Is a traditional greeting card the gift that keeps on giving?

Traditional vs electronic greetings card

A traditional greeting card is a great way to let someone know you’re thinking of them. Yet in the digital age of iMessage, WhatsApp and email – where we can do it all online with the mere touch of a button – is there still a place for putting pen to paper?

After all, many of these apps are now signified by the envelope icon itself, but how do they hold up against the real-life, physical card, envelope and mailing bag?

What’s the case for the traditional greeting card?

For some people, nothing can compare to a handpicked, handwritten greetings card. There’s something about the putting of pen to paper and the tangibility of handwritten words that is an inherently personal act. It’s considered, as opposed to a copy and paste job – and it takes time to do.

Not only that, but for many there’s something sentimental about its journey: from one person, in one place, to another somewhere else – often embodying so much more than a message, but a memory of a time, place, person or emotion.

Finally, it holds a physical permanence; a greeting card can become an ornament in your home, a heartfelt note that never leaves you, or put in your memory box to be remembered later in life.Rajapack envelope

How do we communicate in the digital age?

In today’s fast-paced and frenetic world, we are finding new ways to speed up in all aspects of life.

Thanks to almost every aspect of our lives moving online, we can now see our calendar appointments, book our gym classes, keep track of our friends’ birthdays and let multiple people know we are thinking of them at any one time.

This means that there is no longer the same need to pick out that personal card, write it by hand and take it to your friend, or, post it through the letter box.

And digital messages are getting more sophisticated. We’ve said goodbye to the grey text box and can now send words or voice notes accompanied with emojis, photos, videos, gifs, and even the latest movement in communications – memes.

It’s cheaper and instantaneous – and is beneficial where speed, reach, cost and flexibility are concerned. We can whizz over a text, tame our conscience and tick ‘contacting so-and-so’ off our long list of to-dos. But does it do enough?

Where does it leave our traditional well-wishes?

We wanted to know where traditional greeting cards stand today, especially with companies such as Moonpig seizing the benefits of each and bridging the gap between both.

We know that people still give them to celebrate significant events and special occasions, but is this due to societal pressures, or could it be something more? And is it only a matter of time before, much like the carrier pigeon or even the telephone box, the traditional greeting card is signed, sealed and decidedly done?

We surveyed the UK about their attitudes to greeting cards today, as well as speaking to applied linguist and author at the Open University, Philip Seargeant, about whether he thinks they will stand the test of time. Find out the full story on the future of the greeting card here: Traditional vs electronic greetings: What does the future hold?

 

 

Storage solutions

The key to good warehousing is good storage solutions and organisation: and that means having the right storage bins and warehouse equipment to keep everything in the right place and making sure everyone can find what they are looking for.Warehouse storage solutions

There is a vast array of storage solutions available, from simple cardboard storage bins to plastic storage boxes that stack in neat piles. They can be shelved, wall or rack mounted, stacked, and smaller ones can often be used inside larger ones.

So what exactly is a storage container, how big are they, what are they made of and how can you use them?

What is a storage container?

A storage container is any sort of container used to keep things in and they are usually found in warehouses or offices. They can also be called storage bins and can be pretty much any shape, size, colour or material – although cardboard and plastic are favoured as they are strong and economical to mass produce – they can be used to store pretty much anything.

Storage bins come in all shapes, sizes and materials

There are storage containers that fit on shelves, on wall mounted panels or stack up on themselves; there are louvred storage bins to heavy-duty lidded crates. Whatever your storage needs, there is a storage solution for it.

There are ranges of lidded bins, both in cardboard and plastic that can handle all manner of storage and warehousing needs. From storing and protecting documents, to filing tools, nuts and bolts and a vast array of other products – you just need to remember what you have put into which bin!

How to label storage bins

Labelling storage bins is crucial for knowing just what is in each bin or container, making it clear for anyone to find what they are looking for. How to label them comes down to what you are storing in them, but a few rules of thumb apply.

If you have lots of wall mounted containers or a stack of storage bins with lids, it can help to label them either alphabetically or chronologically and keep an inventory of what, when and where items were stored.

While it is possible to write on cardboard and some plastic containers, sticky labels are ideal as they can be clearly printed on and, should the contents of that storage bin change, a new label can be stuck over the old (or the old removed and replaced with a new one).

There are also ranges of storage bins that come with plastic holders for labels, as well as ranges that feature a slot for a label, making labelling straightforward and clear.

Storage bins with plastic label holders or with a slot for a label

If your containers contain fragile or dangerous goods, then you must label them correctly. Read our guide on hazard labels that can be used to mark those up – showing everything from ‘Fragile’ to ‘This way up’ to some of the dangers that may be stored within, such as ‘Corrosive’ or “Flammable’ and so on.

What are storage containers made of?

Storage containers are made of a range of materials, but typically they are made either from cardboard or from plastic. Cardboard is typically used for lighter, and drier goods, that do not generally require special handling. Cardboard storage bins are economical, ecological and are pretty flexible as to what you can keep in it.

Cardboard storage bins are cheap, plentiful and great for lighter storage

Plastic storage containers are made from high strength polypropylene – with some even made from recycled high strength polypropylene – and come in a range of thicknesses depending on the load they are likely to carry. Plastic storage containers can hold more heavy duty products, and are more durable and resistant.

Some storage solutions are made from transparent light-grade high-strength polypropylene, convenient for people to identify the contents, especially when they are stacked. Also, clear storage bins are useful for seeing what is stored within, and are available in selected colours – which are not only pretty, but extremely useful for colour-coding the inventory contained therein.Stackable plastic storage bins

 

Other bins such as large heavy-duty stackable plastic storage bins are made from super-thick high grade high-strength polypropylene, able to take a much greater weight of contents and allowing for tall stacks. These can handle all manner of storage demands – including handling containerised liquids, some foods, chemicals and dirty or oily parts – and have an excellent longevity in use.

Some storage containers are made from polyboard: a wipe-clean, 3.5mm thick polypropylene honeycomb that is shock and chemical resistant, as well as very light and very storing. These are ideal for the storage of mechanical and electrical parts and even pharmaceuticals.

Poliboard stackable plastic storage containers

How big is a storage container?

How big a storage container is depends on a number of factors. With such a vast choice of different storage options available it is hard to pick standard sizes across the board, but within certain categories of container there are usually a range of options.

Louvred storage bins that can be stacked or wall-mounted on louvred panels, come in a range of sizes and capacities – and with capacities that depend on whether they are standalone, stacked or mounted. At Rajapack we offer these bins in 8 different sizes and come in 4 colour variants.

Stackable plastic containers are slightly more standardised. The Rajapack range offer these containers in three sizes, coming in volumes of 14, and 52 litres, from sizes 400x280x200mm, 500x350x250mm and 590x400x290mm. This allows containers of the same size to be stacked – and many have secure interlocking mouldings on the bottoms and the lids to make them more stable.

Perforated Euro plastic stacking containers – which look a lot like old-fashioned beer crates – are another plastic storage solution that come with handy handles, and which also stack and are great for anything that may need ventilation while being stored.

Perforated Euro plastic stacking containers

At Rajapack these come in nine sizes, but all based around a standard 600x400mm footprint. Some are 300x400mm and some 600x800mm, but again these are multiples of the standard size. They come in heights of 70mm, 118mm, 150mm, 235mm, 280mm, 320mm and 410mm.

Picking the right sizes for your particular need is key – not least if you want them to stack. This is why it is often a good idea to buy your whole storage solution from one supplier, so that you have commonality of sizes which can also work together.

How much does a storage container weigh?

How much a storage container weighs depends very much on its size and what it is made from. Attached lid plastic storage containers’ weight are between 3.1 and 3.6kg depending on size, while most of the others are lighter, weighing in at under a kilo each.

The weight of a storage container depends largely on what you put in it, but they all come with weight limits. That said, the high strength polypropylene containers are so strong that they can’t hold enough bulk to break them.

How wide is a storage container?

The widths of storage containers are variable, as we have seen, although families of containers often come in neat multiples of one another so that they at least tesselate when stacked or can be arranged in neat combinations on shelves or wall mounts.

Louvred containers as we have seen come in a variety of widths that allow them to be mixed and matched to fit on standard wall mounts or trolleys. In the Rajapack range, large cardboard storage bins come in widths of 440 and 835mm to fit on standardised shelving.

Stacking containers tend to have standard footprints or multiples thereof. Euro plastic stacking and nesting containers, for example, come in standard widths of 300 or 400mm and lengths of 400 or 600mm. They then offer different storage volumes based around a range of heights.

Louvre storage bins

Are plastic storage bins recyclable?

What can you do with old storage bins? Despite being tough and resilient, eventually you may need to get rid of storage bins and containers – so what can you do with them?

Cardboard storage solutions can of course simply be recycled at any recycling centre. Polypropylene (PP) containers – including polyboard – can be recycled at specialist PP recycling centres, where they are crushed, chipped and melted down. This recycled PP is then used to make more storage containers – and garden furniture, butter tubs, bottle tops and more.

Want to know more about storage containers?

For additional advice on storage solutions, our packaging experts are here to help you find the right packaging solution and arrange next day delivery. Simply call us on 0800 542 44 28 or visit www.rajapack.co.uk.

How to properly dispose of pallets

Pallets form a central part of the movement and storage of goods all over the world, but how do you properly dispose of pallets when they have done their job?

With many different types of pallets and accessories out there, many warehouses and delivery firms need to know how to dismantle a pallet, how to dispose of wooden pallets and how to recycle pallets – even plastic models and moulded wood ones.

So how do you do it?

How to dismantle a pallet

Pallets can be dismantled by pulling the individual wooden planks apart

Pallets can be dismantled by pulling the individual wooden planks apart (Image: Pinterest)

The first port of call to dismantle a pallet is to break the pallet down into their constituent wooden parts – leaving wood that can be reused in myriad ways, as we shall see.

How to take apart a pallet is both simple and specialised all at the same time. The first step is to use a crowbar to simply jimmy the nailed together planks apart, one by one, and then to knock out the support blocks with a hammer. Firstly, you need to prise off the top planks individually, then remove the bent nails from the support struts below. Then turn the pallet over and do the same for the other side.

This will leave you with a series of planks with spacer blocks on: these you simply pull apart again with the crowbar or you can knock them out with a hammer.

While the temptation is to use a crowbar or similar to prise the planks that make up the pallet apart, this can unfortunately damage the wood.

How to disassemble a pallet so that the wood can be largely reused – and there are several billion metres of wood used to make pallets worldwide every year; that’s a lot of wood – involves a special saw called a Sawzall tool. This is a handheld reciprocating saw that will reduce pallet deconstruction from 30 minutes or more to about 10 minutes.

Sawzall tool

A Sawzall reciprocating saw can make short work of dismantling a pallet (Image: Wikicommons)

The Sawzall can be used to cut through the nails that hold the spacing block and planks of the pallet together, cutting the pallet into its constituent parts quickly and easily. The nail remnants can then be knocked out with a hammer and a medium sized bradawl.

This leaves you with wood that is largely intact, bar a few small nail holes, which can then be reused or disposed of safely. Add a disclaimer – Just remember to be careful when using one of these saws, as the blade can be really sharp.

Where to dispose of wooden pallets

Can you take pallets to the dump? You can dispose of wooden pallets by taking them to the dump, However you need to check whether they are treated or untreated wood. Some pallets are heat treated to make sure they are free of biohazards and pests, while others dating from before 2010, may be to protect them still further. This was outlawed in the UK in 2010, so with very old pallets you may also need to check with your local authority as to whether they will accept these types of pallets with treated wood.

Untreated wooden pallets can be disposed of at the municipal dump, but it is better to look at how to recycle them – with many pallet companies actually prepared to take them away and, if only superficially damaged or in good nick, repair them and reuse them.

They can also be used for countless other things either whole or broken down into their constituent timber parts.

Moulded wooden pallets are a different matter. They are often made from recycled wood that has been finely-chipped then pressed into a mould.

Moulded wooden pallets can only be disassembled by crushing, but the pulp can be recycled

These kinds of pallets can be used many times over, but ultimately will get chipped and damaged. Once beyond their useful life these can be disposed of at your local waste recycling centre – they are untreated wood, so should pose no problem – or can be sent for recycling where they are crushed back into wood chip and pulp which eventually can find its way back into more pressed wooden pallets, paper, and other products.

Where to recycle pallets

One of the joys of wooden pallets is that they are eminently recyclable: pallets that are in good condition can be reused as pallets, or the wood reused to make things.

So where to recycle wood pallets? There are a number of pallet recycling companies that will come and take your pallets away and recondition them for reuse as pallets or as the raw materials to make new pallets and moulded pallets.

Plastic pallets, however, are a different kettle of fish altogether.

Plastic pallets and heavy duty plastic pallets

Plastic pallets and heavy duty plastic pallets are less straightforward to recycle

Are plastic pallets recyclable? Well, yes – but in a more specialised way. Unlike wooden pallets which have a life time of about 10 uses, plastic pallets can be in use for up to 10 years, so while more expensive and less straightforward to recycle, they are less frequently thrown anyway.

How are they recycled? Plastic pallets are made usually from copolymer polypropylene, or high-density polyethylene (HDPE) resin and can be recycled with similar plastics at specialist plastics recycling facilities.

Like all HDPE or co-polymer plastics they can be crushed, shredded and made into pellets, which are then used to make new plastic products – including new pallets. So, while wooden pallets may look more environmentally friendly, with their lovely, natural woodiness, plastic pallets can also be recycled or reused.

Conclusions

Pallets are really useful for shipping and storage, making anything effectively a standard size and so much easier to stack. However, eventually they do come to the end of their useful lives and need to be disposed of.

Street bench in Naples, Italy, made from wooden pallets

Street bench in Naples, Italy, made from wooden pallets (Image: Etan J. Tal, Wikipedia Commons)

Fortunately, both wooden and plastic pallets can be recycled. Wooden pallets perhaps have more ‘second life’ uses, being able to be turned into new pallets, other wooden goods, furniture, or even wood chips to make new moulded pallets.

Plastic pallets, on the other hand, need to be recycled through proper HDPE channels at a dedicated plastics recycling facility. However, they have a much longer life and, when recycled properly, are 100% reusable as plastic pellets that can be melted down and reformed into pretty much anything plastic.

And with literally billions of pallets in use worldwide at any one time, this has to be good news for the environment.

Want to know more about pallets?

For additional advice on pallets, read our Guide to Pallets or contact our team of Packaging Specialists on 0800 542 44 28 or visit www.rajapack.co.uk.

The WrapPak ® Protector, a paper packaging solution

The WrapPak ® Protector (PT) produces on-demand waved paper packaging pads using Kraft paper that is 100% recyclable, renewable and biodegradable. What makes this sustainable packaging solution innovative is the design design of the Kraft paper. The waved paper construction allows flexible movement and the combined layers provide strength, padded protection and versatility, so one packaging machine can be used for various applications.WrapPak Protector paper packaging products

The WrapPak ® Protector improves your warehouse’s packing efficiency, whilst packing stations are simplified by converting Kraft paper into a paper packaging pads. The warehouse packer can adapt the protection based on the shape and size of the product.  It means that only one packaging machine is used in the entire packing protection operation.

Box lining

Light protection – acting as a barrier between the product and box.

WrapPak Protector paper packaging for box lining

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wrapping products

Medium protection – cushioning multiple products and separating items during transportation.

WrapPak Protector paper packaging for wrapping products

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thermal insulation

Temperature protection – helping to maintain your products in an ambient or chilled condition.

WrapPak Protector paper packaging for thermal insulation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Block and bracing

Heavy duty protection – restricting movement and preventing products from shifting by filling the void.

WrapPak Protector paper packaging for block and bracing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Several programme modes are available to set the paper pad lengths, quantities and frequency by using the touchscreen display. A foot pedal can also be used for a manual packing operation; for on-demand production. Two separate packs of single-ply Kraft paper are automatically fed into the converter; the paper pad is converted from 2-ply Kraft sheets, the paper edges are punched and scrunched together forming the wave shape. The result is a paper pad that can be used alone to protect products, and is ideal for warehouses with a varied stock range requiring different protection qualities.

Paper packaging offers great protection for packages. Paper by nature, is a good shock absorber that reduces impacts, and does not transfer the pressure to other areas. It has good insulation properties by trapping air, also, paper is adaptable and malleable meaning each box can be individually packed according to the specific product. And lets not forget about the environmentally friendly aspects of paper packaging too.

For more information on paper packaging machines or the WrapPak ® Protector, contact the team on 0800 542 44 28 or sales@rajapack.co.uk.

 

4 easy ways to reduce your plastic consumption

Our plastic consumption is staggering. Much of the plastic we use every day is designed to be used once and thrown away. Plastic is hidden all around us in things we would never think of, like tea bags, clothes, stickers on fruit, and wet wipes. To address the problem, at Rajapack, the leading packaging supplier in Europe, we took a look at how long it takes certain plastics to break down, and the results were surprising.

But, all is not lost! There are simple changes you can make every day to reduce your plastic waste. If everybody took the time to think about the environmental impact of their choices we could really make a difference. Below you’ll find 5 easy changes you can make to help conquer the problem of plastic.

1.      Switch to paper straws

A plastic straw can take 200 years to biodegrade. Imagine if Queen Victoria had plastic straws at her coronation? A few would probably be on display in a museum now, the rest would still be hanging around in landfills and the ocean adding to the growing mass of plastic waste. However, if the Queen had used paper straws they probably wouldn’t have lasted the weekend – paper straws take a matter of days to biodegrade.

2.      Grab a reusable cup to-go

Polystyrene foam cups might be handy for grabbing a coffee, but they’re a nightmare for the environment. Made from plastic, polystyrene foam will never biodegrade. If dinosaurs used polystyrene foam cups as we do, we’d be finding them alongside dino fossils we dig up. A better alternative is to treat yourself to a reusable cup, these are pretty stylish – more so than a plain polystyrene cup – and very good value. Most coffee shops give you a discount on your drink if you’re using your own reusable cup.

3.      Read up on your recyclables

It’s so easy to feel like your making a difference by having a separate bin in your kitchen for recycling. In a lot of places, you can throw all the recycling in the same bag and not have to worry about it. But, not everything you assume is recyclable actually is and how often do you really take the time to carefully check before you throw that empty ready meal tray in there? By not taking the time to look for the “recyclable” symbol on your rubbish you could be doing more harm than good. Was that ready meal tray black? A lot of them are coloured black to make the food seem more appealing, but this colouring process actually makes the whole tray non-recyclable. You also should be washing out your tins and packets of any food scraps before throwing them away. And never throw out greasy pizza boxes! These are not recyclable due to the grease and can contaminate whole batches of recycling, meaning it gets diverted straight to landfill.

4.      Be picky about packaging

We love to order online. And with our passion for purchasing comes a whole heap of packaging. We want our new acquisitions to reach us in perfect condition and are quick to complain if they don’t. Which means packaging materials now make up the largest market for plastic and makes up almost half of global plastic waste. This just won’t do, so new innovations are hitting the market all the time. Eco Flo, which you can buy from Rajapack, is one of those solutions. And the company offer a whole host of eco-friendly packaging options to, hopefully, help reduce our reliance on plastics and make our world a cleaner place to live.

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How to save money on packaging: 4 tips from the packaging experts

Optimise your packing speed

Time is money, and nowhere is this truer than the world of logistics. It’s vital you optimise the number of orders prepared per hour and per shift if you want to keep things running as smoothly as possible. Rajapack, Europe’s number 1 packaging supplier, are here to give you the advice you need to speed up your warehouse operations; so, you can pack, protect, and seal your parcels more efficiently.

The 3 stages of packing

1.     Choose the right packaging materials

The packaging you use impacts the speed of your order preparation. The correct materials save time, which means more orders are packed per hour and, ultimately, greater profits are made for your business.

Swap your boxes for envelopes and mailing bags

Think carefully about how you can optimise your packing materials; even just changing from boxes to envelopes or mailing bags can save you time. Mailing bags are lighter which means the weight and volume of your shipments will reduce and overall transport costs will be lower.

Try Kraft paper mailing bags, a change from the popular plastic mailing bags

This ecological paper alternative will surprise you – not only does it have an adhesive strip to save you applying tape, as we know time-saving is important, but it is made from heavy-duty FSC 10gsm Kraft paper with a tensile strength of 9.5kN/m.

Kraft mailing bags

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The crash-lock box will revolutionise the work of your packing team

Crash-lock boxes basically assemble themselves. All you need to do is open up the box and the crash-lock base folds down to the bottom of the box and closes itself. Then all that is needed to seal the box is to close and tape the top. Even more time can be saved using crash-lock boxes with an adhesive strip included. There are 3 key benefits to switching from standard cardboard boxes to crash-lock boxes:

Time-saving: the box is assembled 2.5 times quicker on average than a standard box.

Energy saving: it may be 2.5 times quicker to assemble but at the same time it’s 2.5 times easier to assemble too. Your packing team will thank you for switching to crash-lock boxes! Just take a look at our crash-lock box video to see it in action if you haven’t done so yet.

Space saving: our customers have commented that previously they had to assemble standard boxes in batches, but now packers can easily construct boxes with the crash-lock bases on demand, saving warehouse space in the process.

Crashlock boxes

2.      Protect effectively, less is more

Protective packaging is something that you’ll need to think about to protect your products during transit. The solutions below work to reduce the time and resource required for this part of the packing process.

Perforated protective packaging

Save time during the protective packaging process by reducing the reliance on tools. Perforated protective packaging eliminates the need for a cutter. Watch our perforated bubble wrap vs standard bubble wrap video to see how much time you could save.

Perforated bubble wrap

The bubble bag with an adhesive strip

Not only does a bubble bag completely wrap around products, but the readily available adhesive strip also secures the product within the bag. No additional tape is required, and importantly no excessive bubble wrap is needed, watch our video, bubble bags with an adhesive strip to see the packing speed for yourself.

Bubble bag with adhesive strip

If you have awkwardly shaped items, is bespoke packaging an option?

If you have high volumes of similar orders and your product isn’t a standard box shape, you need to use packaging that fits your products well. Custom and bespoke packaging saves on the amount of protective packaging used as well as packing time.

Best practices of bespoke packaging

Having packaging that fits closely to the product is best, as it avoids movement and reduces damages. Bespoke packaging reduces the amount of protective packaging you need. Efficient packaging materials mean lighter loads and optimised packed pallets for reduced overall transportation costs. For a quick turnaround, custom made protective packaging means no time is wasted packing your order.

3.      Seal your parcels quickly and correctly

The closure stage is crucial to ensure your parcels are safe and secure in transit. The tips below ensure the security of your deliveries while making time savings.

Can you seal a parcel without using packaging tape?

To save time and money it is possible not to use packaging tape. Tape requires storage space, and you’ll have to monitor your supply closely. Mailing bags and postal boxes are available with an integrated adhesive strip. You’ll increase your packing speed, save space by not having to store stock, and reduce the amount of tape used within your business.

How to benefit from gummed paper tape

Gummed paper tape is one of the most effective and eco-friendly ways to secure your parcels. Amazon, one of the largest ecommerce retailers use paper tape on all shipments, and it is also custom printed with their branding. We recommend that you apply gummed paper tape using a paper tape dispenser, and to speed up operations even more, use an electronic water activated tape dispenser.

Gummed paper tape has a natural adhesive, it is tamper-evident so you can see if the tape has been removed from the carton and most importantly, eco-friendly and can be recycled with the box.

4.      Have a dedicated packaging area

Some might call it a workstation, a packing bench or a packing station. Whatever the term, it is the central location and area for you to pack and prepare parcels to then be shipped and sent.

This platform allows you to be organised, efficient and prepared and is more than a standard workbench or table. It provides a clear working space with dedicated areas to access your components and equipment, whether you’re wrapping, blocking, bracing or sealing – the structured frame will ensure you’re equipped with the tools you need for a seamless operation.

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Label it – The guide to hazard labels

How to label what is in a package is vital to protect the people handling the package, the people receiving the package and, often, to protect the package itself.

Understanding how to use packaging labels and hazard labels is a key part of correctly packaging a product for shipping, and for delivery and storage. There are a range of labelling solutions to help guide anyone coming into contact with the package; what it contains and how to handle it.

These labels fall into two main groups: packaging labels that show how to handle a package – and, indeed, how it has been handled – and hazard labels that reveal more specifically what potential threats the goods pose if mishandled.

How to label a package correctly involves using combinations of these labels to outline how to handle and care for packages and to know what is inside.

So what labels are available and what do they mean?

Chemical warning labels and what they mean

There are a wide variety of chemical warning labels available, covering a wide range of information that anyone handling a package needs to bear in mind.

As we have seen, these can range from simple instructions that help to protect the goods in transit from mishandling – such as ‘Fragile’ and ‘Do not bend’ – right through to very specialist chemical warnings, outlining what the hazards are should something befall that package.

Remember, in many instances, you may need a combination of these labels in each package.

So, what chemical warning labels are there and what do they mean?

Chemical hazard labels

The range of chemical hazard labels offers advice no specifically as to what is in the package, but what potential hazardous effects those goods could have if mishandled.

These include:

Non flammable gas chemical hazard label

  • Non  Flammable Gas – these simple green labels let shippers know that they are handling gas, but that it won’t explode or burn. That doesn’t mean, however, that it isn’t dangerous in another way – something that will be denoted by other labels. An example would be helium, often found in balloons.

Toxic gas chemical hazard label

  • Toxic gas – as the image suggests, this contains gases that can kill. These labels can be used in conjunction with, say, non-flammable label as the gas contained may not be flammable, but could be toxic, such as carbon monoxide.

Flammable gas chemical hazard label

  • Flammable gas – completing the range of gas labels, flammable gas warns of gases being used or transported that can burn or explode. Again, this may be non-toxic, but dangerous because of burning. An example would be Oxygen.

Flammable liquid chemical hazard label

  • Flammable liquid – along with flammable gas, liquids can also be a fire hazard, either when near heat or on contact with air. These labels similarly need to be used in conjunction with others to specify what hazards a particular product poses. An example of a flammable liquid is petrol.

Flammable solid chemical hazard label

  • Flammable solid – strikingly stripey, these labels denote solids that can burn or catch fire. Solids are often not seen as so hazardous as they don’t ‘spill’ per se, however, there are some that do burn – an example being firelighters. Wax is also a burn hazard too.

Highly flammable chemical hazard label

  • Highly flammable – this warning label warns of content that can burn readily, easily and fiercely. This distinguishes goods that are more likely to ignite and to create a blaze that is hotter and harder to tackle than goods that are ‘just’ flammable. An example would be lighter fluid and even some aerosol cans.

Corrosive chemical hazard label

  • Corrosive – these labels warn of substances that are gaseous, liquid or solid – that can steadily erode and destroy materials and flesh. Typically, corrosion actually involves the oxidation or rusting of metal, but in the realm of safety labels it refers to substances that can dissolve and/or ‘eat away’ any material and can be either acidic or alkaline. An example would be potassium hydroxide, more commonly found in fertilisers.

Miscellaneous chemical hazard label

  • Miscellaneous – For goods that are hazardous for other reasons or for packers who want to label their products themselves, there a range of miscellaneous labels that can be filled in manually. These labels also suit people who have a range of goods and want to then offer a reason why they are dangerous. Typically, these labels are there to warn of hazards which can then be specified.

Packaging hazard labels and what they mean

Chemical hazard labels warn of what can happen if the goods contained within a package are mishandled – avoiding mishandling in the first place is perhaps even more vital and so there are a range of labels to that end.

Used in conjunction with chemical hazard labels, these can paint a good picture of how to handle goods and why they need to be handled properly.

There, as we shall see, also labels that show how goods have been handled.

So what packing labels are available?

Fragile packaging labels

  • Fragile – these labels come in a variety of styles and are a basic indication that goods need to be handled carefully as the contents might break. They can be simple or more informative – including ‘This Way Up’ indication and an idea of what is inside. In conjunction with chemical labelling this can help handlers know precisely what to do with the package.

Handle with car packaging labels

  • Handle with care – Handling instructions are also a vital part of the labelling process, outlining not only what is in the package, which way up it should go but also specifically how to handle it.

These labels include ones that require general gentle handling, to those that suggest careful opening, to those that give more specific instructions such as ‘Do Not Crush’, ‘Do Not Bend’ and the like.

Antistatic packaging labels

  • Antistatic labels – One hazard that is of increasing importance in the modern era is that of static. Electronic goods – especially computers and phones, although ‘computers’ now appear in all manner of devices, even washing machines – are sensitive to electrostatic interference – it can fry their innards.

‘Electrostatic sensitive devices’ labels are used to make sure packages containing such goods are kept clear of electrostatic and magnetic interference.

Shockwatch indicator labels

  • Shock and tilt labels – The final class of packaging labels are those that help to understand how a package has been handled in transit: to make sure that goods have been treated properly and to pre-warn anyone handling the package that it may be damaged. Labels that tell a story.

Shockwatch labels highlight if a package has been dropped or bumped. They feature a small, contained glass vial within the label, which releases red dye – so a small window on the label turns red – if the package has been shocked.

Specialist Tiltwatch packaging labels

Tiltwatch labels are there to show whether a ‘This End Up’ or ‘This Way Up’ package has been kept the right way up, again featuring a small panel that turns red if a package has been tilted more than 90 degrees.

How to read a chemical label

The key to reading chemical labelling – in fact all the labelling – on a package lies in looking at what labels have been used. As we have seen, a combination of labels can be used to label a package to outline what is in it, what hazards that may contain and how best to handle that package to make sure that those hazards are kept from becoming an issue.

A combination of packaging and shipping labels used on one parcel could look like this:

Range of chemical hazard packaging labels

This labelling implies that the contents are fragile, probably in a glass or ceramic container and needs to be kept upright, because the contents, were it to be spilled is corrosive to skin and material. The package should also not be crushed or mishandled and a Tiltwatch label indicates to anyone handling it if it has been tipped or bumped. This way when it’s been opened it can be done so with care.

Conclusions

How to use packaging labels and hazard chemical labels is vital to both protection of the goods, as well as the protection of the people handling them and those receiving them.

Taken together, the labels can tell a story of what is both in the package, how to handle it and, with some of the more specialist labels, what has happened to it in transit.

Applying common sense to the use of these labels can help goods to be carefully handled and to arrive in good shape. And it makes economic sense too. Goods can get damaged in transit and storage, but labelling them properly so that they are handled and stored correctly can significantly mitigate this damage – and that has to make sound business sense.

Want to know more about shipping and packaging labels?

For additional advice on labelling your packages for shipping, packaging labels, read our shipping labels guide or contact our team of Packaging Specialists on 0800 542 44 28.

The low down on recycling envelopes and mailing bags

The old fashioned way of recycling largely consisted of re-using old envelopes to keep old receipts in, but that’s a generational thing. These days, recycling paper is more about trying to save trees and cut waste. And one of the main areas where that can be easily achieved is in recycling – properly, not just reusing – envelopes and mailing bags.

The rise of ecommerce has seen a similar boom in the use of mailing bags and envelopes to carry the smaller items being ordered in abundance from the web. So what can be done with this mountain of used packaging?

Read on as we find out just what you can do with those envelopes and mailing bags.

Can you recycle envelopes with windows?

Many businesses still send out bills and other information in business envelopes with plastic windows in them. The first question many would-be recyclers ask is can envelopes with plastic windows be recycled?

Traditionally, the answer here has been no: the paper part of the envelope is fine, but the plastic window is a bit trickier – even a small amount of plastic contaminant would ruin the entire batch of paper recycling.

Envelopes with windows

White business envelopes with a plastic window can they now be recycled?

For many eco-consumers, this has meant laboriously cutting the windows out of the envelopes before recycling – and still leaves a significant amount of plastic to go to landfill.

However, some modern post-consumer paper mills have systems in place that can now remove some plastic contaminants. So, while the windows still can’t be recycled, the envelopes can be without having to keep removing the plastic manually.

Can padded envelopes be recycled?

The rise of ecommerce has seen a proliferation of padded envelopes and mailing bags used to protect more delicate small items sent by post. The recycling question here, however, is more complex as there are many different types of padded envelopes, crafted from a range of materials.

Bubble padded envelopes

Bubble envelopes are typically mid-sized paper envelopes lined with bubble wrap. Are bubble padded envelopes recyclable? Typically, no, and for the same reasons that window envelopes aren’t: they are made of a mixture of materials, each of which may be recyclable, but together contaminate one another.

The best way to recycle these envelopes is to reuse them, by adding new sticky address labels.

The alternative is to try and manually remove the bubble wrap from within and recycle that and the paper envelope separately.

Bubble envelopes

Bubble envelopes are different again. These are pouches that can be sealed like an envelope, but which are made entirely from bubble packing materials. Can bubble envelopes be recycled? If it is purely made of bubble wrap, then yes these can be recycled as they are a single material. They must be recycled with plastics, but can be recycled – as can the bubble lining of a bubble padded envelope.

Padded envelopes

Jiffy bags

Padded envelopes with organic or paper material might be the answer

Not all padded envelopes are padded with plastic bubble wrap, some are organically padded. Are padded envelopes recyclable? Since they are usually packed with paper fibre in a paper envelope – so together are a single source of material – then these envelopes can be recycled easily in the paper recycling.

These ‘green’ envelopes offer the same degree of protection as their plastic, bubbly counter-parts, but can be both reused and recycled much more easily.

Can you recycle envelopes?

What about basic envelopes: are envelopes recyclable? Standard issue, plain envelopes can be recycled so long as they have no plastic on them or anything else that may act as a contaminant.

Stamps can also be recycled, so envelopes with stamps, paper labels and postmarks can all go into the paper recycling, regardless of colour.

If the envelope has been stuck down using Sellotape or any other kind of plastic tape, then this has to be fully removed, as it isn’t recyclable.

Interestingly, recycling envelopes means they are turned into more envelopes.

If you don’t want to send used plain envelopes to recycling, they are also quite easy to reuse. Among some of the less-obvious uses, Readers’ Digest suggests that they can be used to “funnel bulk spices into smaller jars” if you tear off a corner; use them as “files for things”; “help keep receipts together when shredding”; and, our personal favourite, “use them as envelopes”.

So, yes, can envelopes be recycled? Very much so.

Can you recycle envelopes with glue?

While there is a vast array of envelope types with differing recycling demands, one thing most of them do have in common is that they come with glue-down flaps. Can these be recycled?

In general, yes. Most glue is made from biodegradable organics and so it can be decomposed. However, some recycle plants won’t take it as it will contaminate their paper recycling if they are making pulp to re-use as paper.

Again, as with small amounts of plastic contaminants, many modern recycling plants can cope with small levels of contaminants so that glue isn’t an issue.

Plastic tape, however, is as this is generally not recyclable and can cause, along with plastic windows, too much contamination.

If you are planning to shred paper and envelopes and use them for compost, then the glue isn’t an issue.

Are plastic mailing bags recyclable?

While many people are using the wide variety of paper-based envelopes and mailing bags out there, sometimes only plastic will do – and there is a similarly large array of plastic mailing bags on offer. Can you recycle plastic mailing bags?

Again, it all comes down to whether it is a single material or not. Most polyethylene is recyclable, however, if it comes with paper labels then it isn’t – unless the two are separated and put in their respective recycling channels.

Many retailers who use poly mailing bags print onto the plastic, so that the bag can be recycled.

Kraft mailing bags

Kraft paper mailing bags are made from tough paper from sustainable forests

Another alternative are Kraft paper mailing bags, an environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional polythene mailing bags, made from FSC Kraft paper from sustainable forests. These are not only recyclable, but are also sourced from green raw materials: an environmental win-win.

Conclusion

As ecommerce continues apace, the quantity of envelopes and mailing bags is only going to grow. With many people increasingly aware of the environmental impact of what they do, making sure that simple things such as packaging are recyclable is a must.

The rule of thumb with any packaging, however, is that it can be made up of recyclable materials, but if mixed together renders the whole un-recyclable. Looking to have organically packed padding in paper envelopes or not sticking paper labels of plastic mailing bags is more a case of changing user habits that changing product choice.

Typically, most envelopes and mailing bags are, in essence, recyclable. They are also eminently reusable, so while it may seem daunting to have to separate windows from envelopes, bubble packing from paper and paper labels from plastic mailing bags, you may well be able to find other uses for these things.

Contact our Packaging Specialists for advice on 0800 542 44 29 or email sales@rajapack.co.uk. Or read our environmental FAQs for for more information.

Living in the future: How will new materials shape our world?

The UK sends more household waste to landfill each year than any other country in the EU – 18.8 million tonnes, in fact.[i] And although we’re all aware of the need to recycle, as a country, our recycling rate has stagnated over the last few years[ii].

Sustainable living - Living in the future

The amount of waste being produced by the UK has come under the spotlight recently as we begin to realise the adverse effect the things we use every day are having on the environment. The focus has mainly been on the damage plastic products can do, and how companies large and small are taking steps to replace it with options that don’t cause so much harm to the environment – the recent plastic straw ban is a good example.

There’s no denying that, as a society, we are changing the way we think about the environment surrounding us. The throw-away nature of the past is being replaced by a much more eco-friendly, sustainable way of thinking, as we come to terms with the increasing need to protect our planet.

Of course, thinking sustainably isn’t – and shouldn’t be – limited to smaller everyday items (coffee cups, plastic bags, straws); we are also beginning to think about how we can use sustainable methods to shape our buildings and interiors.

Sustainable living - Eco-friendly building materials

The expert opinion

To find out more about how the way we live and interact with our surroundings is changing, we spoke to two experts. Katie Treggiden is a craft and design writer with nearly 20 years’ experience and has shared with us her predictions for how the buildings we live and work in will change. Katie believes we will see new, sustainable building materials becoming the norm, and a focus towards more inclusive building design, known as “universal design”.

To find out about the future of interiors, we spoke to Tiffany Grant-Riley who works as a freelance interior stylist, writer and blogger. She also believes there will be a move towards sustainability, and that new materials will be chosen for their low environmental impact. Tiffany predicts there could also be more focus on re-purposing existing materials, telling us that, “Cheaper materials known for their strength, like cardboard, are already being used for furniture, dubbed as quick and easy to assemble alternatives.” Perhaps, then, the forts we built as children out of cardboard boxes are closer to a future reality than we thought possible… albeit a much more grown up one.

Take a look at all our experts’ predictions in full here: Living in the Future: How will new materials shape our world?

[i] http://enworks.com/landfill-2018

[ii] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jul/23/uks-plastic-waste-may-be-dumped-overseas-instead-of-recycled

A guide to pallets

The unsung hero of international trade – there are more pallets in use across Europe than there are people – a lot more. In fact, at the last count (in 2015, it takes time) there were 3 billion pallets being used across the EU, four for each person living in the region.

What is a pallet

With such ubiquity, this essential warehouse equipment forms the backbone of bulk transportation and storage pretty much everywhere, but there is way more to them than meets the eye.

Mostly they are wooden, though some are plastic and they come in a range of sizes and styles: picking the right one for your needs is something that needs a bit of thought.

What is a pallet?

So, first and foremost, what is a pallet, in technical terms, a “flat transport structure, which supports goods in a stable fashion while being lifted by a forklift, a pallet jack, a front loader, a jacking device or an erect crane”.[i]

Sometimes, pallets are mistaken for skids – wooden runners put under bulky items to help move them, invented by the ancient Egyptians to build the pyramids – but they are very different as we shall see.

Who invented the pallet?

Who invented the pallet

George Raymond, inventor of the pallet (Image: Raymond Corp.)

While pallets may seem to be one of nature’s immutable certainties, probably dating back to the dawn of creation, the invention of the pallet is widely credited to one George Raymond – and his chum Bill House. Well, they filed a patent in the 1930s for a sort of sled-cum-pallet – more akin to wooden ‘skis’ that Raymond added cross slats to and made stackable.

Raymond’s patented pallet also featured a lower ‘deck’ that makes it resemble what we refer to today as pallets. This made them stackable and sturdier for transport on forklift trucks, themselves introduced in 1925 in the US.

What was notable about the Raymond-House ‘proto-pallet’ was that it was designed to be made out of cheap timber – with the view to cost-effectively replace the cornucopia of packaging solutions then in use: wooden crates, barrels, kegs and cardboard boxes.

This has made the pallet cheap enough to be so widespread. It has also meant that they can be reused repeatedly and eventually recycled – often ending up as fuel, paper pulp, or animal bedding.

How are pallets made?

Pallets are made, typically, of wood, however there are plastic ones as well, which we’ll come onto later. Of the wooden ones, many are made from actual timber, cut to size and often glued together with strong polyurethane adhesive or nails or staples.

However, some wooden pallets are moulded in high pressure presses from wood powder. These have the advantage that they are a single piece with no additional materials added for fixings. This makes them much easier to recycle at the end of their life, but they tend not to be as strong and are for smaller loads.

Standard moulded wood pallets

What are plastic pallets made from?

Plastic pallets are also moulded, and usually made from copolymer polypropylene, or high-density polyethylene (HDPE) resin and injection moulded; though more costly, but can be advantageous if you need to store things in a dry and bacteria-free environment. They are also great for chemical resistance, and suitable for use with most acids, chemicals and solvents.

Plastic pallets are tough, clean and chemically resistant

How big is a pallet?

Pallets come in all shapes and sizes – and made of different materials, depending on where they are being used and what they are being used for. But there are a set of standard sizes, designed to help uniformity of use in storage, shipping and of course lifting on standard sized forklifts.

So, what is the size of a standard pallet? Typically, in old money, 48×40, 42×42 and 48×48 inches. Square pallets are more stable when being lifted, but sometimes, depending on what is being stored or moved, they aren’t as suitable, so rectangular 48×40 pallets are used.

How big is a pallet

Side view, standard dimensions of a European standard pallet (Image: EPAL)

Here in the UK – and EU – of course pallets are metrically dimensioned, and come in standard sizes, measured in millimetres. Typically, these are 1200×800, 1200×1000 and for moulded wooden pallets can take between 350kg and 1250kg depending on their spec.

Dimensions of a pallet

Top view, standard dimensions of a European standard pallet (Image: EPAL)

Plastic pallets come in 600×800, 1200×800 and 1200×1000 and can take between 400 and 800kg dynamic load. Heavy duty plastic pallets are also available in 1200×800 and can take loads of over 800kg.

How heavy is a wooden pallet?

The weight of the pallet itself is also important to know – not least as it will have to be included in the export manifest details of the weight of what is being shipped. So how heavy is a wooden pallet?

A typical wooden stringer pallet sized 1200×1000 weighs around 15 to 22kgs. A pressed wooden pallet sized 1200×800 rated for 350kg load weighs in at 8.5kg; a 1200×1000 rated to 1250kg dynamic load comes in at 19kg. A heavy-duty plastic pallet that is 1200×800 will weigh about 8.6kg. [ii]

What type of wood are pallets made from?

So, let’s take a more detailed look at the type of wood are pallets made from, how the different kinds are made and how, if you’ll pardon the pun, they stack up.

What wood is used for pallets?

What would is used for pallets

The type of wood used for pallets vary, stringer pallets – those made from ‘strings’ of wood, as opposed to moulded wooden pallets – are typically made from a range of woods, depending on costs. Typically, they are a mixture of hard and soft woods, often oak for the load bearing parts as it is strong and southern yellow pine for the non-load bearing parts.

Often pallets are also made from plywood constructed of alternate layers of hard and soft woods. Both kinds of pallets also then need heat treating.

What is a heat-treated pallet?

A heat-treated pallet is one where the wood has been kiln dried and this is necessary to strengthen the wood by removing excess moisture, as well as to essentially sterilise it, killing off spores and bacteria that may live in the wood. This is vital for pallets being used for any form of export.

In fact, the heat-treatment of pallets is essential and is regulated under the International Phytosanitary Standard for Wood Packaging – ISPM15, currently adopted by 14 countries and the entire European Union.

Interestingly, pressed wooden and plastic pallets – both of which are heated during their pressing – are exempt. As is sawdust and barrels.

To meet the standard of ISPM15, pallets and pallet wood needs to be heated to a minimum temperature of 56 °C for a minimum duration of 30 continuous minutes throughout the entire profile of the wood (including at its core).

Various energy sources or processes may be suitable to achieve these parameters. For example, kiln-drying, heat-enabled chemical pressure impregnation, microwave or other treatments may all be considered heat treatments provided that they meet the heat treatment parameters specified in this standard.

How long do heat treated pallets last?

A heat-treated pallet is designed to have a long life, not just free from pests and decay, but also hardened by the heat treating process. As to how long a pallet lasts all depends on how you use it. Treated kindly they can last for up to 10 years in their primary function. Recycled into furniture and other domestic products can see this doubled or even tripled.

Are pallets also chemically treated?

As well as being heat treated, pallets are often also chemically treated to protect them from insects, mould and decay. Typically, wooden pallets are treated with methyl bromide, a toxic pesticide to protect them still further.

What accessories do you need with pallets?

Pallets on their own aren’t enough to cover all your shipping needs. You will also need all manner of pallet accessories to make the pallet system work. Cardboard pallet caps and trays are essential for protecting your products when on the pallet, as are cardboard divider sheets, and general purpose edge protectors.

It also a good idea to ‘top’ your pallet stack with waterproof sheeting in case it is outside at any point in its transport, as are tear-off pallet covers on a roll, for that extra protection.

To move stacks of pallets around you will also need dollies that essentially puts the pallet on wheels or even a self-propelled stacker. Either way, there is plenty of equipment available to make palletising the go to option for storage and shipping.

Conclusion

There are many pallets and accessories available, be they wooden stringer pallets as invented back in the 1930s by George Raymond, who built on the ancient Egyptian idea of the skid, or pressed wooden pallets or even plastic pallets that can handle tough environments, chemicals and more.

With literally billions of pallets in circulation around the world, it is easy to take them for granted and never truly see how useful they are, but hopefully we’ve given you some insight into how there is much more to the humble pallet than you thought – and that there are myriad ways they can be used.

[i] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pallet

[ii] https://associated-pallets.co.uk/product-category/used-wooden-pallets/uk-standard-pallets-1200x1000mm/