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Author Archives: Scott Hill

  1. 5 Tips to Promote Corrugated Recycling

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    Traditionally, most corrugated cartons are used to ship consumer goods to retailers and other businesses, and many large companies have machines on-site to neatly bale the corrugated for recycling. With the uptick in e-commerce, there is more corrugated than ever arriving at homes across the U.S., putting the onus of recycling on the consumer. In 2020, the recovery rate for old corrugated containers (OCC) was 88.8 percent, down from 92.3 percent in 2019, according to American Forest and Paper Association recycling statistics. With an increased need to recover corrugated, there are some things you can do to encourage recycling.

    Demand for Recycled Corrugated Increases

    In 2018 when China implemented tight contamination restrictions on recycled materials, exports dropped considerably, decreasing demand. However, there is a great demand for recovered OCC and mixed paper domestically, driven by the increased need for packaging. Economists are expecting that demand to continue to rise through 2025.

    With more people working from home and schools being remote in many areas, the amount of recovered office paper and OCC has decreased, putting a considerable strain on mills and driving up costs.

    Consumers Want Sustainable Packaging

    Consumers in recent years have demanded sustainability from the companies they interact with. Smurfit Kappa’s survey found that 61 percent of consumers expect brands to have clear sustainability practices. Another survey reveals the importance of recyclable packaging.

    A 2021 Global Buying Green Report by Trivium Packaging looked at how consumers’ attitudes changed about sustainable packaging and recycling amidst the pandemic. It revealed that less than a third of consumers de-prioritized sustainable packaging, despite the immediate life-altering concerns people were suddenly faced with. In fact, 67 percent find the recyclability of packaging important to them.

    However, the report states that global recycling rates may tell a different story. It seems values don’t always translate into behaviors. Consumers likely to adopt sustainability-oriented values in the U.S. was 50 percent, but behaviors supporting their values were at 40 percent. Encouraging recycling may be the push consumers need to align values with behavior.

    How to Encourage Corrugated Recycling

    Even though you have made an environmentally responsible choice in choosing corrugated packaging and, hopefully, optimizing it to reduce waste, there is still more that can be done to encourage recycling. Here are five tips to help encourage recycling.

    Make it Easy – An Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) study suggests that 66% of Americans would NOT recycle a product if it’s not easy or inconvenient to do so.

    Use Recyclable Materials – Use the maximum amount of recyclable materials as possible. You’re your corrugated boxes designed to eliminate the use of Styrofoam peanuts or other packaging materials that aren’t easily recycled through curbside pick-up.

    Include Recycling Logo – Seeing the recycling logo in a prominent place will inform consumers of the packaging’s recyclability or remind them to recycle the packaging.

    Include Recycling Details – If you are using multiple types of materials in your packaging, make it clear which can or cannot be recycled. Consider putting a note in the box with the product to encourage recycling.

    Advertise Your Efforts – Let your customers know about your sustainability efforts. Include in your sales and marketing materials that you use corrugated boxes made with recycled materials and encourage recycling.

     Progress Container is Dedicated to Sustainability

    Providing sustainable packaging is one of our core values. We demonstrate this in several ways.

    • We are certified to the fiber sourcing standard set by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) and the ISO 14001 Environmental Certification
    • We require our sheet suppliers to be certified under the SFI or have other certifications adhering to the guidelines promoting sustainable forestry processes
    • We minimize waste and unneeded packaging in our designs
    • We maximize the use of recycled mediums and liners
    • Through SKU management, we can reduce waste and product to only what a client needs
    • We stay current on the latest research on packaging sustainability to stay up to date on the current best practices.

    Contact us to learn more.

  2. Choosing the Ideal Corrugated Flute Size

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    When packaging your product, the size and shape of your corrugated box are not the only considerations. Corrugated flute size also plays an essential role in protecting your product. Using the wrong flute size could leave your product vulnerable to damage or, conversely, use more material than is needed creating heavier, bulkier packaging or impacting the print quality. Some flutes provide greater vertical compression strength and cushioning, while others provide enhanced structural and printing capabilities. Understanding flutes will help you ensure the right ones are being used for your packaging.

    Corrugated Flutes Explained

    Corrugated board is made up of linerboard (the outside sheets) and the medium, which is the inner wavy sheet known as fluting. When combined with the linerboard and adhesive, it’s those rigid arches that allow the corrugated board to sustain a lot of weight when it is applied perpendicularly to the flute columns. Cushioning protection is provided by the space within the flutes. Understandably, larger flutes will provide greater strength. Small flutes, which are closer together, have the benefit of delivering better printability and foldability.

    Understanding Corrugated Flute Profiles

    While flute measurements can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, they are generally close. There are five common flute types: A, B, C, E, F.

    It should be noted that the letter designation was assigned based on the order they were created and not the flute size.

    Flutes Per Foot

    Flute Height (in)


    32-38 0.184


    44-52 0.097
    C-Flute 36-41


    E-Flute 74-98


    F-Flute 124-128



    A-flute is the original flute design, and it is also the thickest. It provides the most cushioning and vertical compression strength and is used for transit protection. However, the far spacing of the flutes makes them unsuitable for intricate packaging designs.


    B-flute has more flutes per foot than A-flute, but the flutes have a shorter height, giving it excellent puncture and crush-resistant properties. The closer flutes make it smoother for printing. This flute was developed for shipping canned goods, but it is also used for inner packing, such as pads and dividers.


    C-flute is the most common corrugated fluting for shipping boxes. It is thicker than B- flute, and it provides good crush resistance and stacking strength as well as acceptable print characteristics.


    E-flute and F-flute are considered micro-flutes because of their thinness. E-flute has excellent crush resistance, and because of its relatively flat surface, high-quality printing is possible. E-flute is now being used more to replace retail folding cartons, which offer very little protection. E-flute’s crush resistance and printability make it a great choice to protect the product and deliver a blank canvas for exceptional branding opportunities. Although E-flute can reduce outer box dimensions, it doesn’t offer puncture protection, so it is not recommended for heavy objects.


    F-flute was developed for small retail packaging and is sometimes used interchangeably with E-flute. It is half the thickness of E-Flute but has greater flute density – about 30 percent more flutes per foot and provides an excellent surface for printing applications. F-flute is often used for fast food clamshell packaging as it provides thermal qualities keeping food hot.

    Still Not Sure What Corrugated Flute Your Product Needs?

    We have in-house structural and graphic designers that will collaborate with you to ensure your packaging meets your expectations. With over 100 years of combined experience, our structural designers have experience working with various materials and comprehensively understanding in-store packaging requirements for major retail channels, consumer-product relationships, and supply chain factors. Our in-house graphic designers work closely with the structural design team to create and adapt branded visual packaging solutions.

    Contact us to learn more.


  3. Need an Alternative to Folding Cartons for Fragile Items?

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    Corrugated board is one of the most versatile packaging materials available. It can be adapted to fit almost any shape and protect a wide range of products, from small, fragile items to large, heavy items. It can be manufactured with high crush resistance, high-quality printing, or a low profile to reduce storage. Thinner corrugated board can be used as an alternative to folding cartons to add protective cushioning to fragile items without sacrificing print quality. The arc-shaped flutes are one of the reasons corrugated packaging is so versatile. 

    The Role of Flutes 

    Single wall corrugated is comprised of two sheets of linerboard interleaved with one corrugated medium (flutes). Stronger double and triple wall corrugated have additional layers of flutes and linerboards interweaved. Double wall has three linerboards and two corrugated mediums, and triple wall has four linerboards and three corrugated mediums. Double and triple wall corrugated boards may use a variation of flute sizes used depending on the application.  

    The flutes provide strength and cushioning for the box. The flutes form rigid arches, and when combined with the linerboard and adhesive, they are capable of sustaining a lot of weight when applied perpendicular to the columns. The space within the flutes adds a layer of cushioning protection. Larger flutes provide greater strength, and small flutes have better printability and foldability. 

    In recent years there has been an increase in the number of flute profiles available, and the flute measurements can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.  The five most common flute types are: A, B, C, E, and F.  The letter designation was assigned based on the order they were created and not the flute size, which can be confusing when trying to figure out which you need. 

    •  A flute was the original flute profile and has about 33 flutes per foot. 
    • B flute was developed for canned goods, which wouldn’t require boxes that supported much load. It has 47 flutes per foot 
    • C flute was developed as an all-purpose flute with about 38 flutes per foot. 
    • E flute was developed next and has about 90 flutes per foot 
    • F flute was developed for small folding cartons and has 125 flutes per box 

    E Flutes and F Flutes as Alternatives to Folding Cartons 

    E-flute has on average 90 flutes per foot, and F-flute has on average 125, making them both an ideal choice for high-quality direct-print or litho-laminated graphics. Both are an eco-friendly replacement to folding cartons – sometimes called paperboard boxes or chipboard boxes.  

    Folding cartons are intended to hold products and provide a surface to showcase graphics; however, they offer little protection. Fragile products such as cosmetics, glass, ceramics, and other delicate products need additional protection without having additional weight, and this is where E flutes shine. The thinness of these mini flutes allows them to provide strength while reducing the fibers used.  

    However, F flute is very thin – only about 1/32 in. It is often used as clamshell packaging for fast-food restaurants and is very much a niche product. If you’ve gotten your cheeseburger in one, you will understand it’s not going to provide much protection. E flute, is the most used micro flute and is readily available vs the niche of F flute. It is still thin at 1/16 inch but has superior crush resistance and a flat surface. These characteristics – thin profile, cushioning properties, and flat surface – make E flute an excellent alternative for conventional folding cartons when you need lightweight packaging, protection, and an excellent printing surface. 

    When you use E flute as an alternative to folding cartons, you don’t have to sacrifice luxury. For premium printing quality, a coated white liner can be used that allows a shiny finish using direct print, and because it is white, colors appear more vibrant.  

    Progress Container Your Packaging Partner 

    Not sure which is best for your project. Progress can help. We were one of the first in the industry to have an in-house structural design department, and our team has more than 75 years of combined experience. No matter what your packaging challenge is, we have the knowledge and capabilities to create packaging that will not only protect but will get noticed. Contact us to get started.  

  4. What is the Best Printing Process for Corrugated?

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    Custom packaging and point-of-purchase displays can amplify your brand and help to drive sales with the right graphic elements. How those graphics are executed matters. Using the appropriate printing processes can bring your branded message to life. However, not all printing processes will provide the same results. Choosing the best printing process will depend on your needs and your budget.

    There are three ways to add graphic elements to corrugated: direct print, litho mount, and litho lamination.

    • Direct print is done by printing directly on the corrugated board using flexographic or digital printing. The sheet is die-cut and glued, if necessary, to complete the box or display
    • Litho mount involves printing on a label mounted on double-faced corrugated. The sheet is die-cut and glued, if necessary, to complete the box or display
    • Litho Lamination is where a top sheet is printed and applied to open flutes of single face corrugated. The sheet is die-cut and glued, if necessary, to complete the box or display

    It is best to work with your packaging and display vendor to help determine which application is best for your project. There are many variables, including the level of detail required, run size, design change frequency, colors, and budget.

    Printing Processes Explained

    Below are descriptions of Flexographic, Digital, Litho Mount, and Litho Lamination printing processes.

    Flexographic printing

    Flexographic printing, sometimes referred to as flexo or relief printing, gets its name from the thin, flexible relief plates used in the printing process. Each color requires its own plate. The plates are wrapped around a cylinder, and ink is transferred directly to the substrate. Flexography is a less expensive method for printing and the most common.

    • Works best for non-photo quality printing; although new technology is changing this
    • Prints on both corrugated and liners
    • Can be used on both shipping boxes and retail packaging
    • Popular for large orders
    • Less expensive than litho-laminated, but design changes require new plates, which can get expensive.

    Digital printing

    Digital presses accept files directly from the computer, eliminating the need for expensive plates, and set up is virtually non-existent.

    • Offers higher-quality graphics than flexo
    • Ideal for lower volumes
    • Ideal for variable print or if designs change frequently

    Litho Mount Printing

    Litho mount uses lithographic printing (also called offset printing) to print onto litho labels (typically an 80# coated paper), which are then mounted on double-faced corrugated. Litho printing is a process where the image area is oil receptive and the non-image area is water receptive to keep ink only where it is supposed to be. Ink is transferred from the lithographic plate to a rubber cylinder, which, in turn, transfers the ink to the substrate.

    • Excellent print quality creates a photo-quality image
    • Cost-effective for high volumes
    • Excellent for foil stamping, embossing, spot gloss, or other embellishments
    • Labels can cover the whole box or cover only a portion of the box as a spot label.
    • If artwork changes, plates have to be remade

    Litho Lamination Printing

    Litho-lamination also uses lithographic printing. However, this process uses less paper because a top sheet is printed with the graphic design and applied to a single face corrugated sheet.  Single face corrugated is made up of one linerboard with a fluted medium.

    • Excellent print quality creates a photo-quality image
    • Uses less paper, so it produces a lighter box than litho mount printing
    • Cost-effective for high volumes
    • Excellent for foil stamping, embossing, spot gloss, or other embellishments
    • If artwork changes, plates have to be remade

    Progress Container’s State-of-the-Art Investments Gives You Higher Quality Print at More Affordable Prices

    Our Designers are experienced in flexo, litho, and digital print and can work with you to find the best solution for your project. Our dedication to investing in state-of-the-art equipment and intimate knowledge of print processes allow us to help guide you to the appropriate solution to meet your product branding needs.  Our newest Gopfert RDC Evolution HBL 8-color press can print inside and outside in one pass and provides the highest quality corrugated flexo direct print in the world. Its stunning print quality has allowed us to move some of our customers from more expensive 3-step litho lamination to direct print.

    Contact us to get started on your next project.

  5. Five Things Your Corrugated Graphic Designer Needs You To Know

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    You’ve put an order in for your corrugated boxes, and they have asked you to provide print-ready graphics. Before you pull your logo from your website to send to the graphic designer, here are five things the graphic designer would like you to know that will make the printing process much smoother. You will be happier with the results, too.

    Know Your Resolution

    One of the top challenges that graphic designers face is getting artwork with a high enough resolution to print correctly. The resolution controls how much detail is available in the artwork. The higher the resolution, the greater the detail. For printing, the resolution is measured in dots per inch or DPI.  The ideal resolution is 300 dpi at 100% of the final output size.

    The size of the graphic must be appropriate for the application, as well. If you have a tiny raster image, even if it is 300 dpi, it will not print well blown up for a large display.

    Depending on whether your printer uses flexography printed directly on corrugated or litho-laminated that will be mounted to the corrugated, there may be some leeway in dpi requirements. Line screen, which is expressed in lines per inch, will dictate the dpi.  For example, flexography printed on corrugated has a lower line screen of about 85, so you may be able to get away with 150 dpi. In contrast to litho-laminated line screen of 150 to 200 and requires 300 dpi graphics.

    A lot more goes into the type of printing used beyond the dpi of your graphics, such as quantity, size of the order, and whether it is a high-end product that requires 4-color print. Working closely with your corrugated manufacture will ensure you have the most cost-effective solution that meets your needs.

    Understand File Types

    There are two types of graphic files: raster and vector. Raster or bitmap files are what you see when you take a digital photograph. They are made up of thousands of tiny pixels. If you enlarge the image, you can start to see all pixels that make up the image. They are saved with file extensions such as .jpg, .png, .gif, .tiff, and .psd.

    A vector file is a graphic based on mathematical curves and paths. Because of this, a vector graphic can be scaled and resized without losing resolution. Vector files are usually saved as native files from the program used to create the file, such as ai (Adobe Illustrator), svg, or eps.

    The best file types for artwork containing logos or drawings are vector files. It gives the graphic designer more control over scaling it to provide the best outcome. Vector files are needed for printing on corrugated.

    Specify Colors Correctly

    When you hand off your print-ready files to the graphic designer, they will want to know if your artwork was designed with spot colors and/or CMYK.  The type of printing process used will dictate the color process needed.

    Spot colors are individual colors and are not mixed with other colors, making them more consistent from run to run. The Pantone matching system (PMS) is the standard spot color system used in the US. You may have heard colors referred to as Pantone colors or PMS colors.

    CMYK, an acronym for cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black), uses a mixture of these colors to create a large variety of colors.

    If your brand has a specific blue, for example, you will want to provide the spot color to the graphic designer. Some colors can be recreated with CMYK for litho, but not all, and for color consistency, using a spot color is best. Depending on your project, a combination of Spot and CMYK colors can be used.

    Provide Fonts

    When submitting your vector graphics, make sure that your fonts and images are included. Software, like Adobe Illustrator, creates links to fonts and images unless explicitly told to embed them. Your graphic designer may have standard fonts, but they won’t have any unique fonts that you may use. You can also turn your font into artwork that will create an outline of the font, and then the printer does not require the actual font.

    Fonts don’t need to be supplied for raster images with fonts embedded when the artwork is being printed litho.

    Ask for Specifications

    The most important thing you can do when you speak to your corrugated supplier about your project is getting the artwork specifications. They can give you a structure to put the artwork on. When you return it to them, they will do what is called pre-flighting. Pre-flighting ensures that the files are present, formatted correctly, and of the correct type for the print job. They will look at font sizes, reverse out type, image sizes, how close things are to scores and cuts, etc. If there are issues, they will make changes and send them for your approval.

  6. Where Do I Start When Packaging My Product?

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    From primary to tertiary packaging, all aspects of your product’s packaging should be designed with purpose. It not only protects your product, but it also acts as a tangible first impression of your brand. Ensuring you have the right packaging solution is critical for success. Below are five things to consider when packaging your product.


    Since the product is the primary purpose of the packaging, building your solution around the packaging needs should be the first consideration. Things to consider include:

    • Type of packaging – do you need primary, secondary, tertiary, or all?
    • Physical characteristics – size, weight, fragility
    • Cost – higher-end products may require special considerations for protection or branding (e.g., graphics, material quality)
    • Seasonality (e.g., holidays, trends)


    Know your customer. Are they a consumer, retailer, manufacturer, or combination? What are their expectations and desires when it comes to packaging? Some things to consider that may be important to your customer include:

    • Physical design (e.g., easy-open design, box style, product configuration within)
    • Graphic design (e.g., nostalgic, modern, industrial, plain)
    • Environmental Impact (e.g., renewable materials, recyclable, reduced materials)
    • Customer experience

    Packaging Facility

    How will the packaging be used within your facility? Will they be packed by hand? Will you use a case erector or other automation? When designing your packaging, consider employee ergonomic requirements and the limitations of your equipment.


    How you distribute the product matters. Your packaging may need to conform to external requirements or may offer additional branding opportunities.

    • E-commerce platforms – Amazon, for example, has specific packaging requirements.
    • Retail – Retailers may have specific requirements; the type of store (e.g., high-end retail or discount stores) may impact your packaging.
    • Direct-to-consumer – This provides an opportunity to have cohesive branding across primary, secondary, and tertiary packaging.

    Product handling must be considered. Do you have pallet requirements (number of boxes on a pallet, maximum weight, maximum height)? Is your packaging optimized to prevent damage while reducing materials and costs?


    Prepare your budget beforehand so you have an idea of the costs involved. Consider all your packaging materials, including dunnage, pallet wrap, labels, as well as any tooling you may be responsible for. You may have grand ideas but may need to make concessions if you don’t have the budget. Working with a supplier experienced with creative packaging ideas may help you get closer to your dream without breaking your budget.

    Choosing A Packaging Supplier

    Packaging plays a significant role in your marketing efforts and your supply chain. It is essential to partner with a packaging manufacturer that can help you meet your objectives. For success in meeting your goals, look for the following attributes when choosing a packaging supplier:

    • Communication – Communication is vital in all relationships, and listening is the most critical component. Your vendor should ask what your company’s goals are and respond in a way that demonstrates that they have listened.
    • Stability – Look for a supplier that has been around for some time and is economically stable.
    • Experience – Your supplier should have insight into current industry or retail trends, the ability to problem solve, and an in-depth understanding of design, packaging, and logistics.
    • Reliability – Investigate on-time delivery and service. Running out of packaging supplies could be costly.
    • Quality – Choose a vendor who is ISO certified with strong quality standards. Try to avoid vendors who do not have a quality system in place. Due diligence can help you avoid issues with print, misregistration, poor slotting, inferior or false scoring, or excessive glue, which can create delays, cost you money, and negatively impact your brand.

    Progress Container and Display

    Established in 1971, we have been executing packaging solutions consistently and on time without fail.  With an in-house structural design department with more than 75 years of combined experience, we have the knowledge and capabilities to create packaging that will not only protect your product but will drive sales.

    Whether you need retail packaging, point of purchase displays, branded shipping packaging, or all of the above, Progress Container can deliver with attention-grabbing graphics and economically responsible high-quality packaging solutions. Contact us to get started.


  7. How Environmental Conditions Impact Corrugated Boxes

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    Storage and transportation of corrugated boxes can expose them to varying and often fluctuating environmental conditions. This can negatively impact the corrugated material’s moisture content and the effectiveness of the glue used in manufacturing. Moisture and temperature are important considerations when discussing the strength and longevity of corrugated boxes.

    Moisture Content Takes a Leading Role

    Water is used in the corrugated board production and aids in creating the liner board, forming the flute structure, and as part of the starch adhesive that combines them. However, once the corrugated is manufactured, moisture regulation is critical, so the corrugated board is dried to achieve a moisture content of 10-12% to optimize it for strength and prevent box manufacturing issues, such as:

    • Cracking
    • Softening of the board
    • Poor creasing
    • Delamination
    • Printing difficulties

    Maintaining the moisture content of the corrugated box plays a critical role in its performance.

    Relative Humidity Impacts Moisture Content

    Once a box is formed, both before and after it is filled with product, maintaining its moisture content is critical to maintaining the box’s compression strength.

    • Too dry, and the corrugated and glue can crack.
    • Too much moisture can lead to weakened cellulose fibers, delamination, and weakened glue bonds.

    Both cases can lead to failure. The moisture content of the box is determined by environmental relative humidity.

    Relative humidity is the amount of water the air can hold at a given temperature, so there is a direct relationship between temperature and humidity. Colder temperatures hold less moisture. This is why dew forms when the temperature drops. During the day, the warmer air picks up moisture, and as the air cools in the evening, it releases it as dew.

    The moisture content of corrugated materials prefers a state of equilibrium with atmospheric humidity. When relative humidity increases, the corrugated board will pull moisture from the air until it reaches the same moisture content level. If the relative humidity is low, the corrugated will give up moisture.

    Impact of Storage and Transportation

    Storage and transportation can expose corrugated boxes to fluctuations in temperature and humidity. Improper and fluctuations in relative humidity can be seen in:

    • Arid or humid geographical location
    • Seasonal fluctuations
    • Daily changes over time

    These can result in the box structure breaking down, leading to a reduction in strength and, eventually, failure.

    The ideal temperature and humidity are 72° F, 50% RH1

    Boxes under stress from a load, such as stacked on a pallet, are even further impacted by increased humidity. Fluctuations in humidity can impact it even further. Studies have shown that corrugated under a constant load with cycled moisture has experienced accelerated creep or deformation of the material, leading to premature box failure.

    Although it would be difficult to calculate the reduction of strength under fluctuating conditions over time, the chart below (Protective Packaging for Distribution, 2010) is used to determine the compression strength loss over time under various environmental conditions. The multipliers can be used to calculate compression loss for specific situations.

    Environmental Factors
      Compression Loss Multipliers
    Storage time under load 10 days – 37 percent loss 0.63
    30 days – 40 percent loss 0.60
    90 days – 45 percent loss 0.55
    180 days – 50 percent loss 0.50
    Relative humidity, under load (cyclical RH variation further increases compressive loss) 50 % RH – 0 percent loss 1.00
    60 % RH – 10 percent loss 0.90
    70 % RH – 20 percent loss 0.80
    80 % RH – 32 percent loss 0.68
    90 % RH – 52 percent loss 0.48
    100% RH – 85 Percent Loss 0.15
     Best Case  Worst Case
    Pallet Patterns
         Columnar, Aligned Up to 8 percent loss 1.00 0.92
         Columnar, misaligned 10-15 percent loss 0.90 0.85
         Interlocked 40-60 percent loss 0.60 0.40
    Overhang 20-40 percent loss 0.80 0.60
    Pallet deck board gap 10-25 percent loss 0.90 0.75
    Excessive handling 10-40 percent loss 0.90 0.60

    Contact Progress to Ensure Structural Integrity in Any Environment

    Our team has worked with countless companies whose boxes have faced just about every environmental condition imaginable. We have the experience to ask the right questions to ensure the boxes we provide you will meet your product’s needs and will remain structurally sound. Contact us to get started on your next project.


    1. AICC
  8. Mullen Burst Test vs. Edge Crush Test (ECT)

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    Optimizing your corrugated boxes to find the perfect balance between protecting your product and minimizing excess packaging (i.e., excess costs and environmental impact) is a science. The science involves using empirical data from testing the corrugated board that makes up the box. Two standard tests are the Mullen Test and ECT or edge crush test.

    Mullen Test

    The Mullen test is named for the instrument used to conduct the test, which was engineered by John W. Mullen in 1887 and sold to the Parsen Paper company. Although using corrugated for boxes didn’t become mainstream until the early 20th century, the Mullen burst test would become the method for testing corrugated strength for a while.

    Why is it used?

    • The Mullen test is indirectly related to a carton’s ability to withstand internal or external pressure. For example, an item might puncture the box, or a sharp edge of the product might protrude from the box during handling.
    • The Mullen burst test is used if boxes will experience rough handling, are manually taken off and put on trucks, or may move around during shipping. Most importantly, the Mullen test is used when burst is the primary concern for performance in the supply chain.

    How is corrugated tested?

    The testing instrument has two platens with circular openings in their centers. A sample of the corrugated board is clamped between them.  A diaphragm is hydraulically expanded, distending through the lower platen and pressing on the sample until it bursts. The maximum hydraulic pressure reached when the sample ruptures is recorded as its bursting strength and is measured in pounds.

    Edge Crush Test (ECT)

    In the 1990s, corrugators started using a higher percentage of recycled material. The fibers of virgin paper are long and bind together, giving it more strength than the shorter fibers of recycled material. It was noticed that although the burst test results were lower, boxes were still being stacked with no noticeable issues. The edge crush test became an industry standard for strength when stack is the primary concern for performance in the supply chain.

    Minimum basis weight is required for the burst test, but ECT does not have this requirement, so lighter weight materials can be used while still providing a higher crush resistance. When comparing two cartons – one burst test rated and one ECT rated, the ECT box will weigh less.

    Why is it used?

    • ECT is directly related to stacking strength and how much weight can be applied to the corrugated per square inch.
    • This test helps determine if a box can withstand other loaded boxes’ weight when shipped on a pallet.

    How is corrugated tested?  

    A sample of corrugated board is placed on edge (flutes perpendicular) between to platens, and force is applied until the sample buckles. The results are recorded in pounds per lineal inch of load-bearing edge but represented as ECT. For example, you may see a box rated as 40 ECT.

    Contact Progress Container & Display for all your corrugated needs

    Whether you are shipping through e-commerce or have large pallets of product, the best way to ensure your packaging is optimized for your product is to work with professionals that have the expertise to ensure your product makes it to its destination safely. With an in-house structural design department and more than 45 years of experience, we have the knowledge and capabilities to ensure your product arrives as intended and help you reduce your total costs of packaging. Call us today to get started.

  9. Companies React to Consumers’ Need for Sustainable Packaging

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    For years, sustainability has been a big buzz word that was casually mentioned on websites and pushed out on social media, but now companies are increasingly moving from talking to doing. Finding the balance between profits and sustainability is critical, and business executives are finding the two goals are not mutually exclusive. One sustainability survey revealed that eighty-two percent of business leaders and senior executives who responded felt that sustainability is a long-term investment rather than a cost, and eighty-three percent described it as a business opportunity to be exploited.

    Companies Respond but Say Packaging is a Challenge

    Companies are responding by looking at how things they do are impacting the environment and how they can contribute through the use of sustainable products and packaging. Sustainability is driving R&D for thirty-seven percent of the respondents and new product development for thirty-three percent, but packaging was cited by more than two-thirds as being the most challenging sustainability practice to implement.

    Consumers Demand Sustainability

    The pressure to implement sustainable practices and deliver sustainable packaging is being driven by consumers. Consumers were also surveyed and responded with the following:

    • Sixty-one percent expect brands they buy to have clear sustainability practices.
    • Half of the consumers reported that in the past six months they’ve purchased a product specifically because it had reusable or biodegradable packaging.
    • Forty-five percent have refused to purchase a product that had unsustainable packaging.
    • Slightly more than half have paid more for a sustainably sourced product or service, while only twenty-two percent felt that companies should cover any additional costs associated with producing sustainable products.

    Corrugated is the Ultimate in Sustainable Packaging

    The Sustainable Packaging Coalition has established international guidelines and defined sustainable packaging as meeting the following criteria:

    • Is beneficial, safe & healthy for individuals and communities throughout its life cycle
    • Meets market criteria for performance and cost
    • Is sourced, manufactured, transported, and recycled using renewable energy
    • Optimizes the use of renewable or recycled source materials
    • Is manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices
    • Is made from materials healthy throughout the life cycle
    • Is physically designed to optimize materials and energy
    • Is effectively recovered and utilized in biological and/or industrial closed-loop cycles

    Sustainable packaging considers the packaging’s full life cycle, including the energy and processes used its manufacture end-of-life recovery.

    Companies can look to corrugated for help with the sustainable packaging challenges they face. Corrugated packaging easily meets the established criteria when you work with a packaging supplier who recognizes the importance of implementing these guidelines from cradle to cradle.

    More companies are beginning to realize that moving from less sustainable packaging options to corrugated packaging can positively impact their triple bottom line – people, planet, and profits.

    Progress Container is Dedicated to Sustainability

    Sustainability has been part of our vision and mission statement for almost 50 years.

    We demonstrate this:

    • Through our certification to the fiber sourcing standard set by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) and the ISO 14001 Environmental Certification
    • By ensuring our sheet suppliers are certified under the SFI or other certifications adhering to the guidelines promoting sustainable forestry processes
    • By minimizing waste and unneeded packaging in our designs
    • Maximizing the use of recycled mediums and liners

    Contact Progress Container to learn more.

  10. Driving Sales With Corrugated Displays

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    Corrugated is one of the most versatile materials when it comes to product protection and presentation. From shipping boxes to specialty packaging and displays, corrugated is the number one choice of materials. With the right partner, corrugated has the ability to help drive sales. Below are three ways that corrugated can be used to increase your bottom line.

    Graphic Design

    Corrugated packaging provides a blank canvas for your brand to showcase its artwork and grab a customer’s attention. Research has shown that first impressions take only 7 seconds. With just seconds to make an impression and get the sale, an appealing design can increase product turns and strengthen brand equity. With corrugated, you have many printing options available to you, including:

    • Direct flexographic printing
    • Litho labeling
    • Digital printing

    Your brand is represented by your product packaging. Choosing the right printing option will allow you to appropriately reflect your brand.

    Structural Design

    Corrugated packaging that is designed properly will maintain its integrity, and its contents will arrive to the end-user exactly as intended. Happy customers mean repeat sales. Corrugated provides tremendous flexibility in the design of packaging and displays. The packaging or display can be customized to the product and exceed your customers’ expectations. Unique packaging configurations for consumer products can increase the pleasure of the unboxing experience. POP displays that stand out from the ordinary will capture your customer’s attention and wallet.


    Corrugated is a sustainable choice. It is recyclable and made from recycled materials. It is from a renewable resource. It is reusable, and
    it is compostable. Many consumers are looking to reduce the amount of plastics they consume and look for brands that share this value. By working with the right packaging partner, you can take it a step further by optimizing your packaging and reducing materials used without compromising the integrity of the packaging. When you support the values of your customers, you can see an increase in repeat purchases.

    Progress Container Can Help You Reduce Your Total Packaging Costs

    With an in-house structural design department and more than 45 years of experience, we have the knowledge and capabilities to create packaging that drives sales.

    Whether you need retail packaging, point of purchase displays, branded shipping packaging or all of the above, Progress Container can deliver with attention-grabbing graphics and economically responsible packaging solutions.

    Contact Progress Container to learn more.