Cardboard ship Boxes in Michigan

The Mystery of the $6 Cardboard Box

September 6, 2013 – 11:34

Bullfrog Metamorphosis: Development of Tadpoles into Frogs

As we started packing for our return to Michigan after nearly a year in New York City, we realized that we needed more boxes.

To make loading our truck easier, we wanted boxes that were the same size as the ones we already had -- 1.5 cubic feet and, at 12 by 12 by 18 inches, easily carried by one person, even when loaded with books.

In our Manhattan neighborhood, the local UPS Store was selling them at a Manhattan price -- $6.00 each -- but by the time I got there, the store had run out. Then I discovered, to my surprise, a Home Depot on the very same block that sold nearly the same-size box for 67 cents.

Of course, I bought a bunch. But I wondered whether anything differentiated the boxes besides price.

Eventually, I got my answer, plus a few tips on where a household that is moving should buy boxes. Along the way, I also learned a few things about corrugated fiberboard boxes, including these two central facts: They are the invisible handmaidens to home building and virtually every other U.S. industry and one of the greenest mass-produced materials in the country.

Nearly everything we consume is shipped in a corrugated box. If an item is made of assembled parts -- for example, a refrigerator -- all those parts are shipped to the assembly plant in several corrugated boxes. The finished refrigerator is then shipped to its final destination in a much larger corrugated box.

Miracles of engineering, the boxes have an amazing strength-to-weight ratio. The 1.5-cubic-foot boxes I used weigh less than a pound each but can hold contents weighing as much as 65 pounds. Box strength can easily be increased by adding more layers of kraft paper with corrugated, or "fluted, " cores. A five-layer box can hold as much as 15, 000 pounds, said Michelle Duket, a box designer with Georgia-Pacific.

This low weight-to-strength ratio makes the boxes the most economical choice for shipping almost anything. The cost to ship the box itself is negligible compared with the cost of shipping the contents.

Boxes can be made with amazing speed. I visited a Georgia-Pacific box plant in Milan, Mich., that makes about 900, 000 corrugated boxes a day. Overall, boxmakers in the United States churn out about 250 million boxes a day, according to Dave Carlson, a material and technical specialist with the Fibre Box Association.

Although all the boxes look the same, each one is designed and custom-made according to the needs of the purchaser. If the contents are heavy -- for example, liquid laundry detergent -- the box will be stronger than one designed to hold paper towels, Carlson said.

Corrugated boxes loom large in the home building industry. Aside from the wood framing and foundation walls, almost everything else that is needed to build a house is shipped to the site in a corrugated box. Indeed, one of the largest sources of waste in home building is packing materials.

For its part, the corrugated fiberboard box industry happens to have one of America's highest recycling rates. About 78 percent of the annual production is recycled; of this, about 60 percent is used to make new boxes. The industry has been recycling for more than 80 years.

The wood fibers in the brown kraft paper used to make the boxes can be recycled five to seven times. After this, they become too short to be reused and are cast off during the manufacturing process. These cast-off fibers now end up as sludge in a landfill, but researchers are testing the feasibility of converting the sludge to boiler fuel pellets that could be used to power the manufacturing process, said Carlson, who has worked in the industry for 45 years.


I ship art all the time

In my earlier day i did juried shows like you speak of, but now i ship whole shows to other states and it's a major expense. it's like gambling really. if they don't sell, you have lost the shipping money. usually the gallery pays the return (once and a blue moon they will pay both ways if they love you like crazy).
i used to pack everything myself. i'd make the boxes from large double cardboard sheets i'd order at cost, bubble wrap it all and ship UPS insured. i thought THAT was expensive. after many years of that back breaking work, i started to use a professional art shipping company that picked up my work and did it all for me - and did custom crating and sent it freight

Prints Prints Prints Photo Jigsaw Puzzle of Hong Kong, China from Prints Prints Prints
Toy (Prints Prints Prints)
  • PHOTO JIGSAW PUZZLE This Photo Puzzle features an image of Hong Kong, China chosen by Prints Prints Prints. Estimated image size 356x254mm.
  • 10x14 Photo Puzzle with 252 pieces. Packed in black cardboard box of dimensions 5 5/8 x 7 5/8 x 1 1/5. Puzzle image 5x7 affixed to box top. Puzzle pieces printed...
  • Image Description Hong Kong, China KMTC Line container ship the KMTC Jakarta in Hong Kong, China.
  • For any queries regarding this image of Hong Kong, China please contact Prints Prints Prints quoting Reference 4254182
  • Image of Hong Kong, China is supplied by Prints Prints Prints. andcopy; Paul Brown

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