This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot – including the way we will celebrate the holidays. The new mantra of mass media and retailers alike advises consumers to shop and ship early.

In fact, a recent Supply & Demand Chain Executive article noted, “Seventy-three percent of American consumers, many of whom are digital newcomers, plan to do their holiday shopping online, and 26 percent plan to ship gifts directly from retailers to friends and family. Combined with 88 percent of consumers expressing concern over packages arriving late, these shifts put retailers under mounting pressure to make this holiday season a success.”

That means all eyes are on the supply chain. The good news is retailers and consumers can count on corrugated packaging to make those happy holiday deliveries.

From point A to point B, corrugated boxes are specifically engineered to protect and cushion products along their journey. Simply put, corrugated packaging is the backbone of the American supply chain.

The ability of a box to withstand the rigors of transport through an increasingly complex supply chain is crucial for protecting the product inside and supporting the brand behind it. This means the package must arrive in pristine condition and graphics on the box need to provide a mobile billboard for the brand. In addition, it is more important than ever for consumers to understand corrugated packaging’s environmental progress and the importance of why and how to recycle the box after use.

Box manufacturers have stepped up to the challenge. They have increased production of corrugated boxes to keep transport packaging flowing throughout this pandemic year to makers of essential products, holiday gifts and more.

In the early days of the pandemic, we watched as the supply chain flexed and contracted amidst pantry-stocking and toilet paper hoarding. The corrugated industry worked to ensure our facilities and our workers were deemed essential.

In March, corrugated box shipments grew by 9 percent above March 2019 shipments, boosted by both an additional shipping day and overstocking of household paper, cleaning supplies and food. Shipments grew again year-over-year in June, July, and September. With October shipments hitting record highs and putting the industry up 2.4 percent through ten months of the year, it is important that we celebrate boxes and the extraordinary work they do.

The only thing boxmakers ask from consumers in return, is that they recycle. When it comes to environmentally sustainable packaging options, corrugated has no equal. With an untouchable annual U.S. recovery rate hovering around 90 percent for the past nine years – making it the most recovered packaging material in use today – corrugated is a recycling success story.

Once used, corrugated boxes are not just recyclable, they are recycled. When corrugated is collected, consumers are gifting back to the industry. Corrugated is returned to mills where it is broken down into fibers, manufactured back into containerboard, and used to make new boxes. The recycling process completes the circular cycle and allows a box to become a box again and the average corrugated box contained 50 percent recycled content.

To echo the words of FBA’s immediate past chairman Jeff Chalovich earlier this year, “Boxes. The Most Extraordinary Ordinary Thing in the World.’ Truer words were never spoken, and there has never been a better time or year to bring this tagline to life.” Thanks to Jeff and to everyone in the corrugated industry working hard to make corrugated boxes that will allow retailers and consumers to shop and ship early this holiday season. They click it, corrugated ships it.