More good news on the economic front comes from the dynamic world of cardboard. That's right, cardboard. In 2002, the world's cardboard manufacturers churned out more than 132 billion square meters of the stuff—enough to cover a moderate-sized U.S. state.
You can credit the Internet for the uptick. As Web-based commerce boomed—and it did in 2002, when online purchases in the United States alone grew by 48 percent—so too did the cardboard biz. It's not hard to see why. A decade ago, when most customers bought what they needed in retail stores, a widget maker would send one cardboard box containing 50 widgets to a retailer, which then sold them to 50 different consumers. Today, as more consumers buy their widgets direct from the manufacturer, the maker has to send out 50 separate shipments which requires—you guessed it—50 cardboard boxes.
Could it be long before we hear of a similar pop in the bubblewrap business?