How to Properly Reuse Boxes for Shipping

How to Properly Reuse Boxes for Shipping Many people think that you’re not allowed to reuse shipping boxes, but this is just a common misconception. Reusing old shipping boxes helps you save time and money, and it is also good for the environment. However, you need to reuse boxes properly if you want your package to get to its destination. Here are a few tips on reusing boxes for shipping that you might find helpful.

Make Sure the Box Can Be Reused

Although some cardboard boxes can be reused, it doesn’t mean that all of them can. Plain cardboard boxes can be reused as long as they’re not damaged, but you should be careful with branded boxes from Amazon, the USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc. For example, Amazon boxes can generally be reused, but you shouldn’t reuse flat rate USPS boxes.

The thing is, flat rate boxes you order from the USPS Postal Store can be used only for the class of mail they are intended for. Misusing them for another class of mail is not just a simple mistake; it may be a violation of the federal law. To prevent misusing, the USPS recommends against reusing its boxes at all. Since the USPS provides flat rate boxes at no cost, you won’t lose money if you don’t reuse. And if you care about the environment, you should know that Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express boxes are recyclable, so getting a new box doesn’t hurt the environment that much.

You also shouldn’t use boxes that have one carrier’s name and/or logo on them to ship a package via a different carrier; understandably, most carriers do not allow shipping in boxes that have their competitors’ branding. In such a case, you can turn the box inside out (read on to learn how to do it) or use a new box.

Finally, you shouldn’t reuse boxes that once contained alcohol and can be identified as such, especially if you’re shipping via the USPS. The USPS does not allow to send alcoholic beverages, so if your box has any labels or logos that suggest there is alcohol inside, your package may get detained and returned to the sender even though it doesn’t actually contain any alcohol.

Make Sure the Box Is in a Good Condition

A shipping box can be reused as long as it’s sturdy and undamaged. Make sure the box you want to reuse isn’t dented, torn or broken. Even if it seems okay at first glance, take your time to check all corners and edges and consider reinforcing them with heavy packing tape because you don’t want the box to crush under the weight of other boxes that will get stacked on top of it during transportation. We also recommend against reusing old boxes for shipping fragile items even when they look fine, just to be on the safe side.

Remove Old Shipping Labels and Cover All Markings

A used shipping box usually has old shipping labels and various markings left from the previous uses such as Universal Product Codes, barcodes, etc. It is important to remove or cover old labels and cover all markings, especially if you’re not familiar with them, to prevent any problems with your package. For example, if you don’t use a permanent marker to black out dangerous goods markings/labels on the box, the package will be detained because the box says it contains dangerous goods, even though in reality it doesn’t.

It is important that you remove old address labels and barcodes rather than simply glue a new shipping label over them. If there is an old shipping label beneath the new one, it might bleed through, making the new shipping label hard to scan.

Consider Turning the Box Inside Out

If your box has a company name or too many markings on it, you can try turning it inside out. To do this, gently pull apart the most vulnerable seam of the box (the one connected by factory glue) or use scissors to carefully cut it. Then turn the box inside out by folding it the opposite way. Use strong packing tape to secure the seam back together, making sure to tape both inside and outside for extra durability. It is also a good idea to use tape to reinforce all edges and seams, including the bottom of the box. Again, if you’re shipping fragile items, don’t risk by turning an old box inside out and get a new one instead.