How Much Water and Energy Does an Ecobox Save?

Dec 5, 2018

Our Ecoboxes are sturdy plastic moving boxes, ideal for use when moving home or offices. They’re sealable, stackable and fully recyclable.

So how do Ecoboxes compare to cardboard moving boxes – and which are the most environmentally responsible choice?

How do Ecoboxes compare to cardboard boxes?

Ecoboxes are made of strong plastic. They can be reused up to 400 times each and the plastic is fully recyclable. We offer Ecoboxes for rent only.

Cardboard boxes are, of course, made from trees. They’re recyclable and biodegradable, but their potential for reuse is more limited. We offer cardboard boxes for sale rather than rent.

From an environmental perspective, both options have pros and cons.

Environmental pros and cons of cardboard

A significant advantage of cardboard is that it’s biodegradable and breaks down comparatively fast. In a home garden, for example, shredded cardboard that’s used as mulch and regularly watered may break down completely within just a few months.

It’s worth noting that tightly packed sheets of cardboard take much longer to decompose – potentially up to several years. Also, cardboard that’s contaminated with waxes, foils, laminates, glues or pollutants like oils may not be as readily broken down.

Environmentally, disadvantages of cardboard include:

  • the destruction of trees
    In the United States, for example, it’s estimated that roughly 29 million tons of waste corrugated cardboard are generated annually. That’s equivalent to about 493 million trees. However, it’s worth noting that in much of the world, including South Africa, cardboard is derived mostly from trees planted and farmed sustainably for the purpose.
  • the amount of water and energy required to manufacture cardboard
    Manufacturing a single cardboard box equivalent in size to one Ecobox takes  an estimated average of about 20 litres of water and 4 kWh of energy.
  • cardboard’s susceptibility to damage
    Cardboard is susceptible to damage from moisture and mildew, and may be bent out of shape. Also, if a cardboard box is overloaded or subject to wear and tear over time, its bottom may give way. This reduces the life span of cardboard boxes and their potential for reuse.

The good news is that South Africa is recycling a good proportion of all cardboard waste – although the recycling process itself uses water and energy.

At Ecobox, we offer clients who buy our cardboard boxes a free cardboard recycling service.

Environmental pros and cons of Ecoboxes

Ecoboxes are made of plastic, which is a petrochemical product. Unlike cardboard, plastic can take a very long time indeed to biodegrade.

However, because each Ecobox can be used up to 400 times, it saves significantly on the water and energy used to manufacture each cardboard box.

Using rough averages, a single Ecobox could save as much as:

  • 8000 litres of water (400 times the 20 litres of water used to produce a single cardboard box)
  • 1600 kWh of energy (400 times the 4 kWh of energy used to produce a cardboard box) – that’s about six months’ worth of energy for a small household.

Uses of Ecoboxes

You can use our Ecoboxes to move just about anything, including items that may be too fragile or too heavy for standard cardboard boxes. Ecoboxes are also useful as plastic storage boxes, for short or longer-term storage.

Each Ecobox has a 70-litre capacity and standard dimensions of 600 x 400 x 400 mm. A single Ecobox can, for example, hold the contents of a small chest of drawers, 245 DVD cases or 120 neatly folded t-shirts.

Once you’ve moved and unpacked, we’ll collect the empty boxes from your location. Then we clean and sanitise the boxes, and prepare them for reuse.

So which should I choose – cardboard or Ecoboxes?

No plastic or cardboard item is environmentally perfect – but responsible use and recycling significantly reduce the environmental impact of these materials.

Because our cardboard moving boxes and Ecoboxes both have pros and cons from an environmental perspective, we recommend making the choice based on your packing or storage needs. In fact, many of our customers use a combination.

Cardboard boxes are an affordable option if you want to buy moving boxes – for example, if you’re not sure when you’ll be ready to unpack your items or want to store items for longer than just a couple of weeks. Also, we offer certain cardboard boxes for special uses. For example, you can use our flat-screen TV box to move a TV or our wardrobe box to move clothing with minimal creasing.

Ecoboxes help protect fragile items from damage, are suitable for fairly heavy items and are easy to stack and transport. They’re available for rent only.

Get the moving boxes and packing supplies you need by ordering online and we’ll deliver them to your doorstep. Alternatively, contact us for more information.

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