Reusable Plastic Boxes: Do They Really Make A Difference?

Eco Friendly Moving - Green Movers Toronto

Earlier this month, I wrote a post looking at how a move could be made less of a blow for dear old Mother Nature. In that post, several ways were dealt with but by far the most practical was to cut down on packing materials and use a reusable plastic box.

It makes perfect sense. But I was surprised to discover not everyone shares is convinced. A couple of weeks ago, my clan got together for Victoria Day, taking our annual jaunt out of the urban jungle and into Cottage Country around Kawartha Lakes. Surrounded by nature, it was only a matter of time before the environment came up, and I found myself facing some tricky queries. Is a reusable plastic box really all that more eco-friendly? Are not cardboard boxes recyclable anyway?

Promoting greener residential moving practices is something everyone at Viktoria Professional Movers Toronto believes is important, so I thought it’s best to investigate and get some straight answers. Here are some key facts I discovered.

The Overview

The precise number of people who move houses each year is unknown, but it’s estimated to be about 20 percent of Canadians. With each move, cardboard boxes, packing paper, tape and other materials are needed, creating a lot of waste in the process. According to the most up-to-date report compiled by Statistics Canada, each Canadian created an average of 777 kilograms of municipal solid waste in 2008. And while some of this waste is recycled, about 75 per cent is not.


Trees are consumed to make cardboard boxes. According to figures released by the US-based EPA in 1996, a massive 17 trees are needed to manufacture one tonne of virgin paper.  And since Canada uses an estimated 6 million tonnes of paper and paperboard every year (according to Environment Canada) that means we use up about 102 million trees. Ouch!

Figures from Statistics Canada for 2008 revealed that 1.4 million tonnes of cardboard and boxboard (or 16.5 per cent of the total municipal solid waste) was recycled or reused. Some 419,690 tonnes were from Ontario.

Air, Water and Energy

Keeping the air we breathe clean is a key part of the environmental movement. According to a 2012 report compiled by Conservatree, some 5,601 lbs of CO2 is released for each tonne of virgin paper manufactured, while recycled paper emits half that (3,500 lbs).

When you look at water consumption, the report pointed to 22,800 gallons used to manufacture the same amount of virgin paper, while recycled paper used 11,600 gallons. The EPA claims that recycling paper saves on 7,000 gallons of water per tonne.

Conservatree claims 33 million Btu are used to make a tonne of virgin paper and 22 million Btu for recycled paper. The EPA states recycling paper cuts energy usage by about 60 per cent, or 4,100 kilowatts hours per tonne.

In comparison, recycling plastics than that needed in creating virgin PET and HDPE resin, and 2.1 million tonnes less CO2 emissions.


Anyone with even a passing interest in the environment knows that landfills are not good. The EPA points out that every tonne of paper-related products dumped occupies 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space.

Of course, gas emissions is another problem – especially the greenhouse gas, methane, which is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2). In 2009, methane emissions from landfills accounted for 22 per cent of Canada’s total methane emissions, and 3 per cent of greenhouse gasses emissions.

While methane can be captured and incinerated (and 349 kilotonnes was incinerated in 2009), the gasses released as a result do little for air quality. In 2009, it was:

  • 350 tonnes of sulphur oxides (SOx)
  • 1,364 tonnes of nitrogen oxides (NOx)
  • 602 tonnes of volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • 1,330 tonnes of carbon monoxide (CO)
  • 19 tonnes of ammonia (NH3)

Plastic Over Cardboard?

So, cardboard boxes may be cheap and useful, but they do little to aid the environment. It’s only part of the reason that Viktoria Professional Movers Toronto, and so many other environmentally responsible moving companies, are investing more and more in the reusable plastic boxes for packing. There are compelling practical reasons too.

  • Reusable plastic boxes are made from recyclable high-density polyethylene, which means they are better for the environment.
  • Various suppliers claim these boxes can be used for anything from 200 to 400 times. Cardboard boxes are used between 1 and 5 times before losing shape, strength and viability.
  • They are much longer-lasting – between 5 and 10 years according to estimates.
  • Boxes are weather resistant, non-absorbing and more rigid than corrugated boxes.
  • No need for box cutters, and zero chance of sharp objects breaking through from inside, means they are safer.
  • Greater convenience lowers labour time per trip, and a longer lifespan means a higher return on investment. So, all in all these boxes saves costs for moving companies. In fact, if the box is used 250 times, and initial investment is between 2 and 20 times the cost of cardboard boxes, the reusable box actually costs is 92% less than the alternative.

So, does renting reusable plastic boxes from a residential moving company make sense? You can decide for yourself.  For more information, you can speak to Viktoria Professional Movers Toronto, but for more reading, check out:

About Viktoria Professional Movers Toronto

Viktoria Professional Movers Toronto is a professional moving and storage company operating out of Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary, providing high quality local and long distance moving services throughout the GTA, Southern Ontario and across Canada. Thanks to our country-wide network we are also able to service our clients’ long distance moving needs throughout Canada. By helping to educate our clients on topics that can help them plan and execute a successful move, we are fulfilling our directive of taking the stigma out of hiring professional movers, and helping to make the moving process a stress free experience overall. To hear first-hand about our high quality moving services, please visit Homestars page where you can read reviews on our company submitted by many of our satisfied customers.

Call Viktoria Professional Movers Toronto (647) 344-1554 or Toll Free: 1 ( 877) 399-1315 for a FREE Consultation in regards to your residential or office moving needs to and from the GTA and Metro Toronto area.

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