Safety | Water Activated Tape | Corrugated Cartons

What's The Difference: Cardboard Vs. Corrugated Cartons

By: Better Packages on January 18th, 2023

Print/Save as PDF



Why does packaging make a difference?  


In 2021, B2B e-commerce grew 1.17 times faster than the growth in all U.S. manufacturing and distributor sales, which increased 15.2% to $13.09 trillion in 2021 from $11.36 trillion in 2020. The drastic jump in online B2B sales is a huge opportunity for any business, but oftentimes can present a challenge when shipping your products.

Customers expect their orders to arrive intact and ready to use. The shipping supply chain is often not easy on packages. While it can be a fulfillment process challenge, you must pack and ship products securely in order to maintain customer satisfaction..

Packaging e-commerce products properly also avoids damaged goods and product theft.

What should I be using? And why?

It's common for people to use the word "cardboard" when referring to any type of paper packaging material. However, for the professional packaging industries, the effective material used is corrugated cartons. So what's the difference between the two? 

Although the two materials may look similar, corrugated cartons are more durable than cardboard boxes, alleviating the worry that your products will be damaged during shipping. Read further to learn more about the differences between cardboard vs. corrugated cartons to enhance your packaging efforts. 

What's The Difference In Terminology? 

When selecting the most suitable materials to ship your products in, the first step you should take should be to know the quality of packaging you’re actually receiving. The first impression of your business your customers will make is unwrapping their goods.

Cardboard typically refers to a thick paper stock or heavy paper pulp. 

This type of material is typically used for cereal boxes or greeting cards. However, corrugated cartons are made with some cardboard, it’s important to know that these materials are not the same.

Corrugated is made up of three layers of paper that include an inside liner, an outside liner, and fluting with a ruffled shape, which runs in between the two. 

This type of material enhances the packaging process across the board. You can expect to see a notable difference in: 

  • Durability
  • Product protection
  • Cost decreases
  • Environmentally friendly 

Bonus points: it is also lightweight with a high strength-to-weight ratio! When formed into boxes, corrugated sheets are ideal for shipping because they are solid and durable, and easily recycled.

While surface level the differences may not be obvious, cardboard is better left for items such as cards and cereal boxes. Corrugated, on the other hand, is the packaging material of choice for shipping boxes for safe and protected packaging. 

Environmentally Friendly Packaging Solution: 

In today’s world, we all know the importance of prioritizing eco-friendly solutions when shipping and packaging your products. Nearly 80 percent of U.S. consumers consider sustainability (of a product, the retailer, or the brand) when making at least some purchases. Almost 80 percent of retailers believe their sustainability efforts pay off in increased customer loyalty.

This makes another large win for utilizing corrugated cardboard as your main packaging solution. Corrugated is made from a high percentage of recycled paper, without harmful bleach or dye, and can be recycled again after they're used. 

Enhancing The Packaging Process:  

When you’re sending out a high volume of orders every day, it's vital for your production to have the proper shipping materials. It is your job as a business owner to ensure products are secure and make it to their destination in impeccable condition. 

To enhance security and improve your brand, the corrugated cartons can be sealed with water-activated tape (WAT).

Made primarily out of Kraft paper tape, WAT creates a permanent bond to the corrugated carton. Unlike plastic tape, it cannot be torn off without leaving signs of tampering. Water-activated paper tape is often reinforced with multiple layers of polyethylene strands available in various widths and thicknesses.

Once the packaging tape adhesive is activated with water, the adhesive penetrates the carton material and the tape forms a permanent bond with the carton. WAT holds several benefits that other carton-sealing solutions cannot provide.

The tape is strong enough for heavy cartons, versatile enough to seal different-sized cartons, can withstand extreme environments, and has the ability to print your logo directly on the paper packaging tape from the shipping tape dispenser. 

With the ability to choose from a manual tape dispenser or an electric tape dispenser, you'll have the carton sealing methods that best suit your business. 

Download the free ebook below to improve your packaging methods and for tape dispensing packaging solutions.