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Cardboard shortage forces retailers to box clever

Cardboard shortage forces retailers to box clever

2021-02-01


  It couldn't get hold of any boxes.

The boom in online ordering during the pandemic has also meant rocketing demand for cardboard, as consumers have started taking delivery of everything from bicycles to houseplants.

In the end Jawbone had to delay the launch of online deliveries by three weeks while the company looked for packaging.

They put out a plea to local customers on social media: could you bring a box with you? And founder Ben Hughes went on a mad scramble to find the right kind of double-walled delivery boxes that would protect the cans of beer adequately in the post.

  "I wanted to get the boxes branded. But we haven't been able to. All the suppliers are saying you have to wait a few months for that."

The Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) says while there is always a peak in demand in the run up to Christmas, stockpiling around the Brexit deadline exacerbated the problem. Covid-19 also led to complications with shipping and staffing challenges, which affected the industry on a global basis.

The CPI described it as a "perfect storm" but said new capacity coming on stream would help ease the pressure.

Multinational packaging firm, DS Smith, said the problem lies partly in the recycling chain. Pre-pandemic when most deliveries were made in bulk to High Street shops and restaurants, packaging found its way quickly back into the system via recycling firms.

  Disappointed customers

"All our boxes are made from recycled material," said group chief executive Miles Roberts.

"One of the challenges for us is that, with so much packaging now in peoples homes or in their garages, how do we get that paper back into the recycled network, how we can get it back into our mills so we can convert it into paper and reuse it again?"

Richard Ellison had to explain the problems to some disappointed customers. About 100 customers, expecting a next-day delivery of organic wine from Wanderlust Wine, saw their orders slip by a day or two.


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