As shopping habits change during the lockdown and online daily deliveries become the norm, the UK has now become a nation of hoarders.
New data from the leader in sustainable packaging, DS Smith, has shown that there are more than 135 million cardboard boxes in households across the UK.
44% of Britons admit hoarding cardboard boxes – while more than half of Britons say the amount of cardboard packaging in their homes has increased since the pandemic.
Of these, two-thirds blamed more online purchases, and more than a quarter admitted holding onto boxes without a clear motive – simply because “they might be useful in the future”. But the hoarding habit seems harmless keeping raw materials out of the hands of recycling companies and leading to rising paper prices.
Rogier Gerritsen, director of recycling at DS Smith, said: “Since the pandemic began, consumer shopping habits have changed dramatically and we’ve seen a huge surge in online orders for more items, which has resulted in more cardboard boxes.”
“But while some make good use of these boxes – reusing them for storage, crafts, or shipping other items – many boxes sit unused and don’t find their way back into the recycling streams. This means that, at best, materials are delayed to reach recyclers, and worse, not getting to them at all. “
DS Smith is a circular company and has a unique 14-day box-to-box model. This means that the boxes he makes can be collected, recycled and converted into new boxes within 14 days. The company is not only Europe’s largest cardboard and paper recycler, but is also committed to the transition to a circular economy. The company makes billions of cardboard boxes from recycled fiber worldwide every year and finds solutions for its customers that replace problematic plastics and remove carbon from supply chains.
Further data showed that one in five Britons holds on to 5 to 10 boxes, with 10 percent hoarding 10 to 19 and four percent stowing at least 20 boxes at home. Those who admit hoarding say the most popular places to keep them are in the garage (34%), in a closet or closet (30%), or in the shed (23%).
Of those who have seen an increase in cardboard packaging in their homes, 22% say there is not enough space in their trash or bag to dispose of the cardboard boxes. Around one in ten admits that they don’t know how to recycle them and the same number who don’t know where to recycle them.
In addition, a total of 11% of Britons admit to throwing cardboard packaging in the general waste bin, and 8% even say they burn it.
Mr. Gerritsen added: “Unfortunately, these results again show the need for better, clearer infrastructure to ensure that what is meant to be recycled is recycled. We recently showed that 49% of UK households admit that their trash bins are running out of space. A quarter say this happens every two weeks or more.
“Changes and reforms that make it clearer and easier for people to recycle at home would ensure that more and more of these precious materials are used over and over, reducing our impact on the environment.”
Simon Weston, director of raw materials at the Association of the Paper Industry, said, “We know cardboard boxes can be useful around the home and encourage people to reuse them wherever possible, but where they are not reused and instead hoarded they represent wasted resources that could be recycled to make new products. In the UK, millions of these boxes are currently idle in closets, sheds and garages. We would ask anyone stowing them to instead responsibly recycle them so that the raw materials can be put back into practice. “