The Hero of the E-Commerce Boom Is on Your Front Porch

Corrugated Spotlight

The cardboard box has emerged as a sustainable solution that's helping retailers keep pace with soaring digital sales during the Covid-19 pandemic. Here's how.

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In the era of free shipping and two-day delivery, U.S. e-commerce sales were already growing rapidly. Months of quarantine have only accelerated that rise, with 2020 figures forecast to increase substantially.

U.S. retail e-commerce sales (in billions)

As a result, the pandemic has helped drive the trend of e-commerce sales comprising a larger and larger portion of overall retail sales.

E-commerce as % of overall retail sales

Chances are, you are one of those buyers. In the span of just one month, a survey of U.S. adults revealed a huge shift from physical to digital shopping.

% of adults who have shifted from physical stores to online shopping

Groceries are far from the only products that U.S. internet users are having delivered directly to their doors during the pandemic.

% of adults who have bought these products digitally

The trend doesn't only impact giant retailers. Small and medium-sized businesses are also adapting, with nearly two-thirds expecting to lean more heavily on digital sales in the future.

How much will U.S. SMBs rely on e-commerce post-pandemic

Fortunately, research on consumer sentiment shows an enduring preference for the humble cardboard box.

Consumer preference stats

This has resulted in steady growth for the corrugated box industry in the United States.

U.S. corrugated consumption in tons

But the increased use of corrugated boxes hasn't come at the expense of the environment, and that includes strong forest stewardship practices. In fact, the recycling rate of corrugated packaging now sits above 90%, the culmination of decades of sustainability efforts.

Recycling rate of old corrugated containers (OCC)

Learn more about Packaging, as well as the added benefits and solutions from our other industry associations on our Association Partners page.

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