Packaging expertise

How to identify if your business is guilty of producing high levels of packaging waste

12 Dec 2019 —
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packaging waste

High levels of packaging waste can be a sign of inefficiencies. But when you’re in the midst of running a busy packaging operation it can be difficult to pinpoint just where and what those inefficiencies might be. Through their experience of helping many businesses address the issue of packaging waste over the years, our experts have identified the four most common causes. Here’s what they have learned.

High levels of packaging waste can be a sign of inefficiencies. But when you’re in the midst of running a busy packaging operation it can be difficult to pinpoint just where and what those inefficiencies might be. Through their experience of helping many businesses address the issue of packaging waste over the years, our experts have identified the four most common causes. Here’s what they have learned.

High levels of packaging waste can be a sign of inefficiencies. But when you’re in the midst of running a busy packaging operation it can be difficult to pinpoint just where and what those inefficiencies might be.

Excessive packaging waste is an environmental issue, and it can have serious financial implications for a business. Companies handling a minimum of 50 tonnes of packaging a year, or that have a turnover of at least £2 million, must pay a levy that is determined by the weight and type of packaging being handled and the ‘activities’ performed on that packaging (read more).  Using lots of different kinds of packaging and/or more packaging than is necessary can therefore have a significant impact on costs.  It can also burden the end consumer with the problem of how to dispose of packaging waste, creating a poor customer experience that may lead them to think twice about placing another order.

Our experts have identified four areas that are common causes of high levels of packaging waste:

1. Using too many packaging materials

When it comes to packaging, less is definitely more. Although it can be tempting to think the more packaging the better, especially if yours is a business handling fragile items, it is, however, rarely the case as some headline-grabbing stories have shown. 

Having to dispose of lots of the same kind of packaging material can be a real nuisance, but the problem is exacerbated when multiple kinds of packaging materials are used, for example, an item that arrives wrapped with bubble wrap, protective foam corners, perhaps some paper void fill to pack out a cardboard box that has also been wrapped in a plastic film, is going to leave consumers scratching their heads wondering how to recycle or dispose of it all. It’s a problem that, to some degree, can affect every point in the distribution chain.

For businesses to make the recycling of different materials viable, packaging waste must be stored until they have accumulated enough to make it attractive to recycling companies.  The problem for many smaller companies is that they don’t have the room to store multiple kinds of waste material, and it might be that they just don’t accumulate enough of some materials at all, and so packaging waste that could be recycled or recovered ends up in landfill. Whichever way you look at it, there’s a cost of some kind.


2. Using low quality packaging materials

Using cheaper packaging materials can be tempting, however, they could be adding to your packaging waste problem. Low quality stretch film, for example, is more likely to puncture during pallet wrapping leading to more film being needed to either rewrap the pallet or by more film being used in the first place to try and compensate for the poor functionality. By contrast, because high quality film is stronger and more durable, a roll of it goes much further, produces a more aesthetically-pleasing result, and, ultimately, means less packaging waste.  The same applies to the quality of boxes, tapes and envelopes: over time, buying cheaper, lower quality products can cost just as much, if not more. This is because packaging is more likely to become damaged during transit, which, in turn, can lead to a higher level of returns, all of which contributes to packaging waste.

3. Ageing or poorly maintained packaging machinery

Packaging machinery is designed to increase efficiency but as equipment ages things can start to go wrong.  An Antalis customer who was wrapping pallets on an Automatic Pallet Wrap system found they weren’t achieving the expected standard of load containment or aesthetic result. The cause: the aged machine was worn out and no longer stretching the film properly. This resulted in film being wasted on a regular basis. Following the introduction of a new, up-to-date machine, the company realised a 70% reduction in film waste.  Read more.


4. The kind of packaging material being used

Some materials produce more packaging waste than others. Many of these are the ones that also eat up valuable storage space, so a review of the kinds of packaging materials being used can reap rewards in more ways than one.

Consider void fill chips and bubble wrap, as an example.  Although there is no doubt that they are lightweight and effective, they are also high volume products that can cause a sizeable packaging waste problem for consumers.  Their use can also result in unnecessary processes on the packaging line with supplies needing to be replenished regularly. A more effective solution worth considering is on-demand void fill, which not only takes up minimal storage space but its products also tend to be recyclable.

Taking the time to review your operation can help you to identify opportunities to improve efficiency and reduce packaging waste, not to mention the positive impact it can have on the environment, your staff, customers and, of course, your budget.

If you need help reviewing your current packaging, contact our experts who are ready and waiting to help

 

 

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