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How FEFCO codes help you recognize a box

Classic folding boxes, boxes with flaps, boxes with lids, … Corrugated cardboard packaging takes many forms. To bring order to the chaos, FEFCO introduced an international coding. How it works? The principle is simple, let’s take a look!

Who or what is FEFCO?

Let’s start at the beginning: FEFCO codes were introduced by a non-profit organisation with headquarters in Brussels. The FEFCO – in full the Fédération Européenne des Fabricants de Carton Ondulé – is an association of European manufacturers of corrugated cardboard. She is engaged in researching economic, financial, technical and marketing issues that are of interest to the corrugated packaging industry. In addition to creating awareness about sustainable production, the launch of an international box coding is amongst other things one of FEFCO’s most important initiatives.

Why is a coding for corrugated boxes necessary?

FEFCO developed the coding in the late sixties to replace long and complicated verbal descriptions of packaging with clear codes, so that companies could communicate with customers all over the world from a common ground. The code has already been reviewed several times to respond to new technologies and evolutions in the market. For example, FEFCO adapted the interactive PDF, in which all codes can be found, in 2022 in function of innovative boxes for retail and e-commerce. The International Corrugated Case Association (ICCA) keeps the codes up-to-date.

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The most recent, 12th edition of the FEFCO coding was expanded based on new trends on the packaging market.

How does the FEFCO coding work?

Each FEFCO code consists of four numbers. These provide information about the type of box, the shape and the way in which the box closes. The code for the classic folding box as we all know it, is for example 0201. If necessary, the base code is completed with an additional number to indicate a deviation from the basic box.

You can recognize the box type by the first two numbers of a code. Nine ‘box types’ have been defined for boxes in solid and corrugated cardboard. For example 01 stands for rolls and plates, 02 for folding boxes and 03 for boxes with a lid. The other numbers are determined by the way the boxes are assembled: glued, stapled, taped, sewn, … And FEFCO also assigned certain numbers to how the inside is shaped. Therefore for a very versatile mix of packaging, you get an internationally recognizable coding, which eliminates misunderstandings about the shape or size of boxes.

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