16 May Raquel Piquer: The future is in cardboard
Human beings make decisions based on first impressions. And when we realise that those impressions were inaccurate, it is very hard for us to extricate these preconceived notions from our minds. One of these misconceptions is that the cardboard industry is not environmentally friendly.
Today’s society has reached a degree of development that was unforeseeable only a few decades ago. Industrialisation and the consumer economy have brought us to a point in which it is hard to balance growth and sustainability. At this juncture, corrugated cardboard has become one of the allies of green enterprises.
From the moment of its manufacturing, this material optimises the use of resources. Used paper and cardboard become raw materials through recycling, making the most out of cellulose fibres. In fact, 85% of the raw materials used in the production of corrugated cardboard boxes are recycled.
This is a versatile material. It can take on whichever shapes or sizes required by the product. Or, to make an analogy, it is like a custom-made garment that the industry usually employs for packaging and shipping, since it allows the maximum use of each square centimetre in a pallet, truck or warehouse. It transports product, not air. Thanks to these qualities, fewer trucks are needed to distribute the same amount of merchandise, resulting in decreased greenhouse gas emissions.
This industrial applications have been penetrating different sectors and eventually reached the food industry. Since each product comes in a newly made box—corrugated cardboard packages are used only once—there is no risk of contamination due to prior use. Thus, its use does not pose any risks to the public health or the environment.
This last quality is its biggest advantage. This raw material is 100% biodegradable and/or recyclable. Therefore, after having been used, paper and cardboard are picked up selectively and recycled into new paper. Resources are used responsibly, less waste is produced, and greenhouse emissions and their consequences are reduced.
Can you imagine what it would be like if we were to expand their massive use to household goods? Can you picture biodegradable furniture? What about 100% recyclable purses? This may seem a utopian fantasy, but it is already a reality. For almost a decade now, the research and development department of the La Plana Group has developed prototypes for furniture, office accessories and marketing supplies made solely of corrugated cardboard.
The original purpose was to understand the possibilities of the material for future developments. The result was the creation of a new approach to the production of household and office products.
In this process we had the collaboration of professionals committed to ecodesign, such as Ana Yago, José Antonio Giménez and Sanserif Creatius, for the creation of a collection of alternative furniture, 100% biodegradable, fully made of cardboard, which presents a competitive alternative to conventional materials and forms.
It was just another experience. Our specialty continues to be packaging and shipping products, in which a higher photographic quality, the eco-friendly materials and processes (reusable, photovoltaic inks, energy saving systems) give our product additional “values” that are missing in their competitors, along with other advantages and lower production costs.
The future is for those who choose design with social and environmental “values”, such as the use of sustainable energy based on renewable resources. Only thus can we meet the emerging needs of society—of the consumer.
From now on, whenever you see a cardboard box, stop to think of the benefits it brings to the environment. Consider that your products will never travel more safely than within a natural and clean container such as cardboard. Consider that the increased use of cardboard in the world contributes to your future wellbeing. Consider that, once it is recovered, it could be turned into an additional piece of furniture for your house.