Tis the season to recycle

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If you hadn’t noticed already, Christmas is almost upon us, and with it the annual rush to buy enough food, drink and, of course, presents to get us through the season. But like many other things this year, the festive tradition of elbowing your way through department stores and edging through traffic has changed. Now you’re much more likely to spend the run-up to Christmas looking at a screen, scrolling through pages of potential presents before firing off your order and keeping an eye out for the delivery van.

While bricks and mortar stores and retailers without a significant digital presence may be feeling the squeeze, there is one sector that’s enjoying the current boom in online shopping: packaging. In particular, cardboard and paper packaging.

$51 billion and counting

According to a recent report by Smithers Pira, e-commerce packaging is going through the roof. In 2020, the global consumption of packaging from online stores has been over 40% higher than in 2019. While last year the market was worth $33.7 billion, this year it’s rocketed to $51.7 billion – an increase of over $14 billion.

The most valuable segment of this packaging figure is corrugated cardboard, which has a value of $41.6 billion in 2020 – up from $30 billion in 2019 – making ecommerce one of the most important markets for packaging companies and their suppliers. And it’s not going to stop there – the report estimates that by 2025, the market will be worth an eye-watering $113.5 billion.

The consumers’ choice

Alongside the convenience of online shopping and home delivery, one of the key reasons for the success of cardboard is the sustainability of the raw material and consumer preference for environmentally friendly packaging. A new study by Smurfit Kappa found that consumers are now demanding more sustainable packaging from fashion brands when making online purchases.

The study, which spoke to consumers in Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands and the UK, found that 41% of online fashion shoppers have become more eco-conscious when making purchase decisions since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, with 35% stating that they wouldn’t buy from a certain brand if they discovered the packaging wasn’t sustainable.

Two Sides’ own global packaging survey backs this up: 62% of respondents said that paper/cardboard was the best for the environment, with 57% saying that paper/cardboard was the easiest material to recycle. In short, people prefer their packaging to be cardboard and paper, with the top reason being sustainability.

That’s a wrap

The in-built circularity of the success of cardboard packaging is the very thing that makes it successful. With the average cardboard box comprising 50% recycled material, with some going all the way to 100%, ensuring a consistent loop of use, recycle and reuse is vital for the cardboard packaging industry to flourish. And with the rapid increase in online shopping, there should be no shortage of cardboard in the system.

So this Christmas season, as the deliveries keep coming and the parcels pile up, take a moment to marvel at the humble cardboard box. And then recycle it.

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