Thanks to the ongoing surge in home deliveries driven by the pandemic and the world’s lockdown measures, cardboard boxes could very well be this year’s toilet paper.
According to the Royal Mail, it is estimated that some 200 million more parcels went through the postal and courier system over the course of 2020, with the number set to remain steady amid lockdown measures still in place this year.
While concern was raised over the workforce in place to handle increased deliveries over the Christmas shopping period of last year, it was perhaps the present shortage of cardboard boxes for shipping and mailing that should have been a bigger focus.
According to new reports, retailers, supermarkets, and firms across the UK are now facing a cardboard shortage, leaving some businesses unable to make their deliveries, while others – supermarkets such as Asda included – who have resorted to plastic.
Taking to Twitter recently in response to a customer query as to why their eggs had arrived in a plastic box, Asda said that “there is a shortage of the pulp required for cardboard boxes across all industries.”
Fingers have been pointed at numerous roots of the current cardboard shortage, including Brexit which has led to problems transporting material to make the boxes across the Channel, and staff shortages across recycling collection services that have led to build-ups of household recycling.
In fact, in a statement addressing the current position of the corrugated cardboard industry, the Confederation of Paper Industries has said that demand for cardboard boxes from online retailers is ‘five years ahead of where it had expected to be before the pandemic.’
“Production of corrugated cardboard has always run efficiently and effectively, but we are now facing a combination of market conditions that are proving extremely challenging, especially at a time when demand for sustainable packaging materials like corrugated cardboard are so high,” said the CPI.
“Clearly the pandemic has significantly changed society, not least in its approach to shopping. We have seen dramatic increases in online ordering, with the consequent demand for corrugated packaging that is required to ensure that goods are protected.
“The pandemic has also had an impact on global trade, with an imbalance in containers around the world, which has had an impact on transport logistics.
“As a result of all of these developments lead times for the industry have risen dramatically, increasing from days to weeks. Some customers have been unable to source sufficient boxes.”
The CPI has even suggested that some UK business had been stockpiling their packaging solutions in the lead up to the end of the Brexit Transition Period on December 31st last year.
It has stated that it expect to see border delays due to Brexit drop away as the country settles into its new arrangement, and that plans are now in place to ‘bring the market back into balance.’