Corrugated Manufacturing Trends in 2023

Corrugated Manufacturing Trends in 2023

Corrugated manufacturing continues to grow as an industry, and is projected to continue this trend through 2026. For box makers, staying on the pulse of top corrugated developments can help your business grow and place you ahead of the demand and the competition.

Though there are multiple trends (some fads) peeking their head into 2023, we have chosen three trends that we believe will shape the future of corrugated manufacturing in the years to come.

Sustainability (No surprise here)

CORRUGATED manufacturing sustainabilityAs we all know, sustainability continues to be a hot topic across manufacturing, and we believe this trend will be here for the long run (pun intended). Consumers demand transparency on the environmental impact of brands and manufacturers, from their products to packaging and business practices. Thankfully, the corrugated industry is in a unique position for this trend, considering corrugated material is already highly regarded as an environmentally-friendly material. Here are a few ways to truly make an impact, but tread carefully; you don’t want to get caught in the unethical “greenwashing” trend that has damaged many brand reputations.

Right Size Packaging. While there may be some logistical reasons for shipping tiny items in standard sized boxes, the public perception of this practice is that it is wasteful and inefficient. Brands have heard these critiques and will be seeking box makers who can create custom, right size packaging to appease their customers. Boxmakers capable of custom die cuts, box inserts and eco-friendly fillers will lead the charge in this sustainability trend.

Recycling Visibility. Remind consumers that their corrugated boxes are recyclable by including recycling directions. This could be as simple as a recycle emblem on the box, or something a bit more fun, like how to turn a box into a creative DIY project. Be sure to encourage your brand clients to include recycling icons or visuals in their box design before production, if applicable.

Recycled Materials. Take your sustainability efforts one step further by offering a stock of recycled board among your corrugated packaging materials. Corrugate can be re-pulped up to five times, on average! This reduces deforestation, increasing the existing environmentally friendly nature of corrugated. Take it one step further and encourage brands that choose these materials to include it in their sustainability messaging. Blurbs like “this box is made from recycled materials” can go a long way.

Staffing (The silent killer)

 “The Great Resignation” “Quiet Quitting” To say the least, the state of staffing has been tumultuous in recent years. In 2023, corrugated manufacturing trends will continue to focus on employee retention, training, and most importantly, recruitment.

We hate to say it, but manufacturing has quickly lost its luster as a coveted career. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “The manufacturing industry faced a major setback after losing roughly 1.4 million jobs at the onset of the pandemic. Since then, the industry has struggled to hire entry level and skilled workers alike.”

Labor shortage by industry

Additionally, with hybrid work becoming the norm for many occupations, manufacturers struggle with the fact that you can’t produce boxes from a home office. How does the corrugated industry attract a technology-loving, ever-changing, free-spirited younger generation to the manufacturing floor? Aside from updating your benefits, here are some ideas.

Get flexible. Identify alternative perks in lieu of remote options. Production staff perks such as flexible start/end times, paid lunches, performance contests or safety incentives are a great way to keep employees engaged and a fun spirit throughout the shop floor.

Get social.  Improve or establish a culture & events committee. Reach out to your most spirited employees and allow them company time to brainstorm and plan events that boost morale and spark engagement. When you get employees involved from across different departments and get people mingling, it’s a great way to satisfy the younger generation’s itch for social interaction.

Get help. If you find that your organization is struggling to hire, considering speaking or partnering with an educational program, association or industry influencer. Many high schools, colleges and trade schools offer manufacturing programs or classes and are a great resource to find future engineers and operators. Consider partnering with these sources and sponsoring a program.

Automation and Robotics (the joys of technology)

Now more than ever, automation and robotics are finding a permanent place in box maker facilities. This year will bring greater integration of automation into the box making process to counteract employee shortage. Thanks to technologies such as connected machines, predictive maintenance, order recipe recalls, automatic set ups and more, Boxmakers are taking advantage of time and labor savings to remain competitive.

However, we urge you to not think of these technologies as a replacement for workers, but rather as a collaborative tool that empowers your existing team to do more. Who can say no to increased, efficient output? And for this technology-loving generation, showcasing the opportunities with cobots and cutting-edge technology could be a way to attract the younger staff members you’ve been searching for.

Looking to get ahead of these 2023 manufacturing trends? Corrugated Solutions assists converters in finding the best solutions to meet their goals and needs. From RDC machinery to material handling with the latest in emerging technology, Corrugated Solutions can find you the perfect solutions to your company’s needs. Contact our team to discuss these manufacturing trends and stay ahead of the industry with bespoke corrugated solutions.