Category Archives: Environment

Your recycling questions

We regularly receive calls from our customers interested to learn about eco-friendly alternatives; how they can reduce their environmental footprint by developing their purchasing packaging line to be more sustainable. We are finding more and more businesses are taking control by either choosing a complete eco-responsible packaging range, or by making small improvements where possible.

The most asked questions are “What packaging is recyclable?”, or more specifically “Is bubble wrap recyclable?”. Our customers are interested in environmentally friendly packaging and we are fully committed to help support this change.

If you’re looking to be an eco-responsible business, make the change this year and join our customers.

Global Recycling Day 18th March 2020 >>

Read our most asked recycling questions on packaging

Are gift bags recyclable?

Can you recycle packing paper?

Can all paper bags be recycled?

Can you recycle plastic bags?

Since 2015, RAJA has donated more than 1.6 million euros to help support sustainable initiatives. Money has been raised from customers purchasing selected eco-responsible Partnership Products. From every pack purchased, £1 is donated to our Women and Environment Action Programme.

Women and Environment Action Programme

What are Partnership Products?

Partnership Products are carefully selected eco-responsible packaging products for the Women and Environment Action Programme, every time our customers purchase a pack of these selected products, RAJA donates £1 to charity.

What is the Women and Environment Action Programme?

This charity is one of the many RAJA Foundation projects, the “Women and Environment” Action Programme aims to establish the emancipation of women around the world whilst developing sustainable initiatives.


Women and Environment Action Programme – RAJA donates £1 on your behalf

Read more>>


 

What is eco-responsible packaging?

Being environmentally conscious is not only something we need to do for all humanity, but is also becoming an important business differentiator when customers are choosing who to buy from. And packaging is where they first get a feel for your environmental credentials. So what sustainable and eco-responsible packaging options are there?

Recycled packaging at RAJA

In fact, pretty much all packaging materials and solutions have an eco-responsible alternative option. From packaging materials, storage solutions and even heavy duty storage boxes, all available made from recycled materials to packaging that can be recycled – often into new packaging – and packaging that can be used and composted or biodegraded.

Read on to learn what is available – you may be surprised.

What is eco-responsible packaging?

RAJA eco-friendly packagingEco-responsible packaging are eco-friendly packaging materials that have little or no environmental impact. Made from recycled, recyclable or sustainable materials in processes that too have little or no impact on the environment.

These packaging materials are made to be neutral in terms of what they do to the environment. Being made from recycling other materials or by being easily reused or by being readily composted or biodegrading once finished with.

Eco-responsible packaging is safe and sustainable for both its users and the environment and are ideal for helping brands and businesses meet their corporate social responsibility targets. As well as helping us all do our bit to protect our world.

Such packaging comes in many forms, from eco-responsible wrapping paper to eco-responsible fill to even eco-responsible bubble wrap made from recycled plastics. Offering the same high level of protection as ‘ordinary’ packaging materials, eco-responsible and sustainable packaging offer the advantages of high quality packaging to suit whatever your transport or storage needs are, but minimising the harm to the environment.

Recycled paper packaging at RAJA                     Eco-friendly packaging at RAJA                    Eco-friendly packaging at RAJA

What is sustainable packaging?

Sustainable packaging, on the other hand, is packaging that comes from a sustainable source such as paper packaging and wrapping.  This is packaging made from sources that replenished the trees used to make the paper in the first place.

These sustainable packaging materials may also be reused multiple times, adding to their eco-friendliness. As well as being cyclable – often being made into other eco-responsible packing materials, such as recycled and recyclable mailing bags.

Bringing together the ideas of both sustainability and biodegradability, there are packaging materials such as Eco Flo that offer the best of both worlds. Looking like polystyrene chips, this lightweight and highly versatile packaging option is made from 100% renewable sources, is odourless and offers anti-static properties up to five times better than polystyrene – making it ideal in packaging of delicate electronics.

Like all protective chips, Eco Flo stops items falling to the bottom of the box and offers excellent protection.

Is biodegradable packaging still strong?

Biodegradable packaging is still strong. One of the key worries with switching to eco-responsible and biodegradable packaging is whether it is as strong and effective as ‘non-green’ traditional alternatives. In almost all cases, eco-responsible and biodegradable packaging are just as strong as any others.

Depending on the packaging product and type in question, eco-responsible and sustainable packaging can essentially be made from the same materials as their virgin equivalents. With those made of recycled materials – especially plastics – simply being the same plastic melted down and/or reused. Sustainable packaging can also be made from exactly the same materials and in somewhat the same way as virgin packaging. If you take paper; the original supply (often trees) is replanted and over a year, shows no net loss of raw materials. Also before and during the manufacturing process, the creation of the product itself has considered the negative effects towards the environment, so that it is sustainably produced.

Eco-resposible packaging at RAJABiodegradable packaging is slightly different, however, in that it is often a new material made to biodegrade when placed into landfill, without giving off any harmful by-products or gases. Paper products are naturally biodegradable, being made from organic materials from trees. Biodegradable options to plastic are a different matter.

To biodegrade, these too have to be made not from polythene, but from organic materials such as cellulose – also derived from trees and plants – and can also include corn oil, orange peels, starch, and plants. Traditional plastic is made with chemical fillers that can be harmful to the environment when released once the plastic is melted down. With biodegradable plastic, you get a substance made from natural sources that does not contain these chemical fillers, and does not pose the same risk to the environment.

Corn-starch, which is the basis of most compostable plastics, is in fact very strong, forming long polymer chains. So while they may feel different to ‘normal’ plastic they are in fact just as strong.

Types of recyclable plastic packaging

Recyclable packaging at RAJA

Of course, not all plastic packaging has to be biodegradable, but it is environmentally conscious to use recyclable plastic packaging alternatives. There are many packaging items made from recycled and recyclable plastic.

While using packaging that is recyclable is great, you can also use plastic packaging that is made from cycled materials – often without the consumer noticing any difference.


How to recycle packaging materials

Find out how>>


Alternatives to bubble wrap

Of course, there are alternatives to bubble wrap – such as recycled bubble wrap which is one of the eco-friendly options. There are many benefits to the popular bubble wrap (not even mentioning economical),is ideal for adding extra protection from bumps and thumps in transit, as well as from moisture, dust and dirt. However there are a number of other environmentally responsible packaging solutions available.

One  alternative to bubble wrap is corrugated cardboard rolls, which can be used instead of sheets of bubble wrap. Like bubble, corrugated cardboard can securely protect items in transit or storage. Made from C-shaped shock absorbent corrugated recycled cardboard, the waves allow flexibility, creates padding and is lightweight. This packaging product is an ideal eco-friendly packaging option.

A great alternative to bubble wrap pouches or envelopes are Jiffy Green bags stuffed with cushioning paper fibres, or corrugated Flutelope mailers with absorbing waves, both are ideal for goods that you may usually put in a bubble wrap baggie.

Want to know more about our wide range of eco-responsible packaging materials?

For additional advice on the best eco-responsible packaging materials or to learn about RAJA packaging and the environment you can contact our Packaging Experts. Simply call us on 0800 542 44 28 or visit www.rajapack.co.uk.

 

Types of cardboard packing boxes

Cardboard packaging boxes and flat pack boxes are a staple of the warehousing, transport and export function of any business. But there is more to the humble cardboard box than you’d think. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, can handle a variety of weights and some even come with their own pallets attached.

So which box types suit your needs and how do you choose? Read on.

Types of cardboard packing boxes

Cardboard packaging boxes and flat pack boxes are a staple of the packaging industry. Mention ‘packaging’ to most people and they think boxes. However, they are more interesting – and useful and varied – than you might think. And getting the right box for your storage needs is crucial.

Getting the right kind of box for your business can help smooth processes, protect your products, expedite storage and, if you are using branded postal boxes to send out your goods, create the right impression about your company. So, choosing the right kind of box is more important than you think.

Cardboard packaging boxes come in a variety of shapes, sizes and can be made of a variety of materials and constructions methods depending on how they are going to be used. They also throw up the issue of what types of tape and other fixings are needed to seal them, as well as coming with a range of inserts to allow for packaging specific items, such as bottles.

There are even a range of accessories such as wheels and handles to make storing and moving goods packaged in boxes easier. So how do you choose?

Cardboard packaging boxes

Single walled (left), double walled (centre) and triple-walled (right) ‘standard’ storage boxes

First of all there are a wide variety of boxes to choose from. At RAJA we offer a  ‘standard’ box, which comes in a range of sizes as well as being singledouble or triple-walled depending on what you need to store and how, as we shall come to. Triple-walled boxes are also known as loading cases and are really tough.

White cardboard boxes

Single (left) and doubled-walled white boxes really stand out

There are also ranges of boxes with single, double and even triple walled boxes that come in white, that stand out and are excellent for getting your consignments noticed or for when you really need handling instructions to be obvious.

Flat cardboard boxes

Flat packaging boxes offer a more tailored fit for a wide range of items

For more tailored needs and to pack a more diverse range of products, such as picture frames, mirrors, gifts, computers and industrial equipment, cardboard boxes come in a variety of shapes and dimensions, including many ‘flat’ boxes.

Extra-large flat cardboard boxes

Flat boxes are great for postal deliveries of delicate and slim items

Many of these flat boxes are the kind of thing that many shoppers will be familiar with as what their goods arrive in when ordered online. One piece flat cardboard boxes  are designed for slim products and, with the item placed in the centre and the flaps wrapped around, theses boxes leave an extended edge that provides impact resistance and corner protection.

Double wall, flat telescopic cardboard boxes

Telescopic boxes offer another tailored way to pack special items for storage or post

For the storage or transportation of items of varying sizes, telescopic boxes offer an ideal solution. Made up in two parts, with a lid that slides over a base, these boxes are great for accommodating different sized products as the lid can be slid as far down as required, always providing great protection for what’s inside. They look good too and, for postal items, offer a more novel unboxing experience.

Triple wall, cardboard export boxes

Strong, triple-walled storage boxes are ideal when exporting

Do I need strong packing boxes?

While there are a variety of different sizes, shapes and finishes of cardboard packaging boxes, one of the main questions asked of flatpack boxes is how strong they are – or moreover, how strong do they need to be for a particular job.

Triple wall, cardboard export boxes

Strong boxes are used for transport and storage and must be stackable

The strength of a cardboard box needed is determined by what is going in it and what are you going to do with it. For anything over 100kg, double or triple-walled large packing boxes are needed – up to a maximum of 500kg for some triple wall boxes.

If the boxes are to be loaded and stacked, or palletised, then they need to be strong, with supportive lids and corners. Many boxes are also used for transport and even export. These will be subject to stacking, moving and bumping and so need to be of strong specification.

The triple wall loading cases are made from triple wall top quality rigid flute corrugated board with 200gsm Kraft paper finish. Outer B flute 140gsm, 3-6mm thick with a 140gsm test; inner C flute 140gsm, 4-8mm thick with a 140gsm test and inner A flute 140gsm 5-10mm thick with a 200gsm test lining.

Cardboard cap and sleeve loading cases without pallets

Cardboard cap and sleeve loading cases add even more protection and strength

For added strength, large boxes can also be purchased with cardboard caps and sleeves that allow for stacking and provide heavy duty protection. They are made of a stitched heavy duty corrugated sleeve, two end caps fitting top and bottom. These large cardboard boxes are easily collapsed for return or storage and can be easily stacked.

Capacitainer pallet boxes with Inka Presswood pallet

Some boxes come with their own pallet to help with protection when stacking

Some pallet sized cardboard boxes like the capacitainer pallet box come not only as flat packed boxes, but are also secured to their own Inka Presswood pallets with white plastic plugs, which fit in to pre-drilled holes on the base of the box and on the pallet. The boxes feature a drop down window making access to the contents quick and easy.

These boxes are made from double wall corrugated board (except CAPAC10 which is triple wall) and the Inka Presswood pallets are manufactured from processed recycled waste timber and are certified for export to: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, India, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Taiwan and the USA.

White cardboard gift boxes

Small packing boxes are often used for smaller, lighter gifts

For small packing boxes similar rules of thumb apply, but naturally they tend to be able to handle much less weight, instead being designed for gifts and much smaller, often more delicate items.

Choosing tape for packing boxes

Packaging tape and strapping

Strapping or tape – how to seal a box

When putting items in boxes for storage, transport or postage it is key that they stay in the box. This is where tape and strapping comes in.

For a large packing box, many companies opt for strapping tape to seal boxes. Polypropylene hand strapping has a breaking strain of between 120 and 260kg and is easy to apply and won’t corrode. It is also extremely tough.

Pakit portable polypropylene strapping kits

Strapping kits are available to make it easy

Kits that feature a box of strapping – that is easily carried around the warehouse – and the tools to make applying it easy are also available, making it easy to strap up large storage boxes and pallet boxes.

Packaging tape

Tape is great for smaller and medium sized boxes

For medium sized boxes and loads, packaging tape can be used to seal up boxes. It is really easy to apply – and easy to remove. It can also be branded with either the company logo, a message, or, if needed, a warning message.

Pre-printed FRAGILE self-adhesive paper tape

Tape can be used to seal boxes for storage and transport

So there you have it: cardboard boxes come in an almost infinite range of sizes and shapes and can handle loads up to 500kg – can be stacked, exported and can even come with their own pallets.

The other advantage they have is that they can be recycled and so are increasingly popular in our environmentally-conscious day and age. Happy packing!

 


Tip: How to dispose of your used cardboard boxes

>> Find out how


Want to know more about our wide range of cardboard packaging boxes?

For additional advice on cardboard packaging boxes in all their various shapes, sizes and forms, our Packaging Experts are here to help you find the right solutions and arrange next day delivery. Simply call us on 0800 542 44 28 or visit www.rajapack.co.uk.

Can all paper bags be recycled?

Paper bags are increasingly seen as an environmentally friendly means of packaging – they are made from trees, they can be readily recycled and they can even be composted. However, not all bags are equal. We take a look at which kinds of paper carrier bags can be recycled and which composted, as well as finding out how to do it.RAJA Paper bag

Can all paper bags be recycled?

Pretty much all paper carrier bags can be recycled because they are, well, made of paper. This can either be bio-degraded or can be pulped and turned into new paper carrier bags.

Increasingly, people are questioning “are plastic bags are recyclable?“. Many people are turning away from plastic bags in search for an environmentally-friendly alternative. But are paper bags environmentally friendly?

Yes, these bags are extremely environmentally friendly. Paper can be easily recycled, so long as it is free from things such as plastic coatings, ink and other contaminants. If it is unadulterated from its original form, then they can usually be recycled.

So how can brown paper bags be recycled?

Brown paper bags

Such bags can be recycled in many ways. ‘Recycling’ of paper covers many things. From being pulped and turned into new bags to shredding for use as filler in other packaging products. It can also involve being turned into cardboard, or it can even mean being composted or bio-degraded.

In this article we shall find out all you need to know about recycling paper carrier bags.

Are paper bags compostable?

Most paper sacks and bags are compostable. Composting is a very important part of the recycling paradigm. Unfortunately, not everything can easily be collected and returned to a processing plant to be pulped and made into new paper.

So are brown paper bags compostable? Basic, unadulterated brown paper can be composted and this offers an energy efficient way to extract environmental value from used bags. Using a mixture of both brown and green materials are important. Plain brown paper, cardboard and dead leaves in combination with grass clippings and kitchen waste, are perfect ingredients to fuel composting. This can then be spread on your garden or allotment.

Are greaseproof paper bags recyclable and can you compost paper bags that have a grease proof coating? In short, yes they are recyclable and, in fact, they can also be composted as well as recycled, so long as they are treated with organic waxes.

Those bags that are plastic lined or treated with other chemicals are not so easy to recycle or to compost. Plastic – particularly polythene – can be recycled. However when attached to paper to line or coat a bag, separating the paper and the plastic is a problem. While both can be recycled, they are recycled in very different ways so have to be treated separately.

How to recycle a paper bag

Plain brown paper carrier bags with folded handles

Bags like this  – that are made only from paper – can be recycled, reused or composted

Are paper bags sustainable? Since they are recyclable and/or compostable, these bags are highly sustainable, as they can be reused in numerous ways.

Are paper bags recyclable? Yes they are. Recycling bags made from paper depends on how you wish to use them. As we have seen, they can be composted or pulped, or they can be repurposed or reused, both as bags or for other projects.

To recycle paper containers into paper, the bags must be shredded, boiled and turned back into paper pulp. This can then be pressed to remove water and to bond it together and rolled out into new sheets of paper. This can then be used to make new bags and other paper goods – or used more thickly to make cardboard.

Recycle

To recycle bags that have been ‘waxed’ is slightly more complex. These types of paper are considered in the recycling business as mixed paper and are not usually recycled – and so they have to be composted.

Organic wax such as soya bean wax can be digested by the worms and microbes in a composting process. However some other waxed papers are also treated with petroleum-derived additives which can be poisonous to microbes and worms. Unless you look deeply into the exact nature of the waxing on a particular bit of paper it is hard to know for sure if it can be used.

That said, as part of mixed organic waste going to compost, most waxed paper doesn’t in reasonable quantities cause problems.

Plastic coated bags or packaging used for milk or juice cartons are also mixed materials, but these can be recycled.

Bags that feature handles made of a material other than that of the bag can also be problematic to recycle. Although, so long as they are bio-degradable handles made of card or string – attached with organic glue – these bags can be composted.

How to compost paper bags

How to compost paper bags with RAJA

Composting is becoming an increasingly popular way of dealing with many household goods – particularly food and other organic waste. And these bags, as we have seen, if they are the right kind of paper, can be readily composted.

So how do you compost these bags? On a domestic scale, you simply need a compost bin in your garden, you can buy or build a compost bin. Just fill the bottom with garden waste such as soil, leaves and grass cuttings, then start to add your compostable waste. Did you know that kitchen scraps are ideal! Then as the worms and microbes in the bin start to digest it you can start to add other material such as paper and card. Not too many as it take the creatures in the bin a while to digest, but digest they will.

This will leave you with a lovely rich soil additive that you can use to help fertilise your garden – to grow vegetables. And the scraps of which you can put back in the compost bin to help digest more paper.

How to reuse paper bags

Large capacity strong paper bags

Large industrial paper sacks can also be reused and up-cycled

The other way to recycle paper sacks is to reuse them. Grocery shopping bags can be used more than once, assuming they haven’t been torn or damaged or been spilt on. Other forms of paper sacks and bags used in industry settings can also be reused – not least as rubbish bags.

Ultimately, paper containers can also be used to collect organic waste waiting to be added to the compost bin or taken away by the local authorities to be recycled.

Paper sacks can also be used as packing material to protect delicate items or used to line all manner of pet trays and other things around the home.


Guide: How a paper carrier bag is made

Find out how>>


Want to know more about the wide range of paper sacks and bags?

For additional advice on environmentally friendly paper products that meet all your packaging and gifting needs. Our Packaging Experts are here to help you find the right solutions and arrange next day delivery. Simply call us on 0800 542 44 28 or visit www.rajapack.co.uk.

The low down on recycling envelopes and mailing bags

RAJA 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.

The importance of eco-friendly packaging for online UK shoppers

Your favourite retailer has a sale, this is an exciting mini-fist pump moment and you make the mental note to look online later, and that evening your order is placed. The next day your parcel arrives – the box is huge! You question yourself on what you ordered, can you even remember? Or are you wondering if the correct item has been sent. Confusion sets in as you eagerly open the cardboard box. You’re shocked at the amount of excessive packaging is in the box – there’s loads of scrunched Kraft paper.  You rummage around somewhere underneath and you find your purchase.

The importance of eco-friendly packaging for online UK shoppers

‘Sustainability’, ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘recycling’ are all buzz words you are likely to be familiar with. Contrary to popular belief, online shoppers deem delivery costs and ensuring packages arrive safely to be more important than considering any environmental issues.

As ecommerce sales increase so will the demand and resources needed to support this supply chain.

As online shopping increases, the savvy and environmentally conscious are concerned about the detrimental effects to the environment if this continues, and this is an issue that affects us all.

94% of British adults say they care about the environment

We unearthed some of the UK’s recycling habits, although cardboard is the most commonly used packaging material used by retailers, 21% of people do not recycle their cardboard packaging, or will only sometimes recycle it. It begs the question of whether the UK cares as much about the environment as they say they do.

whistl, the delivery management company, conducted a recent survey identifying factors that influence online purchases. Results found, delivery to be the most important factor when buying online.

Interestingly, 75% of UK shoppers were frustrated with excessive packaging, and wanted retailers to reduce the volume of packaging used, and for retailers to adopt eco-friendly alternatives. While receiving inappropriately packed parcels was the biggest annoyance amongst respondents; 58% said they will not act upon this or voice their concerns, and will only have considerations about eco-friendly packaging as an afterthought, or will not consider eco-packaging at all. [i]

The cost of eco-friendly packaging

Half of UK consumers would be unwilling to pay more for environmentally-friendly packaging. Those who only consider the packaging once the order has been delivered or never consider it, and would not be willing to pay any more. Surprisingly, frequent shoppers would be willing to pay more for an eco-friendly option compared to those who shop online infrequently.

The study shows that if there was a charge for eco-friendly packaging options, UK shoppers are on average willing to pay 82p extra. Though the amount shoppers might be willing to pay decreases with age, those aged 18-24 are willing to pay £1.19 extra compared to just 47p more for those over 65.

Melanie Darvall, Whistl’s Director of Marketing and Communications, commented:

“These results show that although some consumers do care about the environmental impact of their packaging the cost of delivery and secure product packaging are the most important factors influencing UK online shoppers.

“However, minimising the amount of packaging sent to a consumer and ensuring that it can be recycled kerbside could boost how satisfied your customer will be once their item has been delivered.”

What is eco-friendly packaging?

The phrase ‘eco-friendly’ can have a number of definitions and there are different interpretations of the term. When respondents were asked what they considered environmentally-friendly packaging to mean, 92% strongly associate it as an item that can be recycled.

The definition of environmentally-friendly packaging, or eco-friendly friendly packaging, has a broad meaning. Ultimately it is packaging that has aimed or considered, to not have a negative impact on the environment. This could be how the raw materials are grown; the means to source the raw materials, the manufacturing process, what the packaging is made of, or how the packaging can be dealt with after its intended use.  To put simply, during its entire lifecycle, how sustainable is the packaging.

FSC certified packaging supplier

If you’re looking for eco-friendly packaging look out for companies that have eco-friendly accreditation and policies such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

For more information on environmentally friendly packaging, our Packaging Specialists are available to offer advice, simply contact us on 0800 542 44 29 or sales@rajapack.co.uk.

[i] https://www.whistl.co.uk/news/eco-packaging-does-it-matter/

How to recycle gift packaging

Christmas is coming and it’s a busy time for everyone making sure we’re organised for the big day. One thing that can be overlooked is what to do with all the used gift wrapping and boxes once those presents have been opened. As a nation we’re very aware of the importance of recycling, however at Christmas with so much packaging and wrapping around it’s not always clear what we can recycle.

Kraft paper gift packaging

In this post we will be looking at how to recycle gift bags, gift boxes, tissue paper and gift wrap so you can ensure that you’re recycling the right items this Christmas.

We’ve got your gift wrap recycling questions all wrapped up

One of the most common leftovers we all have after Christmas is a mountain of gift wrap, so it’s no surprise that we’re often asked “is gift wrap recyclable?” This isn’t a straightforward question to answer as there are a few factors to consider, but in short – if you can scrunch the paper into a ball and it stays scrunched, then it should be ok to recycle it (remember to remove any plastic tape first!).

Not all gift wrap is recyclable though as it can often contain materials other than paper, such as plastic or glitter. We’ve covered this in more detail below, so read on for more information on what can and can’t be recycled.

Gift bags are a great way to give a present without having to wrap them first, and they also come in a huge range of colours, designs and finishes. A common way to recycle gift bags is to reuse them when giving a gift to a friend or relative, but once they wear out can you recycle gift bags in your normal paper recycling collection? If the bag is made from paper or thin cardboard then you should be able to remove any non-recyclable extras such as ribbon handles, plastic tags or decorations before you recycle. Remember though, this does depend on your local council recycling restrictions, as they vary across the UK. To make things easier, we have included useful links below on where to find this information online.

Over 12.5 million tonnes of paper and cardboard are used in the UK per year* and they’re widely recycled, but can gift boxes be recycled as easily? Luckily, recycling gift boxes is straightforward. Simply remove any non-recyclable items such as plastic packaging from inside the box, metal embellishments and glittered areas. Then flatten the box before disposing of it, to save on space in your recycling bin.

Are gift bags recyclable?

Even though gift bags can be recycled it is not a straight forward answer. Gift bags have excellent durability meaning that they can be used many times before they start to look worn and become unusable. Eventually they will start to wear out, look tired and will need to be disposed of. But it depends on what the bag is made from as gift bags can be made from paper or lightweight cardboard, sometimes with a plastic coating. There are also countless decorations from ribbons to plastic jewels, metal, feathers… the list is endless! Though if the bag is made from paper or thin cardboard then once you have removed the decorations, gift tags and handles it should be safe to recycle.

Add coloured tissue paper to gift bags

Because there are so many different materials a gift bag can be made from, it’s best to check with your local authority as some will accept gift bags and some may not. To find out what’s recyclable in your area click these links for England & Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Select one of the three options to find out what can be recycled in your local area then type in your post code for the results.

Are gift boxes recyclable?

Like gift bags, gift boxes are recyclable as they can be reused. Gift boxes are very handy when giving multiple gifts or those of an unusual shape that are difficult to wrap, it can be simpler to use a gift box. Decorated gift boxes can have different textures, coatings and finishes on the cardboard box material which can make it tricky to know if they can be recycled. With so much potential confusion it’s no surprise that we are often asked by our customers “can you recycle gift boxes?”

Jewellery gift boxes

Most of the time you can, just check what material the box is made from, if it’s cardboard then you can recycle! It’s important to remove any plastic coated gift tags, bows, ribbons or glitter covered areas as these can’t be recycled. Remove any items from inside the box, this could be plastic packaging or even a forgotten gift! You’ll also want to flatten the box to save on space in your recycling.

Alternatively, instead of throwing gift boxes away, don’t forget you can reuse them for gifting! Also they can make a great stylish storage solution around your home or office for paperwork, shoes, toys… anything that will fit inside!

Can gift wrap be recycled?

Most of us are used to seeing the mountains of used gift wrap on Christmas Day morning once those presents have been opened, and you may ask yourself can gift wrapping paper be recycled? It’s not a simple answer, even though we know it as ‘wrapping paper’ it often contains more materials than just paper. Gift wrap that contains foil or glitter is not recyclable, nor is plastic sticky tape or decorations such as bows and ribbons. If you bought recycled wrapping paper though, it should be safe to recycle again.

If you’re still asking can you recycle gift wrapping paper, there is an easy way to find out with the scrunch test. Squash the paper into a ball and if it stays in a ball shape then you can probably recycle it.

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Is gift wrapping paper recyclable by your local authority? Some councils will take away your wrapping paper with your roadside collection, while others may want you to take it to a recycling centre. To find out about your area click for England & Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Select one of the three options to find out what can be recycled in your local area.

Can you recycle tissue paper?

A brilliant addition to any gift is tissue paper to add elegance and style to a present, but is tissue paper recyclable? As with most recycling, it depends on the type of tissue paper so it’s best to check with the retailer first. Our range of tissue paper are recyclable, these include coloured tissue paper, white tissue paper and metallic tissue paper – this is because we use soluble ink to achieve the metallic effect rather than using synthetic coatings. If in doubt, check with the retailer or your local council before you recycle.

Gift box with colourful tissue paper

There are other ways to recycle used tissue paper as it can easily be crafted for a variety of uses. You can create countless decorations or even shred ripped tissue paper to use again in future.

So, is tissue paper compostable? Mostly, yes – tissue is made from recycled materials and is constructed of short fibres so it does break down in a composter, you can wet it first to start the process. So then ? As with most recycling there are some exceptions to the rule, if the tissue paper has a coated metallic finish then it’s probably not going to breakdown easily so you may want to try some of our ideas for reusing it above.

Before attempting to recycle any gift packaging, check first with your local authority if they will take it away or if you need to take it to the recycling centre. Remember to remove any glitter, decorations and plastic coated areas. Don’t forget that you can upcycle your old gift packaging into something new or reuse it for another gift.

For more information read our environmental FAQs and you can find our full range of gift packaging on our website but if you need help and advice simply contact our team on 0800 542 44 28, or sales@rajapack.co.uk.

* https://www.recyclingbins.co.uk/recycling-facts/

The problem with plastic

Every bit of plastic ever made still exists - the problem with plasticOur 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, you might not realise it but it 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 it does not 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] It 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 too 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/

Corrugated cardboard boxes 101: What you need to know

Cardboard is the one of the most popular packaging materials in use today, and the most well known is corrugated cardboard boxes, 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 RAJA 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?

Corrugated cardboard can be used for various applications, the most common is to house items with the use of a corrugated cardboard box. But first, let’s understand 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

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!

Why is corrugated cardboard so strong?

Corrugate cardboard is so strong because of it’s internal structure, and this contributes to the same reason why corrugated cardboard is a good insulator. 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. And all between the fluting air is trapped and cannot move around, the layers prevent the air from escaping making it a poor head conductor.

Is corrugated cardboard recyclable?

Corrugated cardboard is recyclable, for additional information on RAJA and the environment why not take a look at our environmental FAQs and read on.

As a packaging provider we must be mindful of how our packaging materials can be recycled  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 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.  Non-corrugated cardboard 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.

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.