Why You Should Pay Attention To Shipping Box Quality
TL;DR You want your boxes to arrive uncrushed and undamaged. Large players, like Amazon, use 32 ECT boxes. It’s not just the standard but it’s the go-to for almost every major ecommerce company. That means you can feel comfortable shipping your products in any 32 ECT box, including ours.
The most important thing about a corrugated box is that it gets your products to your customers safely. You want your box to withstand the shipping and transportation process. How can you ensure your boxes won’t wind up crushed when they arrive at their destinations?
Two things—the ECT and Mullen test.
We’ll walk you through what these tests are and offer up some tips on what to avoid when shopping for shippers so you don’t end up with boxes that fall apart.
What Makes up Box Quality
The packaging industry has two major ways of measuring the strength and durability of a cardboard shipping box. Each test is designed to determine the same thing but in different ways. They tell you how much pressure your box can take before it breaks.
The ECT, which stands for Edge Crush Test, was designed to test and measure the durability of a corrugated cardboard box. It works by applying pressure to either the top or bottom of the box and seeing how much it can withstand when vertical before collapsing.
Essentially, it tests the strength of a shipping box from top to bottom. This is important for when boxes are stacked on top of each other when shipped in pallets.
Invented in the 1990s, the ECT is the most common test used and 32 ECT is the most common corrugated box sold. This is largely because it costs less and partly because stacking strength is a better indicator of how a corrugated box will hold up while shipping. The major benefit of this test is the lack of weight requirements. Boxes that use this test can be lighter and more environmentally-friendly.
The Mullen Test
The Mullen Test, or Bursting Test, tests the bursting strength of a corrugated cardboard box. It determines how much pressure the walls of a shipping box can handle before it bursts. With this test, corrugated boxes must have a minimum base weight requirement meaning they’ll be heavier boxes by default compared to boxes measured by the ECT.
While the standard result of the ECT is 32, the standard result of Mullen test is 200# — measured in pounds. The higher the number, the stronger the box. While the ECT focuses on how a box will hold up while stacked, the Mullen test focuses on how a box will hold up when being handled individually, including when it’s handled roughly.
Understanding what kind of boxes to avoid
Boxes that aren’t measured with the ECT or Mullen Test
When you’re shopping for boxes online, you’ll see most likely the product specifications in the details of each product description. Most corrugated boxes have a 32 ECT or 200# specification. This measurement is like having the packaging industry’s stamp of approval. Without that spec on the page, you run the risk of ending up with boxes that aren’t sturdy or durable.
Boxes that can only hold less than 40 pounds
A standard corrugated box should have 32 ECT or 200# meaning it can hold up to 40 pounds worth of product. Most boxes that have the 32 ECT stamp can hold a range of weight from 30 pounds up to 65 pounds. However, if you opt to use a box that can hold no more than 30 pounds you may have crushed shipping boxes and angry customers to deal with later.
Boxes that have been used previously
Don’t sacrifice box quality just to save a few dollars. Used boxes may have more dents and bruises than a new one. It’s best to avoid the stress of wondering whether or not the product you worked so hard on will make it to its destination in one piece.
If you’re concerned with waste, there’s an easier solution than you think. Recycled shipping boxes are the best option for strength, durability and sustainability. Just because something is recycled doesn’t mean it’s low quality.
In fact, Brandable Box shipping boxes are made from 100% recycled materials and have a 32 ECT. It’s like the best of both worlds.