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Corrugated Shelf Life, Storage and Usage Temps, Toxicity?

April 9, 2019

Chris asks:

Do you have any resources for the following information regarding corrugated containers?

As the answers would appear to be specific to the material composition, these would be for plain C-Flute kraft containers.

  • Shelf Life
  • Service Temp Range
  • Storage Temp
  • Toxicity

These questions are asked quite often on Ask-Ralph. This may not be a complete answer to your question, but it is a start to the dialogue.

Corrugated under compression (loaded and stacked) ages/deteriorates at a different rate than KD boxes on a pallet. Environment, fill load, stacked load, potential crush during converting all contribute to the deterioration rate of a loaded box.

Ideally, whether loaded or stored as knock downs, corrugated should be stored at 72 degrees and 50% RH.  That’s a perfect world and few of us live in a perfect world. Any fluctuations in these conditions can reduce the fibre to fibre bonding and strength of the adhesive bond. Temperature does effect stored corrugated, but it’s the combination of temperature and humidity that has the greatest effect. High temps (90 plus degrees F) and low humidity and you’re likely to start to see score cracking and brittle paper issues. High temps and high humidity and you’re likely to start seeing bond breakdown and an increase of the compressive creep rate leading to increased chances of failure under load.

At extreme low temps and you may start to experience recharacterizations of adhesive that can lead to failures at joints and even at the liner to medium bonds. Same holds true here with humidity though it may not be as severe as with high temps.

General rule of thumb, if it is comfortable to work in, it’s probably good for corrugated. We don’t like to be hot and sweaty or numb from cold… neither does corrugated.

As far as toxicity, corrugated is considered an indirect food additive by the FDA and is detailed in 49 CFR.  Therefore, no toxicity for plain kraft. If there are inks or coatings involved, then you have to look that them on an individual basis.

Now there’s a start to the discussion. What input do our readers have?

— Ralph

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