One simple question: can all cardboard or paperboard be recycled? The answer is, NO.
Many of us may not think twice about sustainable options when searching for an old cardboard box given that we may assume that using old cardboard boxes is a more sustainable option than cutting down trees to make virgin cardboard products. We might not even bother to check how much fuel or resources are used to produce cardboard boxes nor pay attention to how much time it takes to open and unpack boxes. Yet, it is a different story altogether when it comes to the packing and shipping business.
Two undergraduate students, Henry Wang and Chris Curro at Cooper Union, have developed the Rapid Packing Container, a re-think of the conventional packaging box that is more environmentally friendly in terms of reduced-cardboard usage; it is fully-recyclable, quicker to pack and easier to open and seal. The video in which they demonstrated how the shipping box functions has received over 2.7 million hits on YouTube in December 2013.
Curro and Wang's Rapid Packing Container was the grand prize winner of Cooper Union's "Invention Factory" contest. It promotes student-created inventions that could eventually be patentable. The two students are currently seeking a patent for their iteration of the cardboard box and they want to carry out a quality test of their product at a major shipping company.
As commented by many critics such as package handlers and delivery drivers from the industry, the Rapid Packing Container isn't that radically different in terms of the material itself. But this is what innovation is all about - rediscovering everyday things and exercising your imagination for a better world.
If you never try, you will never know but one day, you may knock it out of the park.