Packing for Sustainability

14 of September 2016 | By John Granville | Posted in Inside Track

Packing materials are the unsung heroes of nearly all our customers. These materials are also the source of a lot of non-biodegradable landfill and ocean pollutants throughout the world. The good news is that if you want to switch over to environmentally sustainable packing, you now have many options that are competitive on price – and you’re already saving a lot on your pallet courier service. Using all eco-friendly materials could be another point in your favour with customers.

 

Most National Pallets customers are small or microbusinesses and, we’d guess, don’t have machines that make void fill packing for them. If you can afford to buy or lease one, though, these machines can make your business far more sustainable. The uncoated Kraft paper run through the machines is recyclable and biodegradable. You can rent one for as little as £25 per month from Rajapack. By using rolls of Kraft paper, you save money and environment-wise on the shipment and packaging of the packing materials themselves (such as the plastic bags that carry poly chips or foam peanuts).

 

Bubble wraps and other inflatables have their good and bad points: in the UK, they can usually be recycled, but you’re depending on the recipient to do so and it isn’t necessarily easy. Wraps and films can’t be put into the recycle bins because they jam most equipment, so you have to take it someplace that handles these materials. This packing choice is definitely not guaranteed for sustainability, though it provides the least labour-intensive way to safely pack items such as aerosol cans.

 

Other common void fill materials are, surprisingly, already on their way to greater sustainability, but you have to pay attention when ordering. The green foam peanuts are made of mostly post-consumer material and are recyclable, pink means they’ve been chemically treated for particular shipping needs, and white means they are mostly unrecycled and might not be recyclable. In addition, many companies are now making packing peanuts in starch-based materials that dissolve in water.

 

Companies like VoidFill Packaging specialise in sustainable packing materials at costs that small businesses can afford. Paper materials often work out to a better price per cubic foot than polymers or plastics.

 

For car parts and engines, reusable plastic or wooden crates will continue life outside the landfill for months if not years to come. Ebay often has wooden crates that can hold engines for less than £20 each. If you’re shipping to the EU, a wooden crate should be either made of composite wood or have a stamp indicating that it has been treated for pests and bacteria.

 

Note that if you are using an enclosed crate, you must still drain all fluids from engines and transmissions. We know you wouldn’t try to ship them without doing that! Read our post on engine shipping if you’re a first-timer.

John Granville

By John Granville

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