The problem with plastic

Every bit of plastic ever made still exists

Our reliance on plastic is at an all-time high, and a lot of the plastic we encounter on a daily basis is single-use. From drinks bottles, straws, stickers on fruit, our clothing and even tea bags, plastic is all around us.

What’s the problem?

Plastic is very durable and does not biodegrade – which is what makes it a great material for making so many things. But, because plastic doesn’t biodegrade it will remain in our environment forever.

Swimming in plastic: What's the harm?

Every year, up to 12.8 million metric tons of plastic ends up in our oceans.[i] Plastic can take up to 500 years to decompose and, even then, it will still be present in our environment in the form of microplastics. Microplastics are an ever-growing problem; because of their small size they are difficult to clean up, and marine wildlife accidentally consumes them. In turn, fish and seafood that ends up on our dinner tables have been found to contain microplastics.[ii] This poses a danger to our health as plastic absorbs contaminants from the surroundings which could pose a significant risk to our health.

What can we do?

On a more local scale, we can all make small changes to curb our plastic consumption. Buying a reusable cup for your morning coffee or saying no to a plastic straw in your drink might seem insignificant, but if everyone makes the effort it can make a difference.

What we can do to reduce plastic consumption

Globally, protective packaging materials make up almost half of all plastic waste. Our Eco Flo loose fill is completely biodegradable and is an easy swap which will help to curb your plastic consumption.

Find out exactly how long some of the most common plastics take to biodegrade, and the alternatives that are better for the environment in Swimming in Plastic: what’s the harm?

[i] https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/7/3/17514172/how-much-plastic-is-in-the-ocean-2018

[ii] http://www.fao.org/in-action/globefish/fishery-information/resource-detail/en/c/1046435/

How is bubble wrap made?

Protective packaging has one of the most important roles to play in any packaging operation – keeping an item safe from knocks, bumps and shocks, so that it gets to its destination intact and undamaged.

An essential material in this range has always been bubble wrap packaging, ever since it’s invention way back in 1957.  It’s lightweight, strong, soft, easy to work with and offers amazing protection for almost anything – on top of that it’s great fun to pop and an ultimate stress reliver!

In this post we’re focusing on bubble wrap in detail; looking at how it’s made, how it was invented, how it can be used for packaging and how to recycle bubble wrap too!

Bubble wrap packagingImage source: https://pixabay.com/en/bubble-wrap-blow-packaging-1183728/ 

So, how is bubble wrap made?

You might be surprised to learn that bubble wrap begins life as tiny beads of resin, almost like grains of rice.  Several different resins are used for their different properties and these are combined into the material that we know and use as bubble wrap.

The tiny resin beads are melted down together at over 450 degrees Celsius, where they combine and form into a thin film which is the base material for making bubble wrap. This film is then flattened to the required thickness before being fed through rollers with small holes in.

As the film travels over these rollers, air is vacuumed onto it, pushing it into the small holes which create the air bubbles that give it such good protective qualities.

With the air bubbles blown into the film, it’s then run across more rollers which seal it with another layer of film, trapping the air inside and ensuring that the small air bubbles stay contained.

Finally, it’s cut to width and perforated so it can be rolled up into large, industrial sized rolls.  After passing quality checks, it’s then shipped out to be used all around the world.

Transparent bubble wrapImage source: https://pixabay.com/en/bubble-wrap-bubble-wrap-transparent-316133/

Who invented bubble wrap?

Bubble wrap was invented in 1957, not by a single person but by two inventors named Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes. If you’re wondering where was bubble wrap invented, it was first created in Hawthorne, New Jersey in the United States.

Alfred and Marc were not trying to create a packaging material at all but were in fact working to invent a three-dimensional tactile wallpaper by sealing two shower curtains together!

Unfortunately, their invention failed to sell as a wallpaper so they tried marketing it as a greenhouse insulator, also with limited success.  It wasn’t until several years later in 1961 when the packaging and protection offered by their invention was fully realised.

The name ‘Bubble Wrap’ was branded by Sealed Air corporation (which was founded by Alfred and Marc) and IBM became their first large customer, who used it to protect their sensitive computers during shipment.  Over 50 years later it’s used all over the world and is one of the most common packaging materials in use today.

Rajapack Bubble wrap rolls

Is bubble wrap recyclable?

This amazing material not only excels at offering great protection but surprisingly it can be recycled too.  If you are wondering “is bubble wrap eco-friendly?”  then the answer is yes, absolutely.

There are several ways you can recycle it; some local councils are able to collect it along with their standard recycling collections, others offer recycling facilities at local sites which you can take it to.  You’ll need to check with your local council to find out if they accept bubble wrap.  You can easily find out about local recycling collections through the ‘Recycling Collections’ section of the government website, by simply entering your postcode.

For a more eco-friendly packaging alternative to standard bubble wrap, take a look at recycled green bubble wrap. This is made from at least 15% recycled polythene for less impact on the environment and is fully recyclable after use.  It’s green colouring makes it identifiable to customers that it’s not your standard bubble wrap and can help to display your businesses’ green credentials. 

Rajapack recycled green bubble wrap

How to use bubble wrap for packaging

As a lightweight and strong material, bubble wrap can be used in many ways for packaging and protection.  To find out how to use bubble wrap, we’ve included some information below.

Bubble wrap features a flat side and a side with the cushioning bubbles.  A common question we get asked is, “which way round should you wrap items for the best protection?” We always recommend to wrap the bubbles next to the item you wish to protect, so usually that means the bubbles are on the inside.  This gives the best protection by placing the cushioning directly against the item.

For protecting individual items in cartons from bumps and knocks, prewrap bubble wrap around each one before placing into a carton or box.  This will provide a layer of air cushioning, offering excellent protection in combination with the strength of the item.

Use packaging tape to fully secure bubble wrap, tightly sealing the item inside.  This will ensure you get the most protection from the cushioning material.  If it’s only loosely wrapped, then it is likely to slip during transit and won’t be protected..

If you are shipping parcels with several items inside, bubble wrap can be used to layer and separate them, providing a soft layer of air cushioning while preventing products from moving around loosely during shipping.  Divide your bubble wrap into squares, and these can then be placed inside the parcel to cushion and protect between items.

How to use bubble wrap for packaging
https://pixabay.com/en/scissors-tape-blister-foil-1986599/

There are also other bubble wrap packaging items available which can be used to protect smaller, fragile or sensitive items in the post or while in storage.  Bubble wrap bags offer excellent protection for sensitive items, providing all round cushioning and protection.  They’re great for use with an envelope or carton to offer an extra layer of protection.

Rajapack bubble wrap bags

For fragile or sensitive items such as electronics, anti-static bubble wrap bags offer a layer of air cushioning and prevent antistatic discharge.  Finally, for envelopes with extra cushioning take a look at bubble envelopes which offer a simple way to seal and protect mailed items in one complete protective package using bubble wrap.

If you’d like more information about bubble wrap, our range of protective packaging products, or help on selecting the right packaging for your business simply get in touch with our team of Packaging Specialists. Simply visit www.rajapack.co.uk or contact our team on 0800 542 44 28, or sales@rajapack.co.uk.

When does a cardboard box become more than an essential packaging supply?

Cardboard boxes are all around us in many different shapes and forms. Businesses big and small need them for storing, transporting, and protecting goods. But, separate from this, unassuming cardboard boxes can be found in homes around the country – maybe tucked away at the back of wardrobes or hiding under beds. These boxes contain hidden treasures, the mementoes of past times we want to, quite literally, hold on to.

The science of memory

Curating our past in the form of a memory box can help us keep it alive. We remember things because our brain makes new connections between the neurons in our brain when we learn something new. The more times we’re exposed to something the stronger the connection becomes; these connections can also become weaker the less we’re exposed.[i]

It’s because of this memory boxes can help people suffering from Alzheimer’s or Dementia, exposing them to objects from their past can help them recall their memories of people and places. The same is true for each of us, the act of physically opening a box of memories and holding them in our hands helps us feel closer to our past.

How do we remember?

But, how does keeping a memory box actually help us to remember? Today we have cameras on hand to capture every moment, but it isn’t often we delve back into these digital memories. And is the act of looking at past moments on a screen the same as actually holding onto something physical?

We wanted to find out if keeping a physical memory box makes a difference to the way we remember our past, so we asked the experts. We spoke to a Clinical Psychologist, a Therapist, and a Research Professor to discover what they think about how our memories are shaped. Find out what they said and see how much you can remember in our look into Making Memories.

[i] https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/healthy_aging/healthy_mind/inside-the-science-of-memory

Corrugated cardboard boxes 101: What you need to know

Cardboard is the one of the most popular packaging materials in use today, and we don’t expect that to change anytime soon.  It’s lightweight, strong and resilient, offering excellent protection for almost any item.  But did you know that it’s corrugated cardboard that gives boxes their strength?

Today we’re focusing on precisely that – the material that gives corrugated cardboard boxes their superior strength and resilience.  In this post we’ll be covering everything corrugate related, including how cardboard boxes are made, when corrugated cardboard was invented and how it works, as well as tips on recycling; how to shred, cut and dispose of corrugate.

Corrugated cardboard boxes - What you need to knowImage source: https://pixabay.com/en/cardboard-perspective-texture-467819

How is corrugated cardboard made?

First we’ll start with the basics – just what is corrugated cardboard?  Put simply, it’s the thick, strong arrangement of card that makes up the walls of a cardboard box.  It’s this combination of materials that gives cardboard their high strength and resistance to bumps, knocks and crushing.

The cardboard that makes it up is arranged in a concertina, zig-zag like like pattern which gives strength to both sides of the box. This is held in place and secured with a layer of paper on either side which is called the fluting.  Fixed in place firmly with strong adhesive, it can be made of different types of paper such as Kraft or Test, and it’s these outer layers that keeps the corrugate securely contained inside.  For more information about the inner liners and fluting, take a look at our beginner’s lesson in corrugate cardboard and cardboard in a recent post about cardboard box disposal.

How is corrugated cardboard madeImage source: https://pixabay.com/en/corrugated-cardboard-boxes-flutes-2225141/

So, exactly when was corrugated cardboard invented?  Its history goes back a long way – the earliest reports of it being patented were in England in 1856. Although it was not thought of as a packaging material at the time and was mainly used for other things such as hat lining!

The first recorded packaging and shipping patent for corrugate was in the United States and issued on December the 19th, 1871, where it was used for wrapping bottles and glass lantern chimneys.   In the years that followed it became a popular packaging material, with wooden crates and boxes replaced by corrugated paper shipping cartons from the early 1900s.

With the development of this resourceful material, cardboard boxes could be readily made for reliable shipping and storage, but how are cardboard boxes made?  The process begins by making the inner corrugated board – this is done by a large machine called a corrugator.  Board is fed into the corrugator, heated and pressed into the concertina form that we see above – this forms the central filling of the cardboard box wall.  Two outer liners, the fluting, are then fed through and securely glued to the corrugate using very strong adhesive.  Once the glue is set using steam, the flat complete board can be cut into large sheets of various sizes which are used to form the flat packed cardboard boxes that you receive from your packaging supplier. At Rajapack we stock over 600 different sizes and types of cardboard boxes , so you can imagine the cutting and loading process can become quite complicated!

What is corrugated cardboard used for?

So, just how does corrugated cardboard work?  This innovative construction features three separate materials and gets its super strength from the combination of all 3 working together.  In the centre, the concertina card is tightly but firmly packed within two layers of fluting and this gives strength across the width of the card to both sides of the material. It’s this concertina structure that makes the card super strong.

With many different types of cardboard box available, we often get asked which is the right one to use, and how thick is corrugated cardboard?  The great thing about how it’s made means that many different types and strengths can be produced.

Some use thinner, more lightweight materials with a single layer of corrugate for a light and strong box – these are called single wall boxes.  Others can use several layers of corrugate made from much thicker card.  For these boxes, the material can feel as strong as steel! Our ultimate strength triple wall boxes can support up to an impressive 500Kg in weight, all from a few layers of cardboard!

Corrugated cardboard 101 - Single double and triple wall boxes

Why is corrugated cardboard so strong?

We already know that corrugated board was patented for use as a shipping material in 1871, and this was for single side, single face corrugated board with one layer of paper on one layer of corrugate.  But who invented corrugated cardboard? The patent was registered in New York City by Albert Jones – you can actually see the first patent for corrugate as this is hosted online, along with the description and technical information registered – a fascinating piece of packaging history!

But just why is corrugated cardboard a good insulator and why is it so strong? The main strength of corrugate comes from it’s concertina like zig zag shape.  Being contained within fluting by strong adhesive, cardboard is strongest along the length of the material and it’s this structure that gives it strength to support both sides.

Is corrugated cardboard recyclable?

As Rajapack is number 1 in Europe for packaging, we must be mindful of how our products can be disposed of safely and in an environmentally responsible way. So, is corrugated cardboard biodegradable?

The good news is that yes, it is biodegradable. It will break down in the environment over time, though it can take a long time depending on the environment that it’s in.  If it’s wet and broken up into small pieces then it will degrade much faster, so if you have a compost bin at your home or business then cardboard can be a great addition to your compost.

Boxes can be quite large once broken down (a topic we’ve covered on the blog recently – ‘How to break down cardboard boxes’) particularly if they’re pallet or export boxes.  If you don’t have a great deal of space to store them on site in between recycling collections, then you may wish to shred your cardboard.

If you want to know how to shred corrugated cardboard, it’s simple and straightforward.  You could use an automatic cardboard shredder which perforates and converts corrugated cardboard into a strong, shock absorbent netting material which can be used as packaging.  Alternatively, you can shred it manually by soaking it in water which makes it very easy to tear and cut through with normal scissors if it’s single or double wall.  For triple wall, you might need something a little stronger like a box cutter detailed below, or some industrial scissors that offer more strength.

Even though it does break down, it’s always our preference to recycle cardboard when you can – all our boxes are made from 75% recycled fibres on average.  Local recycling collections for paper and card are usually frequent and the recycling loop for corrugate is so efficient that used boxes can be recycled, remade and reused in just two weeks!  Cardboard recycles very well, without loss of strength or rigidity so it’s an excellent material to recycle.

Crushed corrugated cardboard boxes ready to be recycledImage source: https://unsplash.com/photos/1PxGp8kkQyk

Corrugated cardboard is also great to use for packing – placing in boxes to separate items to hold them securely in place.  The fact that it’s lightweight, easy to handle and cut means it’s perfect for many different uses.  If you’re wondering how to cut corrugated cardboard then don’t worry, it’s easy.  A small cutting knife, called a box cutter will do the job with ease and glide through corrugate easily.

Open a corrugated cardboard box with box cutters

What is non-corrugated cardboard?

Finally we’re looking at non-corrugated cardboard as an alternative.  This is exactly the opposite of corrugate as you would expect! In this material, cardboard is simply layered on top of each other, in the similar way to how puff pastry is made.  This can make the cardboard material smoother, so it’s good for printing striking visuals or designs onto.

It’s mainly used for lightweight products, presentation boxes and you may have encountered it in things like iPhone boxes or for other gadgets.  Generally, it’s not recommended to be used as a serious packaging material, though can be cheaper than corrugate due to its simpler and more lightweight construction.

If you’d like more information about corrugated cardboard, our range of cardboard boxes and packaging supplies, or help on selecting the right cardboard packaging for your business, get in touch with our team of packaging experts who will be happy to help. Simply visit www.rajapack.co.uk or contact our team on 0800 542 44 28, or sales@rajapack.co.uk.

Your Guide to Strapping Machines

One of the most secure ways to fix a pallet or join parcels together is with strapping.  It’s a topic we’ve recently covered, detailing what is strapping and how to choose the right strapping. In this post we’re focusing purely on strapping machines, which can help speed up and simplify the strapping process. We’ll be detailing what they are, the different types available and how to use them, with a final focus on polypropylene strapping.

Strapping machines and strapping tools

What is a Strapping Machine?

There are 3 main uses of strapping; pallet strapping, to join one parcel to another, and to offer more strength.  It can be used to secure almost anything, from fragile products to bulky loads. A strapping machine is electrically powered and uses strapping to consistently create a secure seal on parcels and packages that is guaranteed to hold.

These machines do all the hard work, saving time, energy and materials in a typical packaging process.  They do this without the need of manual strapping tools such as tensioners, cutters, or combination tools.  The tension and strap strength can all be set by the operator, giving total control over the entire process of strapping.  If you’re regularly strapping parcels and shipments, then consider one to speed up your operation and improve efficiency.

There are three types of strap machines; an automatic strapping machine, semi-automatic strapping machine, and handheld strapping tools – all with different benefits and applications depending on your requirements

A semi-automatic, handheld and automatic strapping machine

1 – A semi-automatic, handheld and automatic strapping machine.

Automatic strapping machines are high performance, work best on high volume lines and are a bigger investment. Completely automated, they’re able to dispense up to 65 straps per minute making them ideal for production lines.  In one smooth motion they strap a parcel, sealing and cutting the strap to size as per the tension level set by the operator. Watch the automatic strapping machine in action!

Watch the Rajapack automatic strapping machine video

Semi-automatic strapping machines are lower cost and are more suited to lower volume operations, though still able to seal up to 24 straps per minute.  They tension, seal and cut the strapping in one motion, though with these machines the strapping has to be fed in manually so some operator work is required.

Handheld strapping machines are the smallest and most portable. These battery powered machines are lightweight and easy to handle. They’re ideal if you don’t have the space for a large machine or need to strap items in different locations.  These small machines tension, seal and cut quickly and efficiently and can be pre-programmed to set the tension strength.

How does a Strapping Machine work?

Depending on what type of strapping machine you’re using, it will work in one of three different ways. Below we’ve outlined each type of machine and detailed how they work so you can be fully informed before committing to a new packaging machine for your business.

Automatic strapping machines

These fully automatic machines are the quickest and simplest to use once they have been prepared and setup.  With the tension set, simply place a parcel on the machine and begin the strapping process with the touch of a button.  The items are fully strapped automatically, with the strap tensioned and cut by the machine.  The parcel can then simply be removed, ready for the next shipment.

Semi-automatic strapping machines

These machines require a little more operator involvement than automatic machines, as the user feeds in the strapping manually around each parcel they wish to strap.  This is a simple operation but takes slightly longer than using an automatic machine.  Once the parcel has been placed onto the machine in the correct orientation, the user simply has to feed the strapping through, engage the machine, and the strapping is tightened to the set tension automatically and cut in one smooth simple action.

Handheld strapping

These small, portable devices work quite differently to the larger machines above. A small handheld device, they are simple to operate, lightweight and easy to handle.  The strapping has to be wrapped around the item and placed in the machine where it then automatically tightens, tensions and seals the strap in one smooth action.  Being handheld, they can be used vertically or horizontally and the tension strength can be set on the machine.

They’re powered by a rechargeable Li-Ion battery that typically take 30 – 40 minutes to fully charge and is capable of applying up to 440 strapping cycles per charge, depending on which device you use – plenty to get through a good amount of parcels in between charges.

How to use a Strapping Machine

Depending on which type of strapping machine you’re using, the operation will vary slightly.  Below we’ve outlined the basic steps in how to operate the different types of machine.

Automatic & semi-automatic strapping machines

These two types of machines work in a similar manner, being an upright machine with a flat surface to work from.  For both, the strapping is typically fed from the bottom or the side of the machine, where the strapping reel is placed and feeds into the machine.

To operate, one must place the parcel in the specified spot on the machine, so that the position of the strap is in the correct place to wrap around the item.  For semi-automatic machines, you’ll then need to feed the strap over the top of the item and into the other side where it is fed back into the machine (automatic machines do this part without the need of manual intervention.)

Engaging the machine with the on button will then tighten and tension the strap, cut and seal it securely around the parcel. It can then quickly and easily be removed and the next one placed on.  This simple and seamless process makes it ideal for quickly strapping parcels.

Handheld strapping machines

Otherwise known as handheld strapping tools, are convenient as they are portable, these small machines require a little more manual work to operate but the flexibility they offer for strapping is second to none.  To operate, manually loop the plastic strapping, either PET strapping (also known as poly strapping) or polypropylene strapping all the way around the pallet, parcel or cartons.   Once looped, feed both ends of the strapping into the handheld machine.  With a pull of the trigger, it will then tighten and tension the strap, cut and fully seal it, giving a secure fit all around the item.

How to use Polypropylene Strapping

Polypropylene strapping (also known as PP) is one of the lightest and most versatile materials, making it ideal for sealing, reinforcing and securing lighter loads.

How to use polypropylene strapping

When using PP strapping with a machine, polypropylene machine strapping must be used – this is specifically designed for use in machines with regular embossing and straight parallel edges.  This strapping is easier to work with and handle than heavier duty materials such as steel or polyester strapping, but gloves should still be worn when handling and loading this strapping onto a machine for use.

A popular question asked is how to use a polypropylene strapping machine, however there is no specific strapping machine for PP strapping, you can use an automatic, semi-automatic strapping machine or handheld strapping tools. 

If you are strapping a pallet or strapping boxes, then make sure you use the right material for the job.  Take a look at our guide to choosing the right strapping to help you decide.

If you’d like more information about strapping machines, systems or advice on which may be best suited for your packaging operation, simply get in touch with our team of packaging machine experts who are on hand to help.  Simply visit www.rajapack.co.uk or contact our team on 0800 142 26 46, or machines@rajapack.co.uk.

New Product Launch: Potato Based Packaging Protection

Following Earth Over Shoot Day earlier this month, we’re continuing with our environmental theme to help you go green. Take a look at the AirWave Void Fill Pillow System, one of the most revolutionary and eco-friendly packaging machines we’ve seen. This environmentally friendly packaging product uses left over potato peelings to make void fill packaging that can easily be composted at home!  To find out more about this innovative product and what it could offer your packaging operation, read on.

The AirWave - Eco-friendly packaging made from potato
Capturing air to protect packages
 

Air cushion packaging is very effective void fill, with a range of machines and cushion sizes available.  Rather than using physical void fill material such as packing peanuts, Kraft paper or tissue, air pillows are lightweight (being 98% air and 2% cushion), small and easy to store and can be made up in seconds with the right equipment.  Not only that, the abundance of air makes the contents of the pillow filling very easy to source!  The use of plastic which all pillows are made from, has been the only environmental concern to date…that is until now.

Turning potato waste into protective packaging with the AirWave

You may already be using air cushions in your packaging operation with a Mini Pak’r or a similar machine.  Small, compact and highly efficient, these machines are only slightly larger than a standard laptop so even a small packaging operation could easily support them.  They quickly produce air cushions for filling space in parcels and cartons, preventing items moving during shipping and keeping the contents safe and secure.

Operationally, this efficient AirWave works in a similar way to other air cushion machines; quick, quiet and compact, it can produce enough cushions for four packing stations with up to 8 – 10 metres of cushion per minute – a lot of volume from such a small machine!  It’s able to produce both air filled cushions or quilts which are inflated and sealed in one smooth process through the machine, running at ≤60dB it keeps things nice and quiet.

Giving potatoes a new lease of life

Air pillows have been historically made from plastic which can be difficult to recycle depending on the facilities and services you have locally.  The AirWave is an industry first which uses a biocompostable biopolymer material as its air cushions – with no plastic in sight! The AirWave void fill biocompostable pillow film is 100% plastic free, meaning it’s naturally sourced material will fully break down in a normal compost environment.

Giving potatoes a new lease of life into protective packaging

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/doyland/4985322023/

The fun part is that these biopolymers are made from potato! They’re completely formed from natural potato peelings and other waste by products of the potato processing industry – it’s this source of material which means they are able to completely break down in the environment.

Potato peelings can be given a new lease of life once their work is done providing protection to parcels and products all around the world.  After they have been disposed of and made into compost, they can then be used to help grow new potatoes in the garden!

The science behind potato air pillows

AirWave pillows are household-biodegradable, meaning they can be disposed of in your normal compost that you’ll find in a residential property. No special disposal method is needed at all and they won’t have any negative impact on the quality of compost, making them ideal for home recycling. Finally, the pillows fully comply with standards for compostability (EN 13432) which means they’ll degrade by 90% physically within 12 weeks, and biologically within 6 months.

Eco-friendly protective packaging made from potato wasteSustainable packaging - Pototo waste can be made into protective packaging

Images sources: https://morguefile.com/p/1058151
https://www.flickr.com/photos/facilitybikeclub/3321732096/

We’re very impressed with the environmental innovation that AirWave has brought to the protective packaging industry, it perfectly aligns with our strong stance on environmental protection and helps our customers go green. For August we’re offering a discount of 10% off all orders of bio pillow film rolls, so hurry to take advantage of this limited time offer.

If you’d like more information about void fill packaging, air cushion machines or are interested in being one of the first to try out our new AirWave pillows on your packaging line, simply get in touch with our team of packaging machine experts who are on hand to help.  Visit www.rajapack.co.uk or contact our team on 0800 142 26 46, or machines@rajapack.co.uk.

How to Recycle Packaging Materials

Protective packaging is usually made from strong and resilient materials, so it can absorb knocks and bumps, but this can make it more difficult to dispose of and recycle packaging materials correctly.  In this post we’re focusing on how you can recycle and dispose of protective packaging correctly in a safe and eco-friendly way.  We’ll be focusing on bubble wrap, foam and paper packaging.

Protecting your products is at the heart of everything we do here at Rajapack, it’s what makes protective packaging one of our most important and popular ranges.  These items have been designed and constructed to offer ultimate protection during shipping and transport whether it’s in the form of rigid blocks, soft cushioning, water resistance or protection from electricity.

How to recycle packaging materials

Image source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-pile-of-ripped-carton-1055712/

Is bubble wrap recyclable?

As one of the most widely used packaging materials available, a common question we get asked from our customers is “can bubble wrap be recycled?” The good news is that yes, bubble wrap can be recycled.  Some local councils can collect it in along with other plastics in their normal recycling collection, including items such as milk cartons, drinks bottles and carrier bags.

Is bubble wrap recycable

Do check with your local council though to see if they accept bubble wrap, as not all are able to.  If they don’t then there’s sure to be a recycling site local to you which does accept bubble wrap.  Simply store it and you can take it along to your local recycling site for proper disposal.  It’s easy to find out about local recycling collections through the ‘Recycling Collections’ section of the government website, simply enter your postcode.

Can Bubble Wrap Envelopes be recycled?

Bubble envelopes are made from a combination of polythene and paper, with cushioning air bubbles inside and a paper outer with soft surface that can easily be written on.  Because they’re made from two separate materials, bubble envelopes can’t be recycled whole.

Can bubble envelopes be recycled

The paper outer and plastic inner are usually bonded together and can’t be processed together for recycling.  If you can separate the paper outer from the polythene inner, then the paper can be recycled along with standard paper and card, while the bubble wrap inner can be recycled with standard bubble wrap at a recycling site.  These are offered by local councils and you can find your closest by visiting the ‘Recycling Collections’ link above.

Is packaging foam recyclable?

Foam packaging is a protective product which offers great stability and cushioning, while being lightweight, easy to handle, cut and use.  It excels at protecting a wide range of products and parcels whether wrapping, blocking, bracing or cushioning.

Is packaging foam recyclable

Unfortunately, it’s not simple nor straightforward to recycle foam packaging.  The lightweight, low density properties which make it so good to use do however make it difficult to recycle easily.  In some areas options can be very limited, as not all recycling centres can handle or process this material – but there are some centres that do, so check in your local area to find out what options are available to you.

Our Packaging Specialists always get asked, how to dispose of foam packaging? Find out where your closet recycling site is that will accept polystyrene and foam packaging.  You can easily do this through the Recycling Locator on the Recycle now website. Select ‘Recycle a specific item’ then select Plastic packaging and Polystyrene in the ‘Which type of material’ menu.  If there isn’t a centre close to you, then consider re-use of foam packaging instead of disposing.  Because of the strength and reliance of foam it can be used time and time again to securely pack items so doesn’t need to be disposed of after just one use. 

Are foam packing peanuts recyclable?

One of the most popular loose fill packaging solutions and one you’ve no doubt encountered before are packing peanuts.  These small but strong chips provide great protection while being incredibly lightweight.  But can foam packaging peanuts be recycled? Historically, they have been made from similar materials to standard foam packaging (polystyrene) making them difficult to recycle and dispose of in an eco-friendly way.

Are foam packing peanuts recyclable

Recently manufacturers of packing peanuts have developed more eco-friendly alternatives with the creation of biodegradable packing peanuts.  These break down naturally in the environment over time and can be made from renewable resources, lessening their impact on the environment and making them simple and straightforward to dispose of.

Can you recycle packing paper?

Paper packaging is one of our favourite protective materials.  It’s lightweight, easy to store and can be used for all manner of packaging applications, for packing, wrapping, protecting or presenting. It’s great for the environment too, with all paper packaging being fully recyclable.  From strong and resilient Kraft paper for packing and protecting items, crinkle cut shredded paper for soft cushioning and presentation, through to soft tissue paper for wrapping delicate and fragile items, there’s a suitable type of paper for almost any packaging need.

Can you recycle packing paper

Disposal of paper packing is simple and straightforward too. Many of the paper packaging that we sell is made from 100% recycled paper (the entire product is made from old paper products) and is fully recyclable, so it can be used time and time again and easily recycled along with your standard paper and cardboard collections.

If you’d like more information about the range of environmental protective packaging that we offer, any help or advice on recycling packaging materials or the best way to dispose of it, then simply get in touch with our team of packaging experts who are on hand to help.

Simply visit www.rajapack.co.uk or contact our team on 0800 542 44 28, or sales@rajapack.co.uk.

Earth Over Shoot Day, the Day Humanity Needs to Change

Earth Over Shoot Day and Rajapack

In 2017 the UK’s Earth Over Shoot Day fell on August 2nd, this year it will be 1st August. Our Ecological Footprint has moved forward by one day as we consume more of the Earth’s resources and services faster than it can be generated, the day that marks the over consumption is called Earth Over Shoot Day.

To help put the rate of consumption into a tangible perspective, last year we commissioned James Lake, a sculptor who works with the medium of cardboard, to depict humanity’s depletion of the Earth’s natural resources highlighting the seriousness of this environmental concern.

The Art of Recycling with Rajapack

Pictured: James Lake for The Art of Recycling

The Art of Recycling campaign highlights the change needed, the rate of consumption and the necessity to recycle and find more sustainable solutions to waste management. With James’ creativity and skill he is able to craft sculptures into something with a much greater value, all from a simple and unassuming item such as a low cost cardboard box and most importantly, from recyclable material.

In today’s society consumption and waste is higher than ever before. A perfect example is the growth of ecommerce and online shopping which has led to an increase of packaging used for parcels and the resulting waste created, and also the increase in petrol and diesel usage.  However, some changes can be made to help offset the damaging effects, such as electric or hybrid eco-friendly delivery vans or even cycle couriers, and online retailers choosing environmentally friendly packaging alternatives made from recycled materials.

Steps can be taken to #MoveTheDate, what will you do?

How to dispose of your used cardboard boxes

With over 600 different sizes of cardboard boxes to choose from, we’re confident that we can supply a box to fit any size or shape of product. But once something has been successfully shipped the cardboard then must be properly disposed of.

Everyday at Rajapack we get asked questions about how to recycle cardboard boxes or how to recycle cardboard boxes at home.  These questions are so popular that we’ve decided to focus this post on exactly that, including useful info on where to recycle cardboard boxes.

How to dispose of your used cardboard boxes

Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/fyaTq-fIlro

 A beginner’s lesson in corrugate cardboard and cardboard

If you’re not familiar with cardboard boxes and what they’re made from then we’ve put together some brief info to get you up to speed.

Firstly, what does corrugate cardboard mean? This is the structure of the board and the combined inner layers of liner and fluting which gives boxes their rigidity and strength. All boxes we sell at Rajapack are made from corrugate cardboard.

The layers of liner in a box are usually made from test paper which is a lower grade of Kraft and Kraft paper which is made from virgin fibres and is a higher grade. These liners provide strength and support to the fluting which runs between them and can offer some resistance from water and the elements. The material used here means you can write or print on the box for easy identification.

Finally, what is fluting? Fluting is the word used to describe the wavey cardboard that is between the two liners.  It’s wavey shape gives strength to the liners that surround it and the direction and distance between the flutes can vary depending on the strength of the cardboard box. More waves means a box has more strength.

Can corrugated cardboard be recycled?

Corrugate board is one of the most popular types of cardboard we use, found in corrugated cardboard boxes and packaging where it offers excellent strength and resistance to knocks and bumps.  The inner layer of corrugate, sandwiched between two layers of Kraft paper, make it strong and resilient.

The big question we get asked is “Can you recycle corrugated cardboard?” Absolutely! The great thing about corrugated cardboard is that it can be completely recycled and used to make other cardboard boxes and cardboard products.  Recycling your used cardboard boxes saves the trees, energy and materials used in the manufacture of new boxes.

At Rajapack we have a range of eco-friendly packaging, including our boxes which are made from 75% recycled fibres on average, and the ‘recycling loop’ for corrugate is so efficient that used boxes can be recycled, remade and reused in just two weeks!

Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/qph7tJfcDys

So, our Sales team is frequently asked, where to take cardboard boxes to recycle them? Many councils now offer recycling boxes for homes (usually coloured green or blue) where you can place items such as paper, aluminium and cardboard including corrugated cardboard for regular collection.  There are also local recycling sites across the country which accept corrugated cardboard for free.

You can check your recycling collections and find local recycling sites in the ‘Recycling Collections’ section of the government website, an easy to use page where you only need to enter your postcode. Other sites such as the Recycling Locator on recyclenow also make it easy to find information on where you can recycle locally.

Is cardboard biodegradable?

If a material is biodegradable then it naturally breaks down and decomposes in the environment in a way that doesn’t harm it. Food waste, for example is highly biodegradable usually breaking down naturally and safely in a short amount of time.

Cardboard is a biodegradable material – corrugated cardboard will break down and decompose naturally, though it can take a long time depending on the environment that it’s in.

It breaks down quicker if it’s wet and broken up into small pieces, and so is great for home composting if you have a compost bin.  If you are disposing of it at home, then make sure to cut it into small squares and wet it through thoroughly. There’s lots of useful information online about how to prepare it for composting.

How to break down cardboard boxes

Once you’ve finished with a cardboard box, it’s quick and easy to break it down so that it can be properly stored, ready for recycling or prepared for compost.

The first thing to do is to remove all plastic or vinyl packaging tape from the box.  This will have been used to seal it shut, and usually runs along the top and bottom flaps to keep it secure. This should easily pull off and can be disposed along with your normal rubbish.

If paper tape has been used to seal the box then you can leave this on as it can be recycled along with the cardboard box. If you’re composting then it will biodegrade along with the cardboard, so it’s safe to leave on. It’s what makes paper tape more eco-friendly than vinyl or plastic tape.

Once the non-recyclable tape has been removed, then you can easily flatten the box out. Ensure the top and bottom flaps are straight (not at right angles to the box) and push the opposite corners together.  The box should close up and you should then have a flat box which is much easier to store or transport.  If you are recycling it, be sure to keep it in a dry place ready for collection as it can be very difficult to recycle and handle when wet.

If you’d like more information about the range of cardboard boxes that we offer, any help or advice on purchasing packaging or the best way to dispose of it, then simply get in touch with our team of packaging experts who are on hand to help.

Simply visit www.rajapack.co.uk or contact our team on 0800 542 44 28, or sales@rajapack.co.uk.

Your guide to choosing the right Strapping

Strapping is an excellent solution for securing shipments during transport or for medium or long-term storage. There are 3 main uses of strapping; to fix to a pallet, to join one parcel to another, and to offer more strength.  It can be used to secure almost anything, from fragile products to bulky loads.

But with so many different types of strapping available, how can you make sure you’re using the right type?  This post will explain exactly how, offering advice and tips on selecting the right strapping for you.

What is strapping?

After a cardboard box has been sealed with tape, even if it is a sturdy cardboard box, strapping can be applied to secure it fully.  It wraps all the way around the parcel, and the join is bonded or welded together to provide a tight, strong seal that can’t easily be broken.

It can easily be applied no matter the package size, on everything from standard size cartons to large export boxes and pallets.  It’s particularly useful when fixing a couple of cartons together – it’s then considered as one parcel so reduces shipping costs.  It’s also ideal for bulky and heavy items, where something stronger than normal packaging tape is needed for a secure fit.

Strapping machines and tools

Strapping can be applied manually using strapping tools or with the use of a strapping machine for a fast and efficient process.  Top tip! If you use a strapping machine no additional tools or seals are required to fasten the strapping, the machine will automatically friction weld the strapping to the seal.

For manual strapping, equipment is required to create tension in the strapping and seal it securely.  For businesses shipping varied products ranging in shape and size, a tensioning tool combined with sealer tool and seal will complete the packing process, and the handy feature of using it vertically means you can reposition yourself for awkward loads.  Combination strapping tools are available which simplify the process combine both a tensioner and sealer into a single tool, to only be used horizontally it makes packing straightforward for securing same-size and shape products, seals are also required.

Hand strapping machines are ideal for a variety of packages; they’re highly versatile for different size and product variations, mobile and can be used vertically and horizontally.

For packaging lines that need to strap large volumes of packages then a strapping machine is highly recommended.  Semi-automatic strapping machines and automatic strapping machines are available, with the high performance automatic machine able to produce up to 65 straps per minute.  They greatly speed up the strapping process by automatically tensioning and sealing the strapping, reducing the time it takes to seal boxes.

How to choose the right strapping for your product

There are several types of strapping available and to get the best results you need to ensure you choose the correct type that offers the benefits needed for your packaging operation.

Here are just a few questions to ask yourself before starting to buy strapping are listed below – these should give you a good idea of the strength and properties of strapping that you’ll need to ensure they support your shipments:

  • What is the application and how do you intend using it?
  • What is the weight, and is it a static or dynamic load?
  • Will the strapped shipments have to withstand any particular weather conditions?
  • Will the strapping be done manually with tools or will it be done automatically with a machine?
  • How far is it going and will long will it be strapped for?

The different kinds of strapping available

We’ve summarised the different types of strapping below, so you can learn the properties and advantages of the different materials, listed in increasing order of resistance.  This should help you make the right decision when buying strapping – and if you’re still not sure, then please do give our team a call on 0800 542 44 28 and we’ll be happy to help.

Polypropylene Strapping

PP or polypropylene strapping is very light and versatile, making it ideal for sealing, reinforcing and securing lighter loads.  With elastic properties, it does not deform or corrode and resists bumps and scrapes making it ideal for use on pallets that will be stored for long periods of time or shipped long distances.

PP or polypropylene strapping

It offers a resistance of up to 250kg and its light, plastic properties make it easy to work with. It can be sealed with self-locking plastic buckles and security seals. Top tip! If you are using a manual, automatic or semi-automatic strapping machine, only polypropylene machine strapping can be used.

Extruded Polyester Strapping

PET or Extruded Polyester Strapping is the strongest type of plastic strapping available, making it ideal for fixing heavier loads and pallets.  Because it’s made from polyester it can be secured very tightly, with a small flex in the material that can be tightened when sealing.

Extruded Polyester Strapping

It has strong resistance to moisture and UV rays which make it ideal for long-term storage where high strength is required for long periods of time.  It offers a resistance of up to 340kg and can be used to replace steel strapping in many situations.   Made from a minimum of 80% recycled materials, it’s more eco-friendly than other strapping materials, and can be sealed using tensioners and sealers.

Extruded polyester strapping kit and dispensers

Steel Strapping

Among the strongest strapping available, steel strapping is tough and perfect for heavy, rigid loads with sharp or rough edges like iron or concrete that won’t compress.  The properties of steel strapping mean that it won’t flex like other materials can do – this is why it’s ideal for solid, bulky loads.  Top tip! Recommended that the person packing wear industrial gloves for protection.

Steel strapping

This super-resistant strapping is ideal for very heavy loads of up to 740kg can be sealed securely with or without seals. This industrial strapping can only be used with steel strapping tensioners, sealers and combination tools.

Corded Polyester Strapping

The most resistant of strapping materials, corded polyester strapping is ideal for fixing and sealing delicate or fragile products.  Its light, textile material means it’s easy to work with, it won’t rust, rot or mark surfaces, and is best used manually with tensioners and sealers.

 

Corded polyester strapping

It offers extreme resistance for loads of up to 950kg and is highly resistant to tearing making it ideal for heavy loads.  Also, by dividing it over the length, a knot can be made in the strapping to further increase the security of an item after it’s been sealed.

Corded polyester strapping kit and systerms

If you’d like more information about the strapping we have to offer, manual tools, machines, systems or advice on which strapping is right for your operation, simply get in touch with our team of packaging experts who are on hand to help.

Simply visit www.rajapack.co.uk