Boxes, boxboard, paperboard, folding cartons, cardboard: whatever you call it, we have them covered


We have just launched a new website on the environmental attributes of paper boxes, but boy did we have a time before settling on what exactly to call it. You wouldn’t think there could be so many different names for what basically is a similar type of packaging material, but it’s a fact. There’s boxes, boxboard, paperboard, cartons, and these are just some of the terms used by industry

logopaperbags 300x186

folk. Throw in the general, more public catch-all phrase of cardboard, and you can see why people get totally confused (What do you mean “cardboard” doesn’t exist?).

We finally settled on paper boxes because that is what they are made from, paper. And the thin lightweight paper box that we are talking about here is quite structurally different from its cousin, the heavier and stronger corrugated box. Huh? What’s a corrugated box?

Anyway, we now have four websites to get you all straightened out. This site (PPEC) provides general environmental information about paper packaging in Canada. If it’s paper bags you are interested in, you can get more specific info at If you want to know what corrugated means, go to And if you need specific information on Canadian paper boxes or cartons or boxboard or paperboard (!) then this is where you should click ( For those of you who are cardboard-inclined, you have a choice: the corrugated box site or the paper boxes Canada site!

The aim is to provide customers and consumers with easy access to the most accurate, concise and current environmental information possible. Each site outlines the common uses of the packaging type; what it’s made from; how it’s made; where it’s made; plus information on the industry’s use of renewable resources, recycled content, recyclability, compostability, and public policy issues. There’s even a quiz. We’d appreciate your feedback and any suggestions for improvement.

Posted in

John Mullinder

Executive Director Paper & Paperboard Packaging Environmental Council (PPEC)

2 thoughts on “Boxes, boxboard, paperboard, folding cartons, cardboard: whatever you call it, we have them covered”

  1. Great point, John. How an industry that has been around as long as corrugated has could not have one name for its product is actually strange.
    Having said that, the name cardboard box (corrugated carton) is widely recognized and understood by the general public.
    I believe that when corrugated first started, we used “cardboard” as liners and produced a box. Hence the name.
    Actually in some cases with heavy test board, this is still not too far from the truth.
    Today with the advent of corrugated plastic and metal, a corrugated box could be one of three substrates!
    I have corrected so many over the years and yet “cardboard box” would get my vote.
    Dave Briggs

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top