Cardboard Engineering – Reducing Environmental Impacts

Cardboard Engineering is the technical use of card to be used in a particular application, for example a box designed specifically for a certain product and its component parts. As packaging designers we have found that cardboard has a wealth of benefits over other materials; the speed to adapt a design, the innovation it takes to fulfill the customers brief and the lower cost of production, not to mention the large range of cardboard substrates available.

The level of innovation achievable in cardboard engineering is really something to get excited about

Top Row left: eco amp –  middle: cardboard speakers –  right: USB Extra in-car cleverness

Bottom Row left: Griffiths, Gibson and Ramsay Productions  – middle: ikea camera & USB plug  –  right: Pak’d iPhone reselling carton

Images from Pinterest

What are the key advantages to using cardboard over other packaging materials for single use packages?


Some facts you should know about recycled cardboard:

· Cardboard is a recyclable material that can be fully branded using lithographic or digital printing methods
· Cardboard recycling saves 24 percent of the total energy needed for virgin cardboard.
· Cardboard recycling lessens the emission of sulfur dioxide and uses less energy than cardboard made from virgin wood.
· Cardboard is used to ship 90 percent of all products in the U.S.
· Most cardboard waste is generated by large corporations and is efficiently recycled.
· Recycled cardboard only takes 75 percent of the energy needed to make new cardboard.
· Recycling 1 ton of cardboard saves 9 cubic yards of landfill space and 46 gallons of oil.
· Cardboard has no toxic constituents and is biodegradable.

The debate of cardboard vs plastic packaging rages on, however in the instance that we are considering it, i.e the bespoke packaging of a product to a consumer, it is extremely unlikely that the packaging will be reused in its original form, therefore an easily recyclable material is preferable. 


The real cost savings come once the product is at the development stage. Cardboard prototypes are quicker and easier to produce compared to packaging solutions made from a variety of man-made materials. The costs associated with the manufacturing process of plastics, such as machine tooling, are considerable when compared to cardboard.


Wikipedia says: Innovation is the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, in-articulated needs, or existing market needs. This is accomplished through more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available.

As illustrated in the pictures above, there really is no end to the creativity cardboard allows.

We define ourselves as innovative cardboard engineers, with the explicit idea of providing our customers exactly what they need to package and sell their products. In our serviced industry, consumer technology, the variety of hardware available requires a range of solutions, all of which we have produced from cardboard. Take our Eco-Grip range for example (see below)

We needed a solution that made posting a single handset as economical as possible whilst still providing protection and conforming to strict Royal Mail guidelines. The solution was the Eco-Grip Burrito, manufactured exclusively from recycled cardboard. 

Another example, by Pak’d, who produced a premium mobile phone/device carton to allow for retail reselling of refurbished mobile devices. Made from a single sheet of cardboard, that also houses the charger and cable, these handset cartons represent an efficient solution which is both a recycled product and recyclable. 

All available at our packaging webshop 


As with the examples we have highlighted, all these packaging solutions have been designed to fulfill a particular brief. When Ikea commissioned the designers to come up with a quirky camera and USB holder I wonder if they knew cardboard would be the perfect medium to achieve their goals, likewise when Pak’d came up with a solution for a box to resell handsets, they needed something exquisite enough to demand the high street price demanded by the retailer.

Naturally, there are costs involved in the manufacturing of cardboard products, but they are considerably lower than those associated with plastics and moldings. 


The design process is as long as it takes to fulfill the brief to the customers satisfaction, however, once the development of the product is under way it is considerably faster and more economical to make cardboard prototypes than those made in other materials.

Cellpak – Environmental Impacts of Product Packaging Assessment (EIPPA)

Cellpak is committed to reducing our, and our customers, environmental impact and are ISO 14001 accredited. As an organisation by becoming more resource aware and efficient, we have made savings by reducing waste and usage. With this in mind we have devised and implemented our own cradle to grave Environmental Impacts Product Packaging Assessment (EIPPA), which we can share with our clients. From our research we have identified key drivers that can be effectively measured against our packaging design projects in the very early stages, allowing ethical principles to become integral to the packaging design processes.​

Please contact us for more information on how our EIPPA can help enhance your next packaging design project.