Everything You Need to Know About the Global Corrugated Cardboard Shortage

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact consumer behaviour and international shipping, a new shortage is causing ripples across the globe. This time, the shortage is in corrugated cardboard.

Here’s what’s causing the shortage, how it might affect your business, and what you can do to mitigate its impact.

What’s Causing the Cardboard Shortage?

A number of factors have contributed to the perfect storm that’s currently leading the world toward a cardboard shortage.

First, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a massive spike in e-commerce. People around the globe began shopping increasingly online, resulting in an unprecedented demand for corrugated cardboard.

In fact, U.S. producers alone churned out nearly 407 billion square feet of corrugated product in 2020 alone.

But it isn’t just the new demand that’s causing issues: consumer recycling habits have meant that cardboard is being returned into the system less effectively than it was when the bulk of all product orders were delivered in bulk to brick-and-mortar stores.

Secondly, the cost of raw materials used to produce cardboard, including pulp and containerboard, have been steadily on the rise.

Lastly, the winter storms in the United States this year caused production cessations to the tune of 145,000 tons of containerboard.

What’s the Outcome of the Cardboard Shortage?

With corrugated products becoming less available for the time being–some suppliers are reporting lead times of up to three months for cardboard products–many retailers and brand owners have been shifting towards poly mailers as a temporary solution.

But, on the bright side, many organizations are working closely with their suppliers to find temporary replacement products that still support their goals of being environmentally-conscious.

Regardless, the cardboard shortage has caused significant challenges for many businesses.

What Can You Do to Reduce the Impact of the Cardboard Shortage on Your Business?

Looking ahead at the final quarter of 2021, there are a few things you can do to mitigate the impact of the cardboard shortage on your business.

First, try to avoid being tempted by single-use plastic alternatives. Work with your suppliers to find solutions that take a minimal toll on the environment.

Secondly, make sure to place orders for any corrugated products well in advance and consider purchasing overstock so you have extra on-hand if needed. You can also explore options like our innovative warehousing solutions that let you order large quantities of product, benefit from economies of scale, and store overstock in our warehouses so that you have on-demand access to your cardboard products when you need them.

All signs point to the cardboard shortage coming to an end eventually. But, in the meantime, it’s wise to take precautions to minimize its impact on your business.

If you have questions about our warehousing solutions, get in touch with us today. Our experts are here to answer any questions you might have.