While the packaging industry is constantly undergoing development and improvements, it is typically a lot less vibrant than the information systems area. There, the latest hype for about two years plus now, has been cloud computing. It could appear that the two spheres share a lot more in common. This is suggested by a fairly recent real-time virtual marketplace for paper and cardboard manufacturers. It is deployed in the cloud and all interested stakeholders – paper mills, packaging suppliers, paper brokers etc. – have a nice and clean electronic media to communicate and monitor prices, supplies, demand, inventory levels and current order status. This style of online paper trading has dramatically cut costs, improved and simplified flexibility, inventory management and overall resource stewardship. All they need to get access is a browser and proper accounts/subscription into the system.
A natural next step in such an Internet-based exchange could be to include materials recycling facilities. This would be beneficial for local waste management and enterprises in the cardboard and shipping boxes businesses to stay current on price fluctuations of recycled versus raw materials. The ultimate goal of curbside corrugated fiberboard recycling is to build a reliable and sustainable closed cycle of plastics, glass, cardboard etc. manufacturing, use, disposal, collection and reuse/re-manufacturing. Challenges in this area typically come from an increased share of manual labor in the process which could drive the price of recycled raw materials above their virgin counterparts. This would be counter productive for recycling facilities and raise flags in their financial departments and local communities questioning their funding and use.
Certain manufacturers, such as Kleenex for example, have sometimes been criticized of having a greater share of virgin fibers in their materials mix. Part of this is due to business specifics and reputation issues – Kleenex maintain that to preserve the softness and gentle touch of their paper products, the well familiar tall or flat small cardboard boxes of tissues have to contain wipes etc. made from fresh paper. On the upside, they claim to have over 95 percent of recycled fibers in their actual outer corrugated boxes where the tissues live.
It would be impossible to influence all paper mills and cardboard boxes manufacturers to follow a certain type of strict business guidelines. Such attempts would decrease competitiveness and ultimately have an unexpected reflection upon markets. It is however undisputed that the mighty cloud could create and edge for some companies who choose to make a full use of its qualities and stay current on cardboard boxes materials with its help. Such solutions could be deployed on already existing cloud platforms or by in-house means for larger enterprises.
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