Advantages of Corrugated vs. Plastic Part 2 – Covenant Packaging

advantages of corrugated vs. plastic

Part 1 of this blog series set the stage for our exploration of one of the most enduring debates of our industry: what are the real advantages of corrugated when compared to plastic?

As we continue the discussion, Part 2 takes a careful look at sustainability. It’s not just critical to the debate over which shipping material reigns supreme, but to the future for generations to come. Read on to learn more.

Is Corrugated or Plastic More Eco-Friendly?

Ah, sustainability. It’s a topic we at Covenant Packaging are truly passionate about, and not just because it has such a lasting, global impact.

The Statistics

The proliferation of plastic can be difficult to comprehend. In the past 10 years, more plastic was produced than in the entire century prior. When we look at the statistics, 40% of the plastic currently used on a global scale is packaging, and a staggering half of it is intended for single-time usage only.

It’s an alarming figure considering there are currently more than 5 trillion – yes, trillion – pieces of plastic polluting global waters. Additionally, according to the EPA, nearly 20% of material in landfills is plastic. This is equivalent to nearly 400 million tons, unable to disintegrate for at least a few hundred more years.

By contract, corrugated packaging has long been hailed as the champion of sustainability in every step of the supply chain. And that’s not just our opinion, it’s a fact, with robust data to support it.

We know that corrugated is made from recycled materials, which is made possible because people actually choose to recycle in. In the US along, the AFPA estimates that 94% of all cardboard is reused. Thanks to its durability, corrugated also has the strength to sustain the recycling process up to 25 times. Compare that to less than 10% of plastics that ever make it to a recycling facility at all, let alone dozens of times over.


Because corrugate is recyclable, new boxes require fewer raw materials to produce. We do still recognize, however, that fewer is not the same as none and inevitably, some new tree matter is required for manufacturing. The good news is that instead of coming from non-renewable fossil fuels like plastics, the wood pulp used in corrugated is harvested from fast-growing and regularly replanted pine trees.

These softwood timbers have long fibers. So what’s the benefit? It’s twofold.

First is that long fibers result in a greater pulp to package ratio, meaning the raw material goes a long way in manufacturing. The second benefit is that the resultant packaging is more tolerant of tension and resistant to bursting while in use. This spells good news for the millions of business owners who depend on corrugated to ship their products.

But the discussion about sustainability doesn’t stop there. We love that corrugated packages are efficient and dependable, but the best part of all is that they continue to serve a purpose long after deliveries have been made.


Another one of the key advantages of corrugated is that it offers unparalleled versatility when it comes to product lifespan, furthering its stronghold as the sustainable packaging choice.

Unlike plastic, corrugated packaging can fully decompose in as little as two months given the right conditions. This minimizes its footprint in landfills. It also makes it an excellent choice for garden enthusiasts, who can repurpose corrugated as a natural filler to compost bins or flower beds.

If you’re looking for something with a bit more staying power, fret not. Corrugate is as durable as it is natural and has potential to be reused for years when stored correctly. And because it can be collapsed flat, it’s footprint is also reduced in your own home.

Plastic is a valuable resource. At times, it can even be the best choice for your business. But when it comes to protecting the earth, plastic pollution isn’t just unnecessary. It’s unsustainable, and the reason corrugate is the victor in the latest chapter of the debate.

Check back soon for More Advantages of Corrugated Packaging vs. Plastic. In Part 3 of the series, we settle the debate once and for all.

Covenant Packaging is your hometown partner for a world-class experience. Contact our team today for a no obligation consultation. We cannot wait to serve you!