Custom Shipping Boxes: Kraft or White Boxes?
Once you’ve determined that a custom shipping box with printing suits your brand, it’s time to decide whether you want a kraft box or a white box with full-coverage branding.
Ultimately, the choice will come down to your sustainability goals. While white boxes offer an easy canvas to print bold colors, they are not as environmentally friendly as kraft boxes. This is why, in almost all cases, we recommend 100% recycled custom-branded kraft shipping boxes over digitally printed white boxes.
However, we understand that you want to weigh your options thoroughly before making a final decision for your brand. Here’s our guide to aid you in your choice between kraft or white boxes.
What is the difference between kraft boxes and white boxes?
In short, kraft boxes have that quintessential brown cardboard color, and white boxes are white. While this may not seem like a significant distinction, there are actually major differences between these two colors. White boxes have very little recycled content, if any. Although it is possible to have 100% recycled white boxes, they can only be made from recycled white paper, which means extra labor to produce. Therefore, almost all 100% recycled shipping boxes will be kraft boxes.
However, white boxes offer an easier canvas to print on. Companies seeking to create an influencer box that looks nice on camera often choose white boxes. But, these companies need to understand that although a shipping box with a full-coverage design may gain lots of likes, it’s not an environmentally friendly choice. In a world where consumers care about a brand’s sustainability, these experiences can ultimately harm your brand.
A deep dive comparison
Sustainability and color aren’t the only differentiating factors between kraft and white boxes. Their price points, minimum order quantities, design and print capabilities, and setup costs vary drastically.
Here are some significant comparisons between flexographic printed kraft boxes and digitally printed white boxes.
Printing and design
Our kraft boxes are printed flexographic, while a high-coverage white box is typically digitally printed. Digital printing uses CMYK pigments so that any and all colors can be printed. This results in a vibrant, unique design. It also allows for floodcoats and full coverage. Flexo printing is slightly more limited. While full coverage is possible, floodcoats are usually not feasible with flexo printing, and only it prints 2 - 4 colors. However, flexo printing can print using algae ink, which is carbon-negative.
Regarding design, digital printing on a white shipping box allows for more flexibility. However, it’s less sustainable, which should be a huge consideration for modern eCommerce companies.
While the per-unit cost of custom-printed kraft boxes is relatively low, the setup costs are moderately high. This is because flexographic printing uses a printing plate, which you must pay for upfront. However, once that plate is created, we keep it for all future orders, so the plate design is a one-time cost. Furthermore, the per-unit cost for flexograph kraft boxes is scalable, with lower per-unit costs the higher the order.
Conversely, per-unit costs for digitally printed white boxes are moderately high. It’s not scalable, so that the per-unit cost will be about the same, regardless of volume. However, setup costs are low since the design is created digitally and doesn’t require any plates or other materials.
Without a doubt, kraft boxes are more sustainable than white boxes. Our kraft boxes are made of 100% recycled post-consumer and post-industrial materials. Furthermore, flexographic printing can use algae ink, which is highly sustainable. White boxes are rarely made of 100% recycled materials; if they use recycled materials at all, it’s typically no more than 30%. This does not contribute to a circular system as it uses virgin materials.
In most cases, stick with kraft shipping boxes
Kraft shipping boxes are much more sustainable than white shipping boxes. Although this might not, at first, seem like a huge deal, sustainability is a huge factor in today’s consumers’ purchasing decisions. A report from Trivium Packaging found that 71% of consumers have made a purchasing decision based on the sustainability of a product. A whopping 90% of Gen Z respondents said they are willing to pay more for sustainable packaging. If your brand wants to stay competitive, it must use eco-friendly packaging.
The good news is that you don’t have to sacrifice aesthetics for sustainability. Although our custom-branded boxes might not have the color capabilities of digitally printed white boxes, we can still offer full coverage printing in up to four colors, creating a sustainable, unforgettable unboxing experience.
If you strongly consider high-coverage printed white boxes, save these for special occasions like initial product launches, promos, and influencer marketing. Influencer boxes are a strategic marketing tool but often have very few (if any) additional sustainable attributes.
Deploying both types of boxes thoughtfully allows you to profoundly impact your boxes' environmental footprint while still utilizing an eye-catching influencer box for crucial marketing efforts.
Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Custom Shipping Boxes
How to make the most of your sustainable kraft boxes
You don’t have to sacrifice an unforgettable unboxing experience for sustainability. When you invest in eco-friendly packaging, it doesn’t mean that it has to be boring. Here at EcoEnclose, we love creative packaging choices, so we offer plenty of ways to customize your eco-friendly packaging. Here are some of our top tips for gorgeous kraft box packaging.
- Print a new design (with different colors, designs, or art coverage) through a smaller run of boxes with 100% recycled Kraft corrugated. In your design, be sure to call out the sustainability metrics of the box and that it was chosen intentionally by your team! Long-standing or subscription customers are sure to notice the new design.
- Utilize custom-printed tissue paper to wrap your products or a sticker on the box or inside for your customer to keep.
- Include a custom-printed notecard highlighting the new product, initiative, and/or your sustainability commitment.
- Consider a mailer for a product launch for new products that do not require the function or size of a box. Your customers will notice the new delivery method, and you’ll save on shipping rates through the temporary switch to mailers.
Shop custom shipping boxes
Ordering custom shipping boxes is simple. Select your style, dimensions, strength, and branding - we'll handle the rest. For branded orders, we have a real, live human proof your artwork prior to production to ensure your vision is captured into a beautifully finished product.
Get started: order custom shipping boxes here