You’ve seen it around, but how much do you know about corrugated plastic?

 

We’ve been introducing you to some different materials in our last few posts, and this time we wanted to talk about something you’ve probably seen, but you may not have thought much about. It’s called corrugated plastic, although it’s also known as fluted plastic, or even by the brand name corro- plast in some circles. Have you ever seen those reusable plastic tubs at the Post Office? Those are made of fluted plastic. It essentially looks just like cardboard, with a wavy interior supporting thin, flat surfaces on the outside. In the packaging industry, fluted plastic has been a pretty neat innovation that has opened up a number of different options for manufacturers. For WIC, it’s been a part of our custom-packaging toolkit for about 15 years. It’s waterproof, easy to store, and can be formed and cut using all the same machines we use to shape traditional corrugated paper. It’s hard not to love!

 

What are some good applications for fluted plastic?

 

Where corrugated plastic excels is in its durability. It’s got pretty much the same weight and dimensions as corrugated paper (more or less), but it can be used and reused far more than its paper-based counterpart. While it’s more expensive than paper, if you have a container that’s supposed to be returnable, making it out of corrugated plastic could give that container the ability to withstand multiple turns before it would have to be replaced. How many cardboard boxes would you trust with multiple round-trips? How many corrugated paper boxes don’t make it through one trip? It’s also remarkably versatile, going places where paper-based fiberboard just isn’t an option. Corrugated plastic can be used to create reels for fiber-optics – an application where paper-based materials just wouldn’t work due to dusting and other debris. Another thing corrugated plastic can do that paper can’t is a quick washing. In some circumstances, we’ve had customers who were able to take their plastic boxes, knock them down flat, give them a quick washing with a garden hose and then store them out of the way until their next use. You can imagine how well a traditional box would fare in this situation.

 

Never let them see you sweat

 

This brings us to one of the huge benefits of corrugated plastic - its resistance to moisture. Studies have shown that over the space of 6 months, a traditional corrugated paper box can lose over half of its strength simply by absorbing the moisture in the air. In humid climates near the ocean, or in unconditioned warehouses, you can expect a paper box to have a significantly shortened shelf life. Corrugated plastic just doesn’t have that issue. It can handle storage in a Houston warehouse, life on a boat across the ocean, or delivery to Duluth in a January blizzard. For most people, the downside of corrugated plastic is the cost. It’s more expensive than corrugated paper, and for a lot of single-use solutions, it might not make financial sense. The cost-savings of corrugated plastic can be realized when a container is re-used, or at least requires a longer useful life. Buying a load of corrugated boxes to last a year might have a cheaper per-box cost, but if you can spend the same amount of money for a reusable box solution made from corrugated plastic, you have the possibility of cost-savings from reduced storage or damage-related expenses. What do you think? Would it be possible for corrugated plastic to find a home in your operation? If you’re interested in exploring the options, get in touch with us and let’s see what the next generation of packaging might look like for you!