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Green Compost Bins for Organic Waste

 
Stand-alone homes and some apartment buildings have had these compost bins for a while. What has recently changed is an effort to separate trash at home – before it even hits the larger bins in the backyard. One such effort was initiated by the City of Vancouver where residents were handed out two 2-gallon green bins targeted at collecting a certain number of items.

These are food scraps including meats and bones, used coffee grinds, tea bags even oily paper is ok to go find its new home in the new compost bins. Items  which must remain outside of the green bins are any an all sorts of plastic, metal twist ties, diapers even the recyclable and compostable plastics (these are typically items with resin code 7 – the number in-between the three arrows for recycling) are to be kept separately and be mixed with the other commingled plastic.

The green bin initiative gas a direct economical implication – garbage trucks which pick up regular trash would run every other week as opposed to weekly. The compost collection trucks would still honor their old schedule and run once a week so no changes there. As a reminder, the compost bins/dumpsters are the spot where cut up grass and leaves go. These will also be the new digs for your household organic waste which will first go into the smaller green bucket.

As the city does not want any plastic in the new organics receptacles, the easiest way to keep trash neat is by covering up the inside of the bin with a paper bag. I made a short video on how to get one folded out of newspaper. It really takes about five minutes and no tools or prior origami experience is required. See video below:

Green bin for organics

 

Newer Ways to Save Paper

One major source of revenue for hotels and other hospitality businesses is conference trips and corporate events. Such occasional functions can attract thousands of participants and the environmental impact from printing pages and pages of information plus context directions and help signs can be huge. What is more, such paper is often misplaced or intentionally discarded due to bulkiness, weight etc. which leaves plenty of room for improvement and optimization.

The answer again lies in technology. While paper pulp mills would still be around to manufacture large cardboard boxes, there is an alternative approach to conference trips and business travel which could save trees and avoid the hassle of paper-making.

A relevant study shows that participants to a recent conference of close to 200, instead of the usual welcome packages, were lent out tablet computers. The devices had preconfigured network settings so accessing the internet and other convention-related resources was easy. Additionally, attendees no longer had to fill out countless paper forms which then manually needed to be entered into a booking etc. system. All forms were electronic and actual convenience was added to the evident coolness of portable touchscreen devices. The estimated amount of paper saved from that convention alone was close to ten thousand pages. To put this in perspective, this is really twenty printer packs of paper plus a great bit of ink. Most printers would go four to five thousand pages per toner when new. You can do the math – the savings are considerable. What is more, all participants’ contact information is securely stored in one central location which makes sharing an extremely positive experience. Naturally, none of the saved paper hit the recycle bins since information remained electronic. Also, no large shipping boxes had to be transported back and forth either.

Such deliberate effort towards reduce, reuse and recycle helps corporations more than they can see at first glance – it helps them build up employee morale and convince major stakeholders that effort is actually being made as opposed to just having a paper version of sustainable environment strategy.

 

 

 

Importance of Packing Tape when Preparing Shipments

It is well known that even the strongest and the largest shipping boxes will not hold if they are not properly sealed with packing tape. Moving boxes could be OK with just their designed closing. Traditionally shipping boxes are of the regular slotted container type of cardboard boxes. This means that the free flaps of the box closure are on top and bottom, they are of equal size and once closed, they meet in the middle of the box – this is where packing tape comes in to complete a parcel. Packing tape has unique qualities in a sense that it can be generously applied and allows for corrugated shipping containers to slide freely across conveyors and delivery truck bodies. It can also be used as an advertisement tool and carry along its length commercial messaging, phone numbers and website addresses.

Packing tape used on shipping boxes is typically brown, clear or grayish in color. Custom packing tape could be of any color and pattern. Other types of tape should not be used regardless of how popular or trustworthy they may seem. Duct tape is a perfect example and a repeat offender here. Electrical, masking, frog and office tape are all designed to serve a different purpose – they often lack the strength or resilience needed to get the job done and secure shipments protecting their contents from spills and damages. Filament tape is made with extra strength in mind – it contains small shavings of plastic which reinforce the material and is meant to handle heavier than traditional loads. In cases where tiles, metal etc. or polymer or wooden trunks have to be shipped, plastic straps would be the safest choice. They would almost never break and are made with heavy weight and rough surfaces in mind bound by metal connectors.

When applying packing tape onto the surface of a shipping box, be prepared to have enough to go around all seams and edges of a box. Also apply just enough tape and keep in mind that a box would most likely have to be open at the receiving end so do not make a customer feel like they are opening a thermoform packaging or a clamshell blister pack where power tools become needed. Over-packaging could cause frustration and damages when clients get to bigger and sharper tools in their effort to crack the packaging. Goods and items on the inside of large and small cardboard boxes could sustain damages in the process.

Here is the full listing of all styles of packing tape including less popular names such as filament and j-lar tape.

How to Ship Large Trunks and Chests

During a recent conference a company had to ship some computer equipment which was built into a kiosk with a larger display. It is used for demonstration purposes where users can play with it at the conference booth in the expo and get hands-on product experience. This is a good example of an item which is bulky, fragile, awkward to carry and plain oversized. The kiosk gets disassembled and then the various pieces are individually wrapped and secured into shipping boxes. Once all items are ready to travel, they are placed inside a shipping container which is custom built for this unusual computer kiosk and has all needed internal compartments to allow for safer transportation. The size of the shipping chest is roughly about eight feet long and about four feet in the other two dimensions.

While a shipping trunk with the above dimensions will easily fit in a pickup truck or a delivery vehicle of almost any style, it is past the limits of commercial shipping carriers. In other words, calling UPS for a pickup would not work here and other arrangements have to be made via a freight company. This raises two issues – price and time to travel. Since this is going to an industry expo, delivering past the scheduled date would be counterproductive and hardly deliver the needed public feedback. When shipping past national borders, it becomes even more complex due to customs declarations and shipping manifests etc. Shipping transcontinental would add an additional shipping cost and time to travel. Freight companies are the ones who handle such unusual shipments and have established workflows of how items travel across states and national borders.

A word of caution is needed – most similar shipping containers are made of wood or plastic. This material is very sturdy and designed to handle heavier products however it does little in terms of cushioning and protection of the items inside. Unlike the corrugated flutes inside walls of cardboard boxes, wood and plastic polymers will only take care of safety and impact from the outside – no internal suspension is provided or implied. Custom foam insulation, polystyrene shipping peanuts and industrial rated bubble wrap would help minimize the effects of the cargo while en route. Clear shipping labels and easy-to-use locking mechanisms must make it evident for customs employees what is inside the box. They have the right to look into all shipping boxes so placing a fancy lock would only make it harder for them and could cause unintended product damages for which they will not be held responsible.

Wooden shipping boxes
Heavy-duty shipping boxes

Recycled Paper and Waste Management

Used corrugated shipping boxes seem to have an incredible amount of applications and appearances in their afterlife under new shapes, styles and even colors. The latter is the most challenging – as boxes and paper age and are recycled, the amount of dirt, adhesive, ink traces and other contaminants in the recycled pulp increases and paper quality deteriorates. This can be amended in a few ways, mainly by adding bleach or other environmentally friendly bleaching agents to improve printing. Nevertheless, recycled cardboard is a popular and solid common material for the manufacturing of a number of items.

The envelope pictured below is a perfect specimen of pure recycling at its best. The A1 shape is according to ISO 216 where A4 is the typical legal size letter almost identical to the almighty 8.5×11 inches used in the US. This recycled envelope was used to ship a book purchased online and did the job in an excellent fashion. The book was small and light so this was a perfect example of a load well matched up with its shipping container – in this case the corrugated envelope.

Another famous coffee shop chain retailer also appears to be aligned right with recent environmental trends. They use napkins made of recycled paper. The unique approach here is that the napkins themselves (pictured) are calling for a more consistent and reasonable use in order to save trees and ultimately the planet. While before such slogans seemed like pure hypocrisy and a bad taste of corporate marketing, this has now almost become mainstream. Senior management of these companies have actually seen environmental damages and really have come to terms with our surroundings. What is more, manufacturing processes have been cleaned up and loose ends filled to ensure almost uninterruptable and waste-less production cycles as related to wood chips and crops used for papermaking for example. A similar approach is taken by companies in the particleboard industry who actually utilize saw dust and spruce chips to make their product and feed their own production leftovers right back into their conveyor belt lines. This to a large extent has taken some weight off local waste management companies who have to be rather ingenious in finding alternatives to expensive curbside comingled trash and recycled content collection at some reasonable cost.

Recycled Paper Envelope
Recycled Paper Envelope
Recycled paper napkins
Recycled paper napkins

How to Properly Ship Clothing and Used Items When Moving

Ship it or pack it when moving? Airlines have raised their their prices so much lately that paying overweight baggage fees at close to 10-15 dollars per kilo is just too much. Before you know it, this “slightly” heavier bag which also happens to be oversized too can cost you a good fifty-sixty dollars. Purchasing luggage in advance help to certain extent. Many airlines have a bag limitation of up to sixty linear inches per piece – all height, length and width dimensions of a bag added together should be less or equal to.

Another option is to ship in advance. Shipping items of great value, size or really awkward shape might would be unreasonable. Shipping art is also advised against unless you want to see your favorite Chinese vase in fifty pieces on the receiving end.

Shipping used items requires less attention to detail and could allow some compromise as opposed to shipping new and valuable content. First item is to reevaluate items whether they are really needed and compare prices of new stuff versus shipping charges, chances of damage and the possibility to sell some of the used equipment even at excellent bargains for other people.

When shipping used belongings the majority of people opt for used shipping boxes. While this makes sense, choose a box which is not showing signs of wear and match it up with the intended weight of what goes in it. Again, placing a 30-pound item in a box designed to handle only fifteen pounds is a sign of poor judgment regardless of the fact that the contents might fit freely in the shipping container. Most retail large shipping boxes have designation on their bottom showing designed weight, edge crush test, puncture resistance and other technical information. Going against these regulations will almost always end up unfortunate especially when shipping at larger distances.

Once a package is prepared, bubble wrap and polystyrene packaging peanuts used accordingly, be careful with the packing tape. Some newer makes and models of the latter are made so cheaply that they can ruin the whole shipment and simply come undone like shoe laces. Proper packing tape should be used, not duct, frog or electrical regardless of their looks or color. Post offices in different countries seem to have a mind of their own so when shipping internationally, make sure you write the recipient’s address on the box in addition to the stickers they put on there. Once this is done, apply clear packing tape on top to protect the extra label from water etc. damage.

How to Pack Fragile Items vs. non-Fragile Merchandise in 14 Steps

Shipping items securely starts with proper packaging. Some handy materials to have around would be a couple of large shipping boxes, polystyrene packaging peanuts, packing tape (best in a tape gun or tape dispenser), bubble wrap and some fragile or this-side-up stickers if relevant.

Packing a non-fragile item:

  • Find a box of proper qualities with enough strength, weight, puncture resistance etc. characteristics.
  • Put the box together – shipping boxes normally come flat. Build the box and secure bottom and sides with packing tape.
  • Place 3/16’ bubble wrap around item and secure with tape so that it does not slide out of its plastic home while in motion
  • Create a foundation in the box on bottom with about an inch of packaging polystyrene peanuts
  • Place item in
  • Cover with an additional layer of packing peanuts
  • Seal box with packing tape

Packing a fragile item:

This process is similar to when you ordered your laptop online and it came double boxed. In other words, the laptop itself was in the manufacturer’s corrugated cardboard box. The online retailer then placed it in another larger shipping box and delivered to your door.

All steps from above remain plus the following which are in addition:

  • The smaller cardboard box should go in a larger shipping container and allow for 3 inches of insulation material on either side between the external and the internal boxes. Get a box relevant to your sizes.
  • Place packaging peanuts on the bottom of the larger box – enough to match the 3-inch rule above.
  • Position smaller box in
  • Use void or loose fill to compensate room on the side it relevant. Larger bubble wrap is usually fit for purpose here.
  • Cover the contents of the large shipping box with more polystyrene packaging peanuts. Push gently on the peanuts until they naturally lock the smaller box in.
  • Seal the external box with packing tape and label properly
  • Place fragile stickers

This second method of box in a box is sometimes criticized for over packaging. While this is indeed true, it is also true that the smaller boxes in this shipping duo can be easily reused and cardboard boxes are typically recycled and remanufactured. This shipping style is known to deliver safe and sound to customers and should be preferred to any single box packaging solution.

Recycling Resin Codes and Shipping Boxes

The recycling codes are used to easily and clearly identify materials and separate them accordingly. The resin codes from 1 to 7 are by far the most common and popular. These are various plastics and thermoforms such as polyethylene, polypropylene terephthalate (the all known PET), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polystyrene etc. Category 7 is often referred to as just “other” and suggests mixed plastics, groups different from one through six and sometimes even bio-plastics or other styles of bio-degradable bottles etc. These latter should typically be thrown in the comingled waste and be kept away from the recyclables since they might contaminate the stream and cause more damage than good. A potential problem might be the fact that regular or green plastic packaging all look the same. When the amount of bio-degradables raises too much in a mixture of recyclables, it could seriously render the whole stream useless or deteriorate quality or recycled materials considerably. It would be nice if the industry could agree on some clear and distinctive features to make the bio-plastics stand out and not get mixed in.

Categories 20 through 23 are a lot more relevant to large shipping boxes due to their paper origins. 20 is normally C PAP for cardboard followed by other paper, regular paper and paperboard. In addition, codes 60 to 69 are all textiles with 60 being cotton and 61 for jute. These last two are important since when cardboard is made, wood chips are only one of the raw materials which goes into the paper pulp. Certain crops and namely cotton and jute, are also used by paper mills to make paperboard and in one way or another, find their way into cardboard shipping boxes.

Having in mind that cardboard is only a popular name for the building material of shipping boxes, one could reasonably ask why category 20 is titled C PAP – maybe cardboard paper or carton paper? It may have been a bit more truthful to call it corrugated fiberboard as it is the proper name of the paperboard sandwich which lives in the walls of large and small cardboard boxes. The wavy inside flutes are what makes a shipping box strong and are super important as the size of the box goes up combined with heavy load weight. These corrugated flutes flex and bend and are what absorbs all road pressure when a package is in motion.

Recycling code for Aluminum
Recycling code for Aluminum

Packing Tape, Polystyrene Sheets and Shipping Boxes for a Complete Shipping Solution

Yes, that’s right. These three elements are crucial to the creation of a solid shipment from a corrugated cardboard box following best packaging practices. The most important is naturally the box – if an inappropriate box is chosen, there is little which can be done to protect the items in motion and damages are almost guaranteed. Selecting proper shipping boxes is simple and generally driven by one golden rule of thumb – designed weight and merchandise specifics. These two have to be matched up. An example of a poor match would be placing an item which weighs thirty pounds into a container designed to only handle ten pounds. Regardless of how it may look, this combo would not work and has to be redone to avoid problems with ripped boxes, damaged goods, insurance claims and other headache etc.

Polystyrene sheets are an essential packaging element. They are typically made of expanded polystyrene which can rather often be seen under the brand of Styrofoam. These sheets can be cut and customized into almost any shape and house the precious cargo. Once it is secure, an item which is already in its polystyrene home can then be safely placed inside a large shipping box to continue its journey on to the final packaging destination. Polystyrene would act in accordance with the corrugated flutes inside the walls of large shipping boxes and allow for further absorption of external and internal pressure as a parcel travels. In a sense, large shipping boxes get a second set of suspension springs when they are combined with polystyrene sheets.

Packing tape provides the finishing touches together with a shipping label. Packing tape is essential when packing to ensure that a corrugated cardboard box is safe and secure. It is slick and durable and allows shipping containers to glide along conveyor belts, truck bodies and hand carts. Filament tape is another flavor which contains tiny plastic shavings inside its walls and is also appropriate to be used as packing tape when some very heavy loads are to be seal shut. Plastic straps do the best job when placed around shipping boxes to secure bulky or loads or extra weight.

Corrugated Shipping Boxes

Shipping containers are corrugated boxes and quite often corrugated mailers. The difference is that the mailers are really only designed to be shipping boxes only. Their regular corrugated cardboard counterparts can be multipurpose and can be used multiple times. Typically, a box which has been shipped once could be reused even if it is single use only. While not recommended for shipping, such a box could be effectively used in its capacity as a moving box or removal box. Many of these corrugated fiberboard moving and storage containers find themselves in a corner with a trash bag or plastic liner and become converted into a garbage can.

Cardboard aka corrugated fiberboard is what most of the shipping boxes are made of. Plastic polymers, metals even corrugated plastic are also possible alternative and depend on price vs. functionality desired or product requirements compliance as per code. Corrugated fiberboard boxes are really popular since their features and qualities are not only predictable and varied – they can be customized to order. There are many retailers or shipping suppliers who offer cardboard shipping boxes by the bale or truckload only. They are only interested in keeping prices low so selling in retail amounts would not allow them to remain competitive.

Pallet boxes (sometimes seen as Gaylord boxes) are also available and form a rather common combination in the shipping and packaging industry of shipping boxes loaded on a pallet and then secured with plastic straps or saran wrap. This trio is then loaded on to even larger shipping boxes – containers. The ultra large metal boxes then travel on transport such as delivery trucks, railway cars or ships when the loads are huge and have to go great distances at lowest cost. Gaylords are these really large shipping boxes which are placed directly on a pallet – they can be rectangular or oval. Their size is designed to match up the pallets so that they can be handled securely by a forklift.

Some retailers and department stores often use Gaylord boxes as retail ready packaging containers. This is the ultimate use of trade floor space – the large shipping boxes have their sides shortened down so that shoppers can conveniently pick and choose from the items displayed inside. Needless to say such “shelves” are extremely easy to restock and are often used to display marked down, last year’s collection or end of season blowout items. These pallet boxes are also made of corrugated fiberboard and may have two or even more layers of corrugated wavy flutes in their walls for extra safety and strength. Few of them may be treated with special waxes to improve weather resistance. In addition, fire retardation agents can be added to the cardboard pulp in the production cycle and make them while not fire-proof, at least less susceptible to sparks or minor fire. Other qualities which can be called for by retailers or resellers include edge crush test, puncture resistance and, within a reason, even barrier protection against sudden temperature drops or rises.

How to Justify Recycling Efforts for Cardboard and Shipping Boxes

Unlike papermaking, the idea of separate collection of used paper dates back a lot shorter in time. Abundant periodicals, many materials used in schools and various trainings, thousands of flyers, food and garment packaging, multiple copies of documents in banks, administration etc. and even the annual write-off of books from libraries for various reasons. All these build up an orderly system for collection of waste paper and justify recycling efforts in order to avoid leaving a thick paper trail in landfills.

Educational work with children and students is especially rewarding in that respect. Initiatives for paper collection and recycling can be easily announced by notifying students in advance with posters, school newsletters or even in classes. Various incentives can be created to encourage participation. A campaign would be successful if it provides transportation to the point of collection and recycling. Involvement of volunteers has also shown good results with mini competitions between the teams aimed at collecting more paper and attracting more stakeholders in achieving larger publicity.

Alternatively, schools can have a designated permanent paper collection point. This could require a bit more resources from school managements and headmaster approvals such as finding premises and creating a position for an attendant. Students typically make a number of copies of notes and class materials so having recycling bins handy is imperative. Hoping that students will collect their scratch paper, journals or even scrapbooks and make the extra effort to find a blue paper recycling station, may or may not work. Recycle bins have to be readily available otherwise paper will go in the comingled trash. They should be even more handy for school departments such as their cafeteria or their packaging and shipping counter etc.

An interesting idea is to place paper bins at kindergarten or primary school entrances. As parents bring their child in the morning they can drop off used paper from home and save a trip to the paper recycling place. In addition, some nurseries have great inventions of improvised containers – baskets made of used small and large cardboard boxes with fictitious shapes and names such as “dragon-eating paper” etc. This style of initiatives creates an early mindset which is a prerequisite for a society focused on sustainable cardboard and shipping boxes breakdown, collection and ultimately inexpensive recycling of paper and corrugated fiberboard.

Large Shipping Boxes Used as Container Data Centers

Google uses modified regular shipping containers for it performance data centers. They are stacked neatly in hangars with almost no manpower. This unconventional data center approach appears to allow them the ultimate labor cost control. What is more, used shipping containers were already outlined to provide rather usable commercial and personal living space so using them for data center storage is rather logical.

These large shipping boxes, made of metal, are plugged into a highly efficient HVAC system for ventilation, air conditioning and humidity control. They use a centrally controlled water cooling system which is piped to the individual containers and then plugged under the metal bar flooring into each individual server container. They are packed full of commodity hardware which runs 24×7 and executes queries and other requests. Google runs these containers at 27C degrees (almost 81F) temperature and saves on cooling by allowing warmer temperatures. The computer hardware would invariably fail and its failure would be duly noted yet word on the street has it that no steps would actually be taken until about 40 per cent of the boxes stop working. Once this threshold is reached, the whole container gets replaced with all its contents – a rather interesting model of data center performance. This would be a real test for hardware failure ratios – it would be great to have this information handy once it is time to do hardware upgrades at the office. Google seems to do the ultimate hardware tests.

What comes to Google’s help here is the fact that the majority of its business is not bound to service level agreements. Or at least not guaranteed ones. While there certainly is an internal regulation on how long a search should take or how available a service should be, we really do not care if we query the search engine and it takes two or three seconds longer to deliver results. Certain branches of the business such as Google docs or other to-pay for services are set up in a different manner to provide the contracted services without any complains. Maybe there are different data center specs for these paid services or a special model of data center services in this case which varies from the container-based pattern.

Similar usage of large shipping boxes is unconventional. While this blog has touched on cardboard, furniture or other less popular items made of corrugated fiberboard, the IT industry has never been a subject. Such data center approach is certainly unheard of. This could be the reason why Google have been so successful and is abreast of other search engine traffic contenders.

Table Tents Use Corrugated Fiberboard To Support Menu Design

In certain aspects, table tents are very much like large shipping boxes (see picture below)! Typically, they are made of cardstock which is a heavy paperboard used for business cards, restaurant menus, scrapbooking, stationery etc. This style of paper provides sufficient resources for stable and solid table tents with pleasing looks and attractive appearance. This is what restauranteurs and other business owners are looking for when using similar props to assist in the menu design process and seasonable etc. promotions. The slick and shiny sides of cardstock offer almost unparalleled area for excellent quality gloss printing and sending memorable commercial messaging.

The sides of the equation change a bit when table tents have to be taken outside for outdoor usage in the warmer periods. The light design of the structure does not allow it to withstand even the lightest of wind. The managers of the place pictured below had solved the problem in a rather cardboard box-manner – they attached a piece of 3-ply corrugated fiberboard sandwich to the inside of the table tents giving them extra stability and allowing for some wind resistance. While this does not make them water proof (the tents were showing some signs of water wear) it is a step in the right direction and solves some issues. It would probably not be applicable on a larger scale due to the amount of manual labor unless the whole engineering of the table tents gets modified to reflect the needed outdoors amendments.

Large shipping boxes and their building materials again prove to be rather versatile in usage and application. Certainly table tents are mailed to customers flat and in bulk amounts in order to keep postage cost within a reason. Many manufacturers have taken this to the next level making furniture and even transforming large shipping containers into cosy and even high-tech office spaces with container housing units.

large cardboard boxes
Corrugated Fiberboard in Table Tents

Large Shipping Boxes Specifics

Large shipping boxes are typically bigger cardboard boxes of 12 or more inches across their largest dimension. These shipping boxes are normally made of corrugated fiberboard, plastic (or some polymer), wood or some newer material such as fiberglass. Their size and strength can be customized together with other qualities such as edge crush test, puncture resistance, burst strength, barrier protection, number to stack on each other etc.

Large shipping boxes are unique and in many ways essential to industry sectors which involve manufacturing, business to business or business to consumer relations. Their uniqueness stems from the corrugated fiberboard heritage which is their building block. Corrugated fiberboard is a sandwich with two or more layers where flat liners are alternated with corrugated flutes. A common example is a cardboard box with three elements – an inside and outside liners plus a wavy flute medium. Outside box liners are usually printed with various advertising and contact information. Their printing qualities and color can further be tailored to customer demand and product specifications.

All three box elements are made of containerboard which is a type of paperboard – a heavier paper with grammage over 200 grams per square meter. The flutes are the magic of cardboard shipping boxes. They live in the corrugated sandwich and act as shock absorbers or suspension struts for its passengers. Flutes flex and bend as needed and absorb pressure from inside the box and outside factors while items are in motion. Their function is crucial since a box can change transport delivery vehicles and hands many times before its final destination.

Flutes are rated A through F and vary depending on their size. Large flutes suggest better box stacking capabilities. Finer and smaller corrugated flutes would designate better puncture resistance of large shipping boxes. These characteristics can be or utmost importance for certain loads. The flutes contain air which within a reason can act as barrier protection against sudden temperature changes and is important when shipping food items for example. What is more, recent reference points to bacteria killing paper which uses silver nano particles as a coating and prevents food borne diseases. Proof of concept is on the way to see if the cost of such invention can make it widespread.

Large shipping boxes pair up well with other representatives of the packaging industry such as polystyrene foam or packaging peanuts, bubble wrap, dunnage, loose fill, other void fill, packing tape, packaging paper etc. It is important that shipments and parcels are prepared carefully and according to the best shipping practices identified earlier on this blog. Large shipping boxes should be packed tightly yet the items shipped should not be in direct contact with any of the sides of a box. Only proper packaging can ensure that and avoid trouble when loading and offloading items. Larger boxes tend to be heavier with slightly higher risk so loads should be matched up with the design strength of boxes and manufacturers’ guidelines strictly followed to avoid damage and problems.

Large Shipping Boxes International

A recent international shipment done by the author of this blog really sends a valid message on proper packaging and packing tape usage. Shipping boxes internationally is not scientifically complex, yet it has some snags and caveats which are covered below.

Package contents at source – two CDs plus a small box of St. Valentine chocolates for a colleague in the Moscow office. Contents of the package at the destination point – two CDs. Did a border or customers officer eat the candy? Unlikely. Was it held up for some customs clearance violation – also unlikely? Was it properly packaged? The author of this blog considers himself a near expert on the subject of best shipping practices and yet this evident blunder. How is this possible?

Part of the reason is in the shipment details. The small shipping box which was handed to the purchasing and receiving folks only contained the merchandise which was to be delivered plus a piece of paper with the address label. The box was not sealed and packaging peanuts and foam, air bubbles etc. were not placed inside to isolate the content from damage, environment and courier wrath. The author was counting on the intelligence of the office people to handle it in a coherent manner yet he did not point them to his blog on large shipping boxes packing and handling in advance to get educated. Lessons learned from this experience to help others in similar situation:

  • Always do the packaging yourself. Do not count on other people to do parcel preparation or else female coworkers get deprived of candy at package destination and frustration is inevitable.
  • Follow the guidelines posted here and here and avoid a number of shipping errors. The guidelines contain proper details in accordance with specifics of the package shipped including extra heavy and awkward loads/packages.
  • Do not save on packing tape and purchasing the fit for purpose box with proper edge crush test and weight specifications as well as other factors. You do not want part of the shipment at the destination – you would like to see the whole shipment intact.
  • Placing “fragile” stickers and handwritten signs on shipments going international to countries whose language is different than English is only so helpful – try to get it labeled in the local language too.
  • Writing the address of the recipient in the local language and keeping the country and city in English actually speeds up the process. Use this with discretion for languages where characters outside the Latin alphabet are used. Postmen intelligence is not to be assumed or relied on.

    General Guidelines for Strength, Label Placement and Related Information for Large Shipping Boxes

    This post outlines some general guidelines and recommendations when choosing the right large shipping boxes for your goods. It will use the previous example of a large and heavy electronics item placed in a 20x20x20-inch box. This post also assumes that previously-discussed proper packaging best practices have been followed and room inside the case has been allocated accordingly.

    For such an item the most appropriate is a single-wall 250 burst strength box. It should be new and be rated to 350-lbs per square inch burst strength (pressure at which the material will burst and not survive – usually printed on the package). Viable alternative for this example can be double-wall large shipping boxes with 44 lbs per square inch edge crush test or ECT. ECT is the probable force which would crush a box on its edge – it is a performance test which, among other factors, measures the ability of a box to stack. It is measured in pounds per linear inch.

    Once proper weight and packaging requirements are met, the box has to be properly sealed. Use of packaging tape is recommended. Another good kind is filament or strapping tape – it combines plastic straps making the tape extra strong. Use of masking, cellophane, duct etc. tape should be avoided since they serve a different purpose. Regular slotted containers (the most popular kind where the flaps meet in the middle) should have a total of six strips of 2-inch tape (48 mm) applied to both top and bottom of the large shipping boxes. All seams should be sealed to allow for transportation safety. Packaging tape should be slick so that boxes can slide along belts, truck bodies, carts etc.

    Labeling convention for large shipping boxes is relatively simple – there should only be one visible address. It should be clearly typed and intelligence on the side of the person handling your boxes should not be assumed or relied on – you do not want a box meant for Berlin, Germany to end up in Berlin, Maryland. If a packaging slip is used, it should go on the same side of the box where the address is. If using an older box – make sure that all other addresses are illegible and crossed off. Do not place labels or slips on the edge of the box and use markers etc which are not water soluble in case of a spill over the box. Placing a duplicate of the source and destination address is an excellent habit which could save you trouble down the line.

    large shipping boxes
    Box Label, image property of UPS.com

    Retail-Ready Packaging and Large Shipping Boxes

    Newer trends and consumer behavior characteristics suggest that a comprehensive approach should be taken to packaging involving all supply-chain stakeholders and internal departments of an organization. What works successfully for a disparate section of a company might nor be applicable across the board. Retail-ready packaging (RRP) embraces the whole chain of supply and corporate activities in an efficient manner. In a nutshell, it presents merchandise which occupies retail stores’ trade space in its own base, packaging, appearance and sends a strong message. When implemented carefully, RRP will blend in smoothly with the rest of the shelf items in a store and boost revenue stream.

    Retail ready packaging is utilized to improve merchandise appearance and acceptance, enhance impact on shopping habits and store employees. It bridges the gap between customer needs and store availability in a uniform fashion. RRP is easily identifiable from a distance whether on store shelves or in its own free-standing base. This is true for both shoppers and employees in the back room looking to restock. RRP makes items look fresher and maintain that look over time – some examples are deli items, individually wrapped produce, electronics and accessories on display stands etc. RRP can live on shelves, peg displays, stackable large shipping boxes with ad liners etc. One of its advantages for stores is that retail floor can be fully utilized by filling up corners and areas which are otherwise hard to take advantage of. What is more, it comes in its own self-contained display box which can be custom ordered to match trade floor gaps and design constraints.

    Considerations for RRP involve four major players – customers, retailers, distribution centers and suppliers. While their requirements are not utterly unique and do overlap, there are some specifics from each side’s point of interest. Customers want items which are easy to find, fit well in a shopping cart and are easy to carry. Distribution centers and suppliers generally look for packaging which needs little effort to transport, load and unload and is belt-friendly etc. Stores have the longest list of requirements – the packaging should be easy to stock and restock, expiration dates clearly identifiable, outside packaging should be light, disposable, durable and not too bulky, large shipping boxes should be easy to open and stack nicely etc.

    In conclusion, to improve the outcome of retail-ready packaging, retailer and suppliers must be engaged in a constant dialogue – after all this is a marketing advantage for all stakeholders in the process since their objective is to meet sales targets and fast ensure merchandise turnover. Funds for RRP should be allocated from marketing budgets if needed. To properly take advantage of RRP, a consistent approach is needed. Stores should not only alert suppliers to start sending products for a category in retail-ready packaging. In addition, the retailer should relay all requirements including backroom and distribution center specifics, shelving, setting and color etc. This would ensure better employee buy-in the process and accelerate consumer acceptance reaching financial objectives in a timely manner.

    Large Shipping Boxes – Packaging and Shipping Best Practices

    The most useful and truly unique resource identified for proper item packaging and shipping of large shipping boxes is the UPS packaging advisor. It is also an online calculator since it allows for exact box dimensions to be put it together with the contents being shipped. Items are broken down in many categories and while not every aspect of human life is covered, the categories are chosen well enough. It is likely that whatever goes in your large shipping boxes will be listed there or a broader guideline will be relevant.

    In this and the next post I will briefly outline two of my experiences so far with various items and box sizes. First object is a breakable houseware item (home décor of some sort) which will be mailed in 20x20x20 inches large shipping boxes and weighing 15 lbs. Once a selection is made, the calculator would offer results which come in as recommended and alternate cushioning. Recommended in this case is large-cell bubble wrap. The size of the bubbles should be around half an inch and the item should be carefully wrapped up in a few layers with special attention to the corners. If more than one item is prepared, then each should be individually wrapped. On another note, packaging should be tight and at least around 2-inches thick. All objects should be at least 2 inches away from each other and from the sides of the large shipping boxes for safest protection from vibrations and shock while in transit.

    Two alternative methods are listed for the above item – foam sheeting and foam-in-bag also known as foam-in-place. Foam sheeting is light, flexible packaging material made of polystyrene or polyethylene. It comes in various thicknesses. For these 20-inch large shipping box any thickness would work as long as the sheeting is wrapped enough to add up to two inches around all items.

    Foam-in-bag cushioning forms a mold around any product by means of a chemical mixture which extends, fills up the empty space and builds protective layers. The texture of the mould could be void for light-weight items or it could be filled with performance packaging to properly meet the requirements of the large shipping boxes.

    Next is a consumer electronics item of 40 lbs in the same size box. This would be available in the next post on large shipping boxes together with the link to the packaging advisor. It is posted on the large cardboard boxes central.

    How to Ship, Pack and Choose Service for Large Shipping Boxes?

    Here are the best shipping considerations in a nutshell when it comes to large shipping boxes:

    • Use new boxes or simply assume the risk that your goods might be damaged. Go through a quick calculation of the value of goods shipped versus the cost of a shipping box in advance.
    • The box design should be in accordance with the items inside the box. Considerations such as shape, strength, closure etc are important. Do not place a 30-lb load in a box manufactured to handle 10 lbs. Using masking tape to seal a box might be against good sense also. Additionally, research box strength and ability to handle abuse. The higher the edge crush test number (ECT), the better chances of safety for your belongings. On average any large shipping box should be able to survive a 3.5-ft free fall. Package accordingly.
    • Package smartly and allow for error. Use bubble wrap, Styrofoam, packaging peanuts etc as needed. Whatever the contents is, it should be well protected from all sides and it should not be directly wedged against the inside edges of the large shipping boxes.
    • Box signage – if you are shipping fragile materials use proper stickers, this side up etc. Remember the art is in the packaging – couriers may or may not regard your signs. What is more, when your box is at the bottom of a 10-high stack – the fragile sticker might not account for much.
    • Insurance and value. Some shipping options give you certain insurance coverage by default such as international priority mail etc. Research the options before you send your large shipping boxes on their way and purchase additional coverage if needed. If shipping items of value, be sure that you have supporting documentation such as receipts, invoices etc. to prove what they are worth. Items of emotional significance will probably not strike a sympathetic chord when filing a claim for damages from your grandma’s wedding crystal champagne flutes.
    • Place a duplicate of both source and destination addresses for the large shipping boxes you are sending. It is good to put this in a plastic protector in case of water damages etc.

    Some tips on shipping insurance. Claims under $200 are generally settled easier and relatively fast. Claims in excess of $200 may be a harder case to prove so have the needed receipts etc. ready. In addition, couriers are not inclined to paying for damages where the large shipping box appears to have minor or no damages on the outside and the contents was damaged. They would normally blame poor packaging for this and will not honor your claim. Issues when a box disappears if it was not signed for might be easier to prove. To this end, a large number of the damages are actually suffered on the receiving side – people will throw out a box too early and forget the remote control in there or are a bit hasty to pull out the new electronic gadget they bought online. If you are an online reseller provide sufficient notice of what the box contains.

    Which is the best courier for you? There is only one answer to this – work with the local people. If the local UPS driver is the more careful and more attentive person – go with UPS even if FedEx is your favorite. On the other hand – if FedEx deliver earlier to your address while UPS do not come in until 4.45pm – act accordingly. Choose whatever makes sense for your business when sending or receiving large shipping boxes. Another thought to consider – on large public holidays, couriers might employ temporary workers with their own transport who deliver on their behalf. Have this in mind when shipping over Christmas etc.

    Where to Find Large Shipping Boxes

    Large shipping boxes can have a dual usage – for shipping and moving. When picking a box for moving, it is ok to go with a used box. Used boxes can be found at almost any employers’ purchasing department (so check before you leave work), most grocery stores etc. Grocery stores are sometimes mandated to recycle their used cardboard but on days when their dumpsters are overflowing they would be thankful if you help them get rid of a few boxes. Another not so well-known place is your local computer shop. Many of these smaller businesses do installations, support and hardware orders and the actual equipment is taken to their customers. Monitors, CPU towers etc. come in cases placed in large shipping boxes which are sometimes a bother for the shop owners to get rid of. Computer and peripheral cardboard boxes are strong and durable and are a good choice for moving needs.

    When shipping via a courier or the post office, it is recommended to pack your goods in a new box. Even the most well-known and reputable couriers employ people who may be having a bad day and take it out on your shipment. Trouble here is guaranteed if the box you chose was towards the end of its life cycle when you picked it up – filing insurance claims for damages can take a long time. Here are some resources identified as helpful when looking for a large shipping box:

    • The box finder at Staples – very user-friendly designed resource with a huge selection available and some search-customization options – http://staples.packagingfinder.net. A10-pack of 20″x20″x20″ multi-depth box was going for about $100. Multi-depth technology used provides extra strength when stacking and flexibility when choosing your large shipping boxes.
    • The almighty Amazon had a 12-pack of 18x18x24-inch for around $70 – some from Amazon some from other resellers on the marketplace.
    • EBay has great deals on large shipping boxes also. Their search interface is slightly awkward to use and takes a bit more time. The savings may be worth your while. You can go for sellers with the buy-it-now option as opposed to bid and wait etc.
    • Couriers’ offices and the post office also carry a supply of large shipping boxes and are a viable option. Their selection is based on availability.
    • Mailboxes etc and your local copy shop are places to look into also. While slightly more expensive than the online deals, local shops can be extremely helpful and even assist in packaging your content since they have better tape guns, straps etc which are sometimes needed for getting large shipping boxes ready.

    In addition, here are some manufacturer names (brands) in the corrugated fiberboard industry:

    • Caremail
    • Duck Brand
    • Fellowes
    • Georgia Pacific

    Largest Shipping Boxes – Containers

    This post will touch on a very large shipping box – cargo containers. They travel on all transport types from ships to trucks and even airplanes. They are universal and come in standardized lengths – 20, 40 and 45 feet. The most popular container length is 40 feet. The other measurements are 8 feet for width and 8.5 feet for height. Their average life span is 10 years and there is one new container made every 5 minutes in China. A container is designed to handle up to 20 tons of load and can contain other large shipping boxes inside. Containers stack neatly on top of each other and are held together by a twist lock. There are enough containers on earth now to build an 8-ft high wall which wraps around the Equator twice!

    Shipping containers became popular after the World Wars and their usage was made mainstream by a company called Matson. In the 60s Matson had their own containerization program aimed at optimizing workload management, improving turnaround time at the docks and eliminating manual labor. They even went as far as designing and implementing the first portainer also called a gantry crane – a crane designed to safely and quickly move containers from ship to shore and vice versa.

    An example of a less popular use of containers which is gaining strength is Container City in London – total of one hundred housing units. They are built from used containers which are stacked on top of each other allowing for windows, nice architectural shapes and even balconies. The original idea was to build temporary offices out of containers which were already too old. Construction was easy since no concrete or bricks are needed and led to a boom of the new building style and a number of upgrades and modern conveniences which now come with them. Heating, water, ventilation etc are standard and judging by the videos – the units appeared cozy and homely. This type of construction has gained recognition and some schools and hospitals were erected this way. An Australian architect has taken the idea to the next step utilizing the containers for temporary buildings and emergency shelter.

    Large Shipping Boxes
    Container housing units

    Large Shipping Boxes – How to Ship Efficiently

    Large Shipping Boxes

    The United States Post Office will ship anything up to 70 pounds. Everything above and beyond that is considered a large shipping box. Any of the couriers who deliver in your area will gladly pick up a larger packet and ship it almost anywhere in the world.

    Additionally, any package over 12 inches is considered large. A simple test would be to see if it fits in a mailbox. The door to some of the mailboxes swings open quite wide so if you cannot get it to fit in freely, do not push since it can get wedged in on the inside. This will give you the feeling that you have posted you package while it is really jammed against the inside of the mailbox. Larger shipping boxes are known to have spent quite some time in there before being found and properly mailed.

    Better choice for mailing large shipping boxes is to call in a pick up or take the box to the post office. If shipping via a courier and if you have the mailing label ready, you could avoid the pickup charge by giving your package to a delivery driver. They would normally use a handheld device and then scan the package into the system. Once a package is checked in, it becomes traceable and normal shipping rules apply to it – such as overnight delivery or second-day etc.

    A good idea in this respect is to always have some shipping labels handy from the corresponding courier. All you have to do then is fill out the label with your account number or credit card information and destination address, contents description etc. Additionally, a great trick known by few people is to learn the route of the local couriers – at times it is predefined or scheduled according to the size  and number of large shipping boxes on board of the delivery truck. Some of them use GPS software which maps out their route according to the deliveries for the day – this is an optimization technique taken on by the bigger companies to eliminate left turns. Left turns cause delays and lead to use of more fuel.

    The majority of the couriers and definitely the mailman still follow a predefined route. If you learn that route you will have the advantage of time on your side and you can ship your large shipping boxes with whatever company picks up in a time slot more convenient to you. You can also accommodate late orders etc.

    More on cardboard shipping boxes at http://www.largecardboardboxes.net.