions.

At Corrbox, our design and sample rooms have large-scale capability to develop an integrated packaging system to protect your product completely during shipping, and design it in a way that also maximizes your product’s marketing exposure. There are countless examples here at CorrBox of clever designs that serve highly practical purposes while reinforcing your company’s logo and corporate branding.

Contact us today at for more information at (949) 248-5880 or drop us a note at

What good is ‘green packaging’ if your products arrive damaged?

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

As we noted in our newsletter a few issues back, corrugated cardboard is looking greener every day, bolstered by news like that from the Corrugated Packaging Alliance, whose recent industry life cycle assessment study uncovered significant per unit reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, due in large part to increased recycling efforts.

Still, there’s a not-so-silver lining behind otherwise positive news like this.

In their zeal to meet customer demands for more “earth friendly” packaging, many companies may be missing the bigger picture of an even more costly waste from goods damaged in transit.

In summarizing his recent webinar, Dan Healey, director of sustainability for Charlotte, NC-based Sealed Air, reveals “the significant carbon impact of damaged goods in the modern e-commerce supply chain and how retailers can measure the effect that damage is having on sustainability goals and the bottom line.”

As Healey showed in his recent webinar, manufacturing and disposing of the actual packaging materials represents a mere 5% of the total environmental impact of shipping. When products are damaged and disposed of, the environmental impact skyrockets to almost half the total environmental cost of shipping (48%).

While sustainability issues are important, working more diligently at preventing damage should go far in lowering a company’s carbon footprint. And companies would do well to educate consumers about “why certain packaging materials are chosen over others,” said Healey, whose company invented Bubble Wrap® more than 60 years ago. “The true sustainability impact doesn’t come from whether or not it’s made of recycled material or if it can be recycled curbside, it lies in the ability to eliminate the risk of damage and eliminate the risk of that item doubling, tripling or even quadrupling its environmental footprint.”

In the end, Healey said companies should not view their sustainability objectives and damage prevention separately.

“We can’t recycle our way out,” Healey added in his webinar recap. “Making products more recyclable is a big step, but we also have to make sure those products take less energy to produce, fewer trucks to haul and reduced fuel to transport.”

CorrBox can help your company ship and protect your products with a host of innovative packaging solutions. Contact us today at for more information at (949) 248-5880 or drop us a note at

Cardboard in the news

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

Our latest installment of news snippets about the world’s most versatile and affordable packaging material….

Stiff Chinese tariff hikes hit OCC

Just weeks after corrugated packaging and recycling industry groups mulled recommendations for increasing residential recovery of old corrugated containers (OCC), China in early August announced it will impose a 25 percent tariff on OCC and other recovered fiber in retaliation of the latest U.S. tariffs. The tariffs were set to go into effect August 23. According to, the U.S. exported nearly $6 billion worth of scrap commodities to China last year. But exports already were headed south to the tune of a 24% drop since 2017, the website reported.

Plastics getting a black eye again

Scores of businesses on the West Coast have recently announced plans to stop providing customers with and otherwise stop selling plastic straws. Seattle and San Francisco, in particular, along with high-profile restaurants like Starbucks, Aramark and American Airlines have led the campaign. But many experts say straws are merely a drop in the ocean of bigger waste issues beginning to catch the attention of environmentalists, according to Fewer than 9% of all plastics are even recycled, forcing society’s collective eye toward this otherwise pretty durable packaging material. Companies are now looking even more at eco-friendly alternatives to plastic. Demand for corrugated cardboard packaging here and in Europe is expected to increase more than 4% in the coming year, according to industry reports.


Even with mixed news like this, it’s an indisputable fact that brown corrugated cardboard is looking greener every day. It wasn’t that long ago that a Corrugated Packaging Alliance report highlighted the continued positive news about corrugated’s sustainability. Among the CPA’s corrugated industry life cycle assessment study findings: Significant per unit reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, due in large part to increased OCC recycling efforts.

Got cardboard? Artists hobbyists limited only by their imaginations

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

The versatility of corrugated cardboard continues to astound. And it shows how blithely we all toss cardboard into the recycling bin, or worse, a trash can, without imagining how amazing this material really is.

To the novice, this popular packaging material is simply stiff, brown, heavy paper most well-suited as a shipping container, file box or book cover.

But consider the following …


Much like origamists of old, artists are now using both the liner and flute components to craft amazing sculptures, as reported by the website Upcyclist, a self-described “place where artistry meets sustainability.” Among those profiled: a New York artist who fashions incredibly lifelike and anatomically accurate sculptures of townsfolk from a Chinese village his ancestors called home; a British artist who recreates scenes inspired by the Bible and classical mythology; or a Parisiam painter and illustrator who recreates scenes from everyday life out of near microscopic shreds of corrugated – all positioned inside cardboard toilet paper rolls.


Pinterest is a veritable goldmine chronically literally thousands of things people all over the world have repurposed cardboard with – from puppet theaters, Matchbox® car tracks, playhouses and obstacle courses to nearly endless kinds of home office organization ideas.


Musicians have also discovered the remarkable sound dampening qualities of corrugated. Specially designed 7-foot-tall soundproof cardboard boxes are being used as personal recording studios, home office refuge, private “jam” spaces, and more recently, just a place to escape and vent, as in screaming, according to the website Gizmodo. The site reports that a cardboard honeycomb inner layer can dampen sounds by as much as 30 decibels. The boxes sell for about $1,500.


Many places across the country now host racing events whose enthusiasts fashion boats out of cardboard. As the Post-Star in Glen Falls, NY, recently reported, an annual cardboard boat race along the Hudson River features nautical human-powered creations fashioned out of carboard and other recycled materials. Across the continent in southern California, the annual Annenberg Community Beach House’s annual Cardboard Yacht Regatta draws big crowds, reports KNBC, Los Angeles. No word yet how long the boats remain seaworthy.

Is the artist in you screaming to be heard? Corrbox makes lots of creations out of this incredibly versatile material. Brainstorm your ideas today with our design staff to bring your artistic visions to life. Call (877) 267-7269.

Oil’s effect on polybag pricing; Occasional volatility, but mostly stable

Friday, June 8th, 2018

Some of you may have noticed recently that polybag pricing has been a bit up and down.

As a packaging company, we pride ourselves in offering a large variety of these very versatile and widely used products. Some are heat-sealed, while others are “stitched” or adhesive bonded. Some incorporate zip closures while others are self-sealing. Some have handles. Any can be customized with logos, messages, warnings, etc.

As you know, the price you pay for finished goods is most profoundly affected by the cost of the raw materials used in their manufacture. With plastics, the resins used in polybag production are petroleum-based polypropylene, and as such are tied closely to crude oil prices. Most finished goods pricing remains stable when there is a minor blip here and there in oil. Enough of a rise or fall typically results in slightly higher or lower finished goods prices.

As one apparel manufacturer notes on its website, costing out polybags isn’t always a cut-and-dried exercise. Factors such as quantity, styles, sealing and customization all factor into the price of the finished good.

Raw material volatility is a normal occurrence in any industry. For example, in the first month of 2017 alone, prices for polypropylene jumped about 10 cents a pound, according to industry reports. The three months before, polypropylene prices had fallen by almost the same amount.

As of April 2018, prices are very favorable for buyers and industry sources expect them to remain fairly stable the remainder of this year.

To discuss pricing, contact your Corrbox representative today at (877) 267-7269.

That muscular packaging miracle called corrugated

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

How is it that something as lightweight as paper can safely act as a receptacle for something more than 500 times its own weight?

How is it that something made to ship a small printer ink cartridge from Amazon be the very same thing suitable to live and die in? After all, tiny houses and coffins have been made of it.

The corrugated box is, in large part, an engineering marvel. Its strength originates from the pulp of nature’s giants – trees – and the small tube-like material call flute, which not only provides stability and strength, but a sophisticated shock absorber sandwiched between pieces of wafer-thin fiberboard.

Even after it’s tossed and dropped, punched and stepped on, stacked and stored diagonally, it still manages to somehow protect its contents as it travels from maker to factory to truck, rail and air, and on to its destination – across town and country and world. It can withstand well over 126 pounds per square inch, yet cut easily with a small knife. Ninety five percent of its square area is thin air.

It’s far more than just paper and glue.

The site, How Stuff Works, describes corrugated’s “truss”– its flute innards and fiberboard skin – this way: “a series of paper I-beams lying next to each other,” not unlike the skeletal structure of an iron bridge.

Corrbox provides myriad sizes and certified strengths of corrugated to meet every conceivable need. Contact us today or call (949) 248-5880.

Think ‘outside the [corrugated] box’

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

Remember the days of childhood, when a chance nab of a large empty furniture or appliance box became a playhouse, a castle, or a pretend car? Or when we stacked lots of big boxes of various sizes to make different rooms? Some of you may even remember a company designing a Gemini space capsule out of cardboard for millions of American kids wowed by a fledgling space program called NASA.

Corrugated’s long-heralded qualities of durability and strength make it an extremely popular and smart choice for shipping and storage.

But scores of “thinking outside the box” entrepreneurs have begun exploiting this versatile material for thousands of applications, many of them incredibly creative and utilitarian – and profitable.

Check out websites like Pinterest and LifeHack, which are rife with amazing ways people are putting corrugated to inventive uses. Its applications in works of art are eye-popping and nearly endless. One artist is even recreating art masterpiece paintings out of corrugated cardboard. Want more?

  • Fashioning recycled corrugated into earth-friendly packaging for anything from gift boxes and consumables like fresh cookies.
  • Toys like sailboats, playhouses, musical instruments like drums and guitars. Even apparel!
  • Furnishings. The level of innovation in this area is staggering – everything from lamp shades, picture frames and shadow boxes, chairs and shelving to complete bedrooms. The American Institute of Architecture Students and the International Corrugated Packaging Foundation has actually hosted a corrugated board chair design competition.
  • Toilets and coffins. Yes, Japanese entrepreneurs have created completely functioning ones.
  • Weed barriers and forms for building raised gardens and compost.
  • Cardboard has been used for temporary housing in disasters. Some clever folks are actually designing bridges and small modular cardboard homes said to stand the test of time for 100 years or more, according to TreeHugger.

Corrbox designers are always thinking outside the box with innovative ideas for customized corrugated. Contact us today or call (949) 248-5880 today with your project or new idea.

A case of expensive “air”

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

Vast amounts of money are wasted each year shipping air in corrugated boxes. Even two years after major commercial shippers implemented game-changing “dimensional weight pricing” across the board, many companies still inexplicably ship products in oversized boxes.

What? You say? Most consumers, particularly those not in the freight or e-commerce business, likely have never heard of dimensional weight pricing, but they probably are starting to notice the boxes coming from Amazon and other online merchants filled with less “packing material.” That’s because many of the items they’re buying online are close to the size of the container they’re shipped in.

For those who may not fully understand dimensional weight pricing, it’s basically this: Before dimensional weight pricing, you could ship a brick in a microwave-sized box and another in a brick-shaped box for basically the same price. That’s because freight costs were mostly calculated on weight, not size.

Put another way, “dimensional weight is a pricing technique used by the transportation industry that measures the amount of space a package occupies compared to the actual weight to determine billable weight,” according to National Fulfillment Services (NFS).

UPS representatives told Small Business Trends that U.S. DIM weights are essentially calculated by multiplying the container’s length by height by width and dividing by 166 if the result is greater than 5,184. The billable weight would then be the greater of the DIM weight or the box and its content’s actual scale weight, according to Small Business Trends.

The reasons for the change weren’t as simple as most thought. Some said the freight industry did it to cut down on fuel costs, which doesn’t entirely make sense because DIM pricing would lead to more products of identical weight in each truckload. Others held DIM made shipping more efficient, which is indisputable.

While retailers and wholesalers didn’t embrace the new pricing methodology at first, it didn’t take long for most to understand how wasteful prior practices were. Yet today, many companies still are paying good money to ship air, as well as the additional weight for things like the air pillows and foam pellets used to fill the void inside corrugated boxes and other containers. It adds up. Big time.

Dealing with DIM

There are several steps you can take.

National Fulfillment Services offers a few tips, including consolidating your shipments with carriers to leverage the greater volume and gain better pricing. Regional providers or consolidators are another option, according to NFS.

Most importantly, implement right-sized packaging. Yes, there’s always a need for padding materials, but choose boxes that most closely resemble the dimensions of the content you’re shipping. The best solution is custom packaging, which virtually eliminates costly dead space (air).