A Corrugated Circle

Packaging rock stars, WestRock, are leaders in sustainability and innovation. Here’s what happened when they challenged us to embody both concepts in a corrugated booth intended for SPC Impact…

Corrugated material has a long history. First patented in England as a liner for tall hats in 1856, it entered the world on the back of a fashion fad before enterprising New Yorker, Albert Jones, saw its game-changing potential for packaging glassware 15 years later.

Corrugated material was first patented in England as a liner for tall hats. 

Early production plant for corrugated board must have looked impressive, with large reels of ‘wafer-cookie’ paper, fluted with the help of gears and steam, and then starch-glued onto flat liner boards to form material strong enough to make boxes. 

Jump forward 150 years and it’s striking how sustainable and versatile this material remains, especially when it’s manufactured by a company with WestRock’s expertise in providing innovative packaging solutions for brands worldwide.   

A note here – there’s a deep relationship between our companies, a trusting one.  CDI World and WestRock have been co-creating exhibitions for over five years. We’ve honed our partnership by collaborating with West Rock’s different packaging divisions, from Beverage to Packaging Automation to Retail.

Together, we’ve developed engrossing, hands-on exhibition booths that reveal both WestRock’s vast packaging know-how as well as their focus on sustainability. WestRock walk the walk in sustainability – they face it squarely in the mirror and publish their performance transparently using Global Reporting Initiative standards.

Having identified the 2020 Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) Expo as the year’s main event to drive business development, innovation, and thought leadership for sustainable packaging, WestRock wanted to create a fitting stage. And when they detailed their brief: to build a 20’ x 10’ booth out of corrugated material – well, we dove right in. Ideation and design concepts quickly followed.

WestRock Corrugated Exhibit

This wasn’t a typical event. As not only exhibitors, but also prominent speakers and sponsors, WestRock were leading the agenda. We felt this booth must, in its construction and presentation, reflect WestRock interests in sustainable, recyclable and custom solutions.

Given the nature of this particular show, WestRock was looking for a design that was easy to set up and take down. We accepted the challenge and worked to create a booth that was no muss, fuss, nuts or bolts.

With drawings completed and approved, the activity moved into our shop where learning to treat corrugated as both a construction andfinishing material rather than simply protective packaging was a unique test for our team.        

WestRock manufactures many different sizes, combinations and types of sustainable corrugated and for our basic construction material we chose their FanFold product – think giant sheets of 80s computer paper. We made walls and tables by cutting and layering up sheets to the required thickness before gluing and pressing them together. 

Using our nifty CNC router, we then carved design elements, like WestRock’s distinctive angular logo, refining and finishing the edges with precision. Soon, our team had a working version of a ‘Plug & Play’ rigid structure booth, all without a single piece of hardware.

Minimally elegant and surprisingly strong, with three tables for displaying WestRock’s latest sustainable packaging, this booth is lean, clean and gentle on the planet, and when properly shipped and handled, can hold-up for multiple shows. 

Here at CDI World, we had a blast delivering on this challenge. We’d also like to believe  those Victorian pioneers would be proud and maybe a little awed to see how well their invention has developed to meet modern concerns.

Yet to be publicly unveiled due to event cancellation, we can’t wait for this booth to roll out from our dock, hit the interstate and see some action on the show floor when circumstances permit.

And when the booth eventually does retire, it’s satisfying to know that WestRock, as one of the largest integrated recyclers, can sustainably reprocess every last fiber – completing the perfect 360-degree corrugated circle.