Inside Sustainable and Branded Packaging

Industry News and Perspectives

11 Sep 2008 Replace Corrugated Boxes with Mailers

Mailing envelopes
It may seem ironic that any company that sells boxes would help you minimize their use, but we are committed to providing application appropriate solutions, not just what we may happen to have on our website or in our warehouse. Brad Shorr recently posted a terrific article titled 7 Ways to Reduce Corrugated Box Usage, and I encourage you to read it. But let's take it a step further and talk about how not only reduce corrugated usage, but eliminate corrugated usage completely. I am amazed at how often people use RSC style boxes when they are not really necessary. Probably because of their popularity and availability, boxes seem to be the standard or "go to" method of shipment, but there are times and applications when they are NOT the best choice. The cost of using a box usually includes the box, tape, cushioning materials or void fill, and a good deal of labor to form and seal the bottom, fill it with product and void fill, seal the top of the box and then label it. An envelope style mailer is typically less expensive from both a material and labor cost perspective, and is an underutilized alternative to standard boxes.
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09 Sep 2008 7 Ways to Reduce Corrugated Box Usage

Label printer applicator applying a label to a...Image via Wikipedia
It may not be possible to completely eliminate corrugated boxes from your packaging, but with a little imagination and design help, you can reduce amount of corrugated you need.
  1. Gap flaps. Regular slotted cartons (RSC) are the most common corrugated box style. RSCs are characterized by outer flaps that meet in the center. Leaving a small gap (1/4" to 1/2") between the flaps can add up to significant board reduction, especially for long length boxes.
  2. Corrugated trays. Trays, with a shrink film over wrap, are widely used in the beverage industry, but work beautifully for many other types of products -- even ones with a high profile. (We specialize in shrink automation and can help you analyze whether and how trays could work in your operation.)
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02 Sep 2008 Green Is Good … Book?

Heliotrope Haven
Since starting our own business almost two years ago, I have to admit we do not get to Sunday service as often as we used to. Ironic that at a time we need more Divine guidance and support than ever before, we are too busy to get there, but that is a completely different problem and story. I honestly would have preferred to sleep in but my wife lured me to church with the promise of a nice breakfast out, which has become an equally rare weekend treat. I sat in church, feeling guilty because my thoughts kept reverting back to my breakfast options. As my mind debated the benefits of bacon and French toast versus a Feta cheese and broccoli omelet, I listened to our pastor talking about the beauty and wonder of God’s work in the great outdoors. Most suburban Chicago guys like me usually get their nature on a flat screen TV, while our pastor is a “hike in the wilderness” type of guy so he really got my full attention when he mentioned that God speaks to him through nature. He also stated that it does his heart good to know that even a non-believing tree hugger has felt God’s presence through the wonder of His work in nature.
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02 Sep 2008 How to Select an Eco Friendly Void Fill, Part 2

"Bubble Wrap Packaging Material"
In the first part of this series, I described five general types of void fill --
  1. Loose fill materials
  2. Industrial papers
  3. Flexible foams and bubble material
  4. Expandable foam
  5. Inflatable air pillows
Now let's look at the qualities you may need from your void fill material, and see how the various options stack up. Surface protection. For glass, metal, and scratch-sensitive plastics, polypropylene (PP) foams are the least abrasive option, followed by polyethylene (PE) foams and bubble. Industrial papers, depending on the grade, may also work. Dust free. Loose fill, whether polystyrene or one of the various biodegradable varieties, are prone to flaking. Industrial papers sometimes contain dust as a result of the trimming process. For shipping things such as pharmaceutical or personal health care products, look in other directions for void fill.
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28 Aug 2008 How to Select an Eco Friendly Void Fill, Part 1

"Inner packing void fill materials"
The best thing about void fill is there are so many options. The worst thing about void fill is ... there are so many options. Selecting the right void fill material is difficult -- keeping a few things in mind will help you make the right decision. Void fill can be broken down into several categories. Loose fill materials, commonly called "packing peanuts", are made from a variety of eco friendly and not so eco friendly materials, including polystyrene, corn starch, and paper. The weight of loose fill varies depending on the material, but generally speaking, loose fill is inexpensive per application, but messy and not very effective for cushioning. Industrial papers include kraft paper, newsprint, and tissue paper. Most papers used for void fill have high PCW content, are fairly inexpensive per application, and are easier and cleaner to use than loose fill. Industrial papers are available in sheeted or roll form, making them easy to integrate into most packing operations. Multi-layered papers have become more popular in recent years, mainly due to shippers looking for alternatives to plastic-based packing materials. Multi-layer papers, which are typically made on-site, provide excellent cushioning, but are significantly heavier than plastic alternatives.
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26 Aug 2008 Sustainable Packaging – What Are Slips Sheets?

"Corrugated Slip Sheets"
In our efforts to help companies become more green, we often look for what we refer to as "low hanging sustainable packaging fruit". That is those little, easy changes that can be implemented quickly with little or no investment required. In fact the sweetest fruit is that which results in immediate savings -- and with the help of a good customer, we found a terrific area for immediate and easy green savings! Slip sheets are those almost invisible layers of packaging material you usually find between a pallet and a product load or even in between layers of a product load. Many companies will add a second slip sheet to the top of the load, in case the pallet is double stacked. Slip sheets provide some level of abrasion protection and are used primarily to keep products clean. On certain types of product loads, they can even be used to eliminate or avoid a pallet altogether. Slip sheets can be made of plastic, paper board or corrugated. Regardless of material type, what they almost always have in common is that slip sheets are certain to wind up as waste, as soon as the load arrives at its destination. 
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21 Aug 2008 Sustainable Packaging Links

chain links Here's a comprehensive look at sustainable packaging from a marketing perspective, by Jackie DeLise at Sustainable is Good. Her lexicon of sustainable terms is concise and very useful. From the Packaging Network, a sustainable rundown on PACK EXPO, confirming Joe Angel's (VP and Publisher of Packaging World) interview comments that 2008 will be the greenest PACK EXPO ever. The Green Routine explains that most plastic bags are made from natural gas, not oil. The author is not a fan of plastic bags, but observes that natural gas, much of which we produce domestically, is better than oil, which is mainly imported.
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19 Aug 2008 5 Reasons Why Sustainable Packaging Is Here to Stay

WASHINGTON - JULY 18:  U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) (L) and U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) testify during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill July 18, 2006 in Washington, DC. McCain and Obama are testifying about the

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

The business community is wary of consumer fads, and well it should be. We consumers, after all, are notoriously fickle. I've got ties I wore proudly five years ago that look ridiculous today, and I'll bet you have more than a few fashion skeletons in your closet as well. Now, some businesses view sustainability and sustainable packaging as the latest industrial version of the leisure suit, but I believe these issues are not trends at all, but represent a very long term change in the market's values and priorities. Here's why.
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12 Aug 2008 Sustainable Packaging and Branding On a Budget

"Water activated box sealing tapes" In the ever crowded markets we all work to serve we are often challenged with trying to stand out from our competition, while simultaneously working to create a greener, more Eco friendly image by delivering a more sustainable package to our customers.  Oh yes, we would also like to reduce or at least maintain our costs while doing it. Is this an impossible, contradictory combination of goals? I really don't believe so but to accomplish all three objectives, we have to make some well informed decisions and when we do, we are often surprised to find out the way is much easier than we thought. One simple way of answering all three of the above challenges is to utilize custom printed, water activated, gummed tape to seal the boxes we ship out to our customers and prospects.
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07 Aug 2008 Ecoblivious Packaging – Polystyrene Loose Fill

"polystyrene peanuts"
Some types of secondary packaging material are far worse for the environment than others. One of the worst, in our opinion, is the old standby for void fill, polystyrene loose fill. Folks who use this material because of its (perceived) low cost and (real) speed, are, well ... ecoblivious. Polystyrene is recyclable, but not easily so. The material is extremely lightweight and therefore expensive to ship to recycling centers, which are often a long distance away. While associated transportation costs have always been high, the economics are now even worse due to the rapid run up in fuel costs.
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