Are you looking for sustainable, recycled boxes to replace your current packaging and shipping needs? Then this guide is for you! 

Mailer boxes are some of the most popular forms of e-commerce packaging. At EcoPackables, we've created hundreds of thousands of boxes that are made of recycled content and printed with earth-friendly inks. We’ll go over the details of when to use a box, each material option and packaging option currently available as well as how sustainability messaging can enhance your brand. 

When to use a box

When it comes to shipping your products, recycled boxes can be a great option for a number of reasons. Not only are they an eco-friendly choice, but they are also versatile and can accommodate a range of item sizes and types. Using a box especially makes sense for three purposes: shipping large items, shipping and storing fragile items, and creating unique subscription boxes.

Large Items

When shipping medium to large items, such as hats or shoes, a box provides the necessary space and support to protect the item during transport. Recycled boxes come in a variety of stock sizes and custom sizes, so it's easy to find one that will fit your specific needs. Plus, using a box made of 100% recycled content helps reduce waste and minimize your business's environmental impact.

Fragile Items

Products made of glass or ceramics require extra protection during shipping. A recycled box can provide a sturdy and secure enclosure to prevent damage to these fragile items. It's important to choose a box that is the appropriate size for the item, with enough internal support - whether it be inserts or void fill - to absorb any shocks or impacts. Our team of experts can help you figure out what kind of internal packaging you may need and the ideal size to ship your more fragile products.

Subscription Box

Subscription boxes typically contain a variety of items varying in size and change from month to month. Recycled boxes can be customized to fit the specific contents of each box, and can be easily labeled and branded with your business's logo or messaging. Don’t forget to include eco-friendly messaging to show your customers the commitment you have made to a more sustainable future. We also recommend you add recycling information so your packaging is properly recycled or reused. With digital printing full CMYK, low MOQs and quick lead times, EcoPackables offers fully-customized, recycled boxes with speed and customer care like no other.

Pros & Cons

  • Highly durable
  • Recycled content
  • Easily recyclable
  • Holds its shape
  • Great for sending curated product collections (samples and subscription boxes)
  • Printable
  • Customization of size and material
  • Plastic free

  • Higher cost than flexible mailers
  • Higher shipping cost
  • Not the most efficient packaging method for soft goods


Our 100% Recycled Paper and corrugate are FSC Certified and made from a blend of responsibly sourced paper pulp and post-consumer recycled waste. All of our recycled paper options are also curbside recyclable. To ensure the past packaging experience, we offer a range of customization services, including board material and flute options. Our experts will help you determine the best material choice for your box size, product, shipping needs and branding goals.

Recycled Kraft Paper Board

Our FSC-Certified Post-Consumer Recycled Paper Board is an ideal choice for Retail Boxes as it is printed with non-toxic inks, customizable, and available in a variety of thicknesses (90-330gsm). This thin, but sturdy carton provides excellent print quality, creating an eye-catching retail experience.

Recycled Natural Kraft Corrugate

Our customizable,  FSC-Certified Post-Consumer Recycled Natural Kraft Corrugate printed with non-toxic inks is an excellent choice for shipping and mailing purposes. This type of paper is available in a range of thicknesses, from 90-330gsm, and is both sturdy and lightweight. It is an eco-friendly option as it is made from recycled paper and is FSC-certified, guaranteeing that the paper is responsibly sourced.

Recycled White Kraft Corrugate

You may choose our White Kraft over our Natural Kraft for the color matching ability and vibrancy, ensuring that your shipping and mailing boxes will look professional and eye-catching. This option has the same FSC certification, is made of recycled content, and is just as customizable as its Natural Kraft counterpart.

Corrugated Board Types

Corrugated sheets have two parts: the flute (wave-like paper) and the linerboard (outer covering). The flute rests between the linerboard and depending on the thickness of the flute, the boxes can have varying degrees of protection.

Important Consideration: The thinner the flute, the more expensive the manufacturing cost. However, it ends up being cheaper in terms of shipping and storage because the boxes take up significantly less space. It can be challenging to pick the right board type as it depends on several factors, including size, weight, shape and cost. Don’t worry, though, we’ll help you through this process! 

Mailing boxes

Mailing boxes, also known as presentation boxes, are a great option for businesses looking to provide their customers with an exceptional unboxing experience. With CMYK digital printing, colors are vibrant and accurate, and text is sharp and readable, creating a professional and appealing look for customers. Not only do they add to the overall aesthetic appeal of the product, but they also offer additional benefits such as being easily reusable for storage purposes. Mailing boxes are particularly useful for subscription boxes and shipping large or fragile items, as they provide extra protection to the contents inside. When choosing the box size for shipping fragile items, it is best to avoid extra-large boxes, as your product may bounce  around inside the box during transit, and instead choose a box that fits the item snugly to ensure the best possible protection during shipping. The high-quality appearance and durability make mailing boxes a worthwhile investment.

Tab Locking (TL)

Literature Mailer (LM)

Tab Locking boxes are by far our most popular offering, these boxes tend to fit most companies shipping an e-commerce parcel that's <15lbs. The TL is popular for cosmetics, apparel, and D2C brands.

Literature Mailers are very similar to our TL boxes, offering a similar functionality, just with a slight aesthetic difference and no dust flaps.

One main difference between these two options is where the box is taped (an important notes when considering your box design)

shipping boxes

Shipping boxes are a popular and reliable option for packing large items weighing over 15lbs. Corrugated cardboard is a typical material used in making shipping boxes, which is durable and can withstand the rough handling during transportation. These eco-friendly boxes are made of 100% recycled content (96% post-consumer recycled) and can be recycled, reducing the environmental impact of packaging waste. Additionally, shipping boxes can be customized and printed using digital printing technology, allowing businesses to create personalized and branded packaging

Regular Slotted Container (RSC)

One Panel Fold (OPF)

The traditional wholesale box. RSC’s are similar to moving boxes or Amazon delivery boxes.They are great for heavy products (>15lbs) or ones that require deep box sizes (>6").

A more unusual style, OPFs are great for slim items like books and picture frames

retail boxes

Retail Boxes are commonly used in both retail and as inner shipping packaging, where they help to create a positive consumer experience, drive brand recognition, and enhance product value. They can be used to package a variety of products, including cosmetics, electronics, mugs, food, and apparel, among others.

We make our Retail Boxes with FSC-Certified Post-Consumer Recycled Paper Board, a thin but sturdy carton material, which is customizable to include branding, logos, and other relevant information such as instructions, ingredients, and warranty details. Branding is a crucial aspect of Retail Boxes, as they provide businesses with an opportunity to showcase their brand identity and values.

VOID FILL and tape

Keep up your sustainability efforts, even when it comes to the smaller aspects of packaging, including void fill and tape. Choosing sustainable void fill options like tissue paper, paper shred, compostable peanuts, or custom corrugated inserts - available on request - can help your business reduce its carbon footprint and contribute to a healthier planet. Do what you can to avoid plastic packaging peanuts, Styrofoam, and any other non-biodegradable options. 

Tape can be a little more difficult to replace, but there are plastic-free options available. For example, paper tape, water-activated tape, or biodegradable tape can be used instead of traditional plastic tape. You may also consider using adhesive labels or twine to secure packages, reducing their reliance on tape altogether. 

Choosing materials with the same waste stream are more likely to be disposed of properly. If you are shipping with recyclable boxes, consider void fill and tape options that can be easily recycled along with the box. It's important to remember that even small changes can make a significant difference in reducing environmental harm, and businesses can lead the way by adopting sustainable practices in every aspect of their operations 

Branding and Sustainability Messaging

Know your Customer

Understanding your customers is crucial when developing a sustainability strategy and brand messaging for your shipping boxes. It is essential to identify your target audience's demographics and what matters to them, including their attitudes and beliefs towards environmental issues. By knowing your customers' preferences, you can create messaging that resonates with them, which can help build brand loyalty and attract new customers. It is also important to consider the recycling infrastructure available to your customers and provide them with clear information on how to recycle your packaging. Studies have shown that customers are more likely to purchase from brands that align with their values and take environmental concerns seriously.

“Across all 25 countries surveyed, an average 70% of respondents say they buy from brands they believe reflect their own principles” - IPSOS Study
“23% of consumers say they will switch to buying products from an organization that shares their values on environmental issues, 42% have changed consumption habits themselves because of their stance on the environment, and 21% have encouraged others to switch to a company whose values align with their opinion on an issue” - Deloitte
“65% said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, yet only about 26% actually do so” -Harvard Business Review

Using sustainable packaging can be a key selling point for customers who prioritize environmentally friendly products. By taking into account your customers' preferences and providing them with sustainable packaging, you can create a positive impact on both the environment and your business. It’s a win-win!

Provide an unforgettable unboxing experience

Creating an unforgettable unboxing experience with digitally printed recycled boxes is not only important for branding, but also for promoting sustainability messaging. Consider how popular unboxing videos are on social media, with the right branding, this can help to promote your brand to a wider audience. To ensure a memorable experience, consider adding a personalized message or thank you note inside the box, using creative packaging designs, and including eco-friendly inserts or samples. Using digitally printed recycled boxes can also help to reduce your carbon footprint and promote a more sustainable image. By providing an unforgettable unboxing experience with sustainable packaging, you can not only enhance your brand image, but also help to create a more environmentally conscious consumer base.

Tell your sustainability story and educate your customers

In order to make a significant change in your packaging, it is essential to have an effective packaging story. While many companies invest resources in developing new packaging systems, they often neglect to update the messaging on their packaging. To create a compelling packaging story, it is important to highlight your company's sustainability commitments and the materials used in your packaging. This serves two purposes: it enhances your brand by demonstrating to consumers that you are an environmentally responsible company and it educates consumers on sustainability, thus increasing their expectations for sustainable packaging and pressuring other companies to follow suit.

If your brand is transitioning from glossy, flood-coated mailer boxes to a more environmentally-friendly kraft alternative, it is crucial to communicate the reasons for this change to your customers. You can do this by clearly illustrating the environmental benefits of recycled materials, less ink, and an uncoated box on the physical product or via a QR code. By educating your followers, you help to establish a new norm for sustainable packaging.


If you're interested in sustainable box packaging, congratulations! You're taking the first step towards a more eco-friendly and responsible approach to packaging. Now that you know all of your options, let's begin your sustainable box packaging journey!

The first step is to figure out if a box is the right fit for you and your product packaging needs. After that, you need to decide which box style and material you'd like to use. This decision is crucial, and it's important to take your time with it. Consider the footprint, end-of-life, and aesthetics of each option before making a decision.

Once you've decided on the style and material, you can select a stock size from our product editor tool or contact one of our experts for a custom size quote. With your size in mind, it's time to design your box using full CMYK digital printing with brand and sustainability messaging. Make sure that your design aligns with your sustainability story and messaging, as this is crucial for successful branding.

When you're happy with your design, it's time to place your order and approve the final artwork. Once you've approved the artwork, your order will be put into the queue and lead time will begin! We're here to help with any step of the process, so don't hesitate to reach out for assistance.