Category Archives: Packaging Products & Materials

Can you recycle plastic bags?

There is a growing interest in sustainability and ‘green-ness’ among businesses and consumers today and many ask can plastic bags be recycled? For instance, are plastic bags recyclable across the board, can plastic bags with paper labels be recycled and what plastic bags can be recycled are issues that more people are wrestling with today than ever before.Plastics and plastic bags need recycling, the good news is that they can even be made into recycling binsPlastics and plastic bags need recycling, the good news is that they can even be made into recycling bins (Image: Wikipedia)

From plastic carrier bags – of which the average UK household has 40 stashed away, forming just part of the 8.5 billion produced every year – to grip-seal bags, self-sealing bags, sandwich bags, bin bags and specialist covers for (covering) pallets and other industrial goods, the plastic bag is so useful we just keep on making them.Bags for bears, bags and shirts:  plastic bags can be used for almost anything – and often more than just once

But, increasingly recycling and reuse is becoming an important consumer consideration – so what can we do to recycle and reuse plastic bags?

Here we outline how plastic bags are made, what they are made of, how they can be reused and, if not reused, how to actually recycle them back into raw materials.

How are plastic bags made?

Before looking at how to recycle and reuse plastic bags, we first need to ponder how are plastic bags produced? What are plastic bags made of varies depending on how they are going to be used, but the majority of those used in packaging are made from various grades of polythene.

Plastic bags are made from oil.  In fact, six per cent of all oil is used to make plastics and plastic bags constitute some 40% of the use of those plastics. Oil is processed to create long chain molecules of polyethylene using heat and pressure that arrive as pellets of plastic.

Different combinations of heat and pressure produce different densities of plastic, with carrier bags being made typically of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) and plastic film and thinner bags being made from Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE).What are polyethylene pellets?

Polyethylene pellets: the starting point for plastic bags and what they can be recycled back into (Image: Goodfreephotos.com)These pellets are then heated again and extruded to make film – of differing thickness depending on the use – which are then cut to size and the seams sealed up, again using heat, to form a bag.Plastic bags are made from polyethylene filmPlastic bags are made from polyethylene film (Image: Plastic Bag Manufacturing Process/YouTube)

How can plastic bags be reused?

Plastic bags are, relative to their weight, very strong and tend not to weather and degrade all that quickly, so they are ideal for repeat use.

So how can plastic bags be recycled? The obvious way is to reuse them as a bag. Plastic carrier bags can be used repeatedly to carry groceries or anything else after their first use. Other kinds of plastic bags can be used to hold all sorts of items for storage or to keep them clean, fresh and protected.

Aside from reusing plastic bags as bags, they have all manner of other secondary uses. They are ideal for covering outdoor plants in winter to protect them from frost. They can also be used, scrunched up, as padding in packages that you are sending through the post.

Used bags can also be used to protect paint brushes when not in use, line pain trays, litter trays and even birdcages.

Clothes designed with carrier bags

You can even make clothes out of used carrier bags (Image: Salford University/Flickr)

When they are getting to the end of the (re)useful life, they can be used as small bin liners – although throwing them away, then, with the rubbish inside them brings their reuse to an end. It is at this point that that how to recycle the plastic becomes more imperative.

Why is it important to recycle plastic bags?

Plastic bags means they are very useful, but also must be reused or recycled

The indestructible nature of plastic bags means they are very useful, but also must be reused or recycled rather than thrown away (Image: Wikipedia)Plastic bags are so useful that they have of course been produced in massive numbers and, while there are clear ways to reuse them, it is also important that rather than throw them away when they have finished their useful life/lives that they are recycled.

Plastic bags are very strong – which is why they are useful – but they take a long time to biodegrade if thrown away. Conversely, LDPE and HDPE materials can readily be recycled. Taking them to a recycling centre will see them washed, shredded, melted and reformed into plastic pellets to be reformed into new plastic items, most likely more bags, as well as plastic rubbish bins among other things.

So how can plastic bags be recycled? The easiest way is to reuse them, but, when the time comes to throw them away, they need to be recycled. Can you put plastic bags in recycle bin? If they are made of LDPE or HDPE, then they can be readily recycled through standard, council recycling schemes, so yes, pop them in your normal recycling bin.

Recycle your plastic bags

Look out for on plastic bags showing that they can be recycled (Image: RecycleNow)

It is easy to see which bags can be recycled as they have the above symbols printed on them – usually on or near the bottom – and these can be taken to the recycling centre or supermarket collection points. To find the nearest one take a look at this handy bag recycling centre locator.

Plastic recycling symbols

More detailed plastic recycling information can also be found on bags

More detailed labels can also be found on bags – and other plastic items – outlining more precisely what they are made of and how they should be disposed of/recycled. These outline the material(s) used in the making of the bag and what they can be used for. It can also be correlated with recycling information on bins at recycling centres.

Recycling centre for plastics being recycled

Recycling centre for plastics being recycled (Image: thinkinghumanity.com)

Are plastic mailing bags recyclable?

So can you recycle plastic mailing bags? With many bag types being used to mail goods – there is a growing need for plastic bags in the ecommerce age but how recyclable are the bags on offer? The answer is straightforward: so long as they are made from LDPE or HDPE and, if labelled, label with paper packaging labels so the mailing bags can be recycled.

Plastic mailing bags with write on labels are a single material and so can be readily recycled (Image: Raja).

Some mailing bags contain padding – such as bubble bags – to protect more delicate items when in the mail or in transit and these too can be recycled, so long as the padding and the bag are made from polythene.

Recycled bubble bags with adhesive strip

For other goods, particularly sensitive electronics, some mailing bags feature integrated metallised shielding. These bags are made of LDPE, but have a layer of metallised polyester in them too, to shield what’s within from static.

Antistatic, metallised shielding bags

The rise of ecommerce and the sale of more electronic devices is driving up the need for this sort of composite packaging, both for the supply of electronic parts to manufacturers and delivery of finished goods to consumers.

In theory these can be recycled as both materials – polythene and metallised polyester – can be recycled. In practice, however the two layers are almost impossible to separate and each will contaminate the other when recycled.

Conclusions

Plastic bags may be all over the news as a potential environmental hazard, however, they are endlessly reusable for all sorts of secondary purposes around the home and business – from storing parts to being reused for packaging and padding for sending things through the mail.. With increasing use of plastic bags for mailing goods – driven by ecommerce – there is an inevitable rise in their use, but so long as you stick to using bags made from polyethylene, then not only can these bags be reused but they can also be recycled and turned into new bags and many other things.

Want to know more about plastic bags for storage and mailing?

For additional advice on plastic bags and all your plastic bag 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.

 

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.

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

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.

Don’t get stuck with the wrong kind of tape – masking and paper tape guide

Masking tape and paper tape guide

Tape plays a vital role in any business and its uses are multifarious. From sticking things together, to sealing packages, to acting as de facto labels; without tape, many of us would quickly come unstuck.

But which kinds of tape are best for which jobs? Here we take a look at some of the common kinds of tape available and what each is best suited to. Let’s get stuck in…

What is masking tape?

Masking tape is a lightly adhesive, easy to tear, paper tape, that can be smoothly applied and removed without leaving marks or damage. Traditionally also known as painter’s tape, masking tape comes in a variety of widths and is designed for use in painting, to mask off areas that should not be painted.

Masking tape and labelling

Masking tape can be used for all sorts of things – especially making labels (image: Chiara Torre, Flikr)

However, the gentleness of masking tape – thanks to its low-level adhesive – makes it ideal for many other uses, not least in packaging.

What is masking tape used for?

Masking tape is used for an array of tasks despite it being originally designed for masking during painting. According to a Reader’s Digest study, people use it to mend everything from Hoover bags to umbrellas, to hang party streamers or to even make a road for toy cars!

Creative ideas with masking tape

Masking tape makes for a great road (image: pequefelicidad on Pinterest)

But by far its most prevalent, non-painting use is to label things – and this is where masking tape comes into its own. It offers a clean and simple way to label and identify small products or components, without damaging them. The tape sticks to most surfaces, be they metal or plastic, without leaving a mark – making it ideal for labelling in offices and warehouses. It is also water and heat resistant, so it is ideal for marking products that are shipped overseas.

It also comes in a multitude of sizes, with small tape being ideal to label and protect a small number of components, or to make sure that the goods remain untrammelled, there is a range of reliable Scotch 3M masking tape that can be cleanly removed after use.

What is paper tape?

Having learned about masking tape, you might now be asking yourself – ‘so what is paper tape?’. Understandably we can see why there might be some confusion over this popular material. Masking tape can apply itself to a multitude of tasks, it often isn’t adhesive enough to be used to seal boxes and packages. For that you need paper tape.

Paper tape applied to a cardboard box

Paper tape offers a much more secure way to seal up boxes and packages, being much more strongly adhesive. It is also water resistant and works well in humid conditions, making it ideal for sealing up boxes for transit or storage.

Self-adhesive paper tape can be quickly and neatly applied direct to the package or box, often from a dispenser.

Self-adhesive paper tape can be applied from a dispenserFor a more secure, longer-term seal, water-activated, gummed paper tape offers an ideal solution, again being applied using a special unit that moistens the tape as it is applied.

Gummed paper tape can be applied with water to affect long-lasting adhesion

Electronic water activated tape dispenser that moistens the tape, ready to be applied

What is paper tape used for?

As we have seen, paper tape is used for sealing up boxes and packages for shipping and transit – ideal for the long haul.

To quickly seal packages, self-adhesive paper tape can be readily applied with a neat, hand-held dispenser, that also features serrated teeth to snap it off at the exact length needed.

For a longer-term seal, gummed paper tape can be applied with water; once dry it bonds to the board. But gummed paper tape has another advantage: it can be recycled. Once pulled off – to open the package – it can be thrown in the recycling or left on the cardboard box, to produce, somewhere down the line, more paper tape, another cardboard box or perhaps even art.

Creating art with paper tape

Paper tape can be recycled – in this case into art (along with some packaging tape) (Image: Marcus Liddle, Flikr)

How to use paper tape?

You might be used to only using plastic tape but once you understand how to use paper tape, you will realise the benefits are suited for certain applications. Being made from paper, it is known for its recyclability. Paper tape – self-adhesive or gummed – is ideal for use on today’s recycled and partially recycled boxes. Many of today’s recycled boxes include a certain amount of plastic, making it hard for plastic tapes to stick and seal. Paper tape forms a much better bond with this sort of material.

Paper tape – especially gummed, reinforced paper tape is also more cost-effective. Cross reinforced tape is strong and, importantly, instantly adheres – so your operatives are using less of it than plastic tape, which most people tend to overuse in multiple layers.

To effectively use paper tape appropriately, remember to apply using a tape dispenser for a smoother adhesion and better application!

What about packaging tape?

So all this talk about paper tape, what about packaging tape. Of course paper tape and masking tape aren’t the only, or always the best options for labelling and sealing packages. Vinyl-based packaging tape is a strong and durable alternative to paper tape, offering a good strong seal for all manner of sizes of package or box.

As you can see, packaging tape comes in a range of sizes and colours and can even be used to usefully seal and label packages, marking them as ‘Fragile’, ‘Do Not Shake’ or even as a security seal to show that they haven’t been tampered with or opened in transit.

Fragile pre-printed vinyl tape is ideal for a strong seal and clear labelling

In conclusion

Packaging tape comes in all sorts of shapes, sizes, colours and makes it one of the most versatile packaging materials. From masking tape that can gently hold things together or act as a lovely label, to paper tape that offers a strong, yet environmentally-friendly, way to seal boxes and packages from transit and storage, the role of tape is huge. Let’s not also forget about custom printed tape, this personalised tape is available in paper and plastic, it allows you to not only seal your packages securely, but also to add your all-important messaging or even some much needed branding – so your customers stick with you, if you’ll pardon the pun.

For more information on packaging tape, simply get in touch with our team of Packaging Specialists who are on hand to offer advice.  Visit rajapack.co.uk or contact 0800 542 44 28, or sales@rajapack.co.uk.

Label it – the ultimate guide to shipping labels

How to label a package

Famously, letters used to arrive on Arthur Wellesley’s doormat having being simply addressed ‘Number 1, London’. While this worked for the Duke of Wellington, today’s ecommerce merchants need to include far more detail than that for packages to not only arrive where they are supposed to, but also to pass seamlessly through the international shipping network.

Here we outline all you need to know – from the basics to the details – of how to label packages for shipping, so that they get where they need to go, get there when they are promised and get there in one piece.

How to label a parcel

Knowing how to label a parcel for delivery has two distinct, yet equally important, attributes: the current name, address and shipping details and the correct kind of label, positioned accurately and firmly.

How to fill out a label

Understanding how to fill out a label depends on the country that it is being sent to, however, the rule of thumb for domestic UK parcels, according to Royal Mail, is that the name and address go on the bottom left-hand corner on the front of the package and is structured with name, building or house number and street, town, city, postcode – all clearly printed or hand written on separate lines in left-aligned text with no full stops or commas.

How to fill out a shipping label

How to fill out a shipping label

For packages going further afield, vendors need to think carefully about how to fill out a shipping label. This differs from simply sending a parcel as you need to factor in the shipping method specified by the customer. If they have selected priority shipping, you need to mark your package accordingly and pay the right postage/shipping fee.

If you are using a courier you will also need to print out their labelling as this will feature all the barcoded information that they need to get the package through their systems from collection to delivery.

How you fill in the shipping label will depend largely on the carrier and can usually be done via their website and printed out. See the section below for some examples as we look more in depth at shipping labels.

How to label a package

Before we take a more detailed look at shipping labels, it is worth pausing to look at how to label a package so that the label stays attached. While getting the details right is crucial, making sure that the label stays affixed is also key.

The best way to do this is to print the shipping details onto bespoke shipping labels and to make sure that they are properly attached.

You will also have to mark the package with what it contains: outlining whether the contents is fragile, perishable, corrosive, flammable and so on. You may also want to label your parcel “this way up” if the goods need to be kept level.

While many shipping companies will require the details of what is being shipped – especially if you’re dealing with international freight – these types of labels also help the goods arrive in prime condition: something vital to your business.

Document enclosed labels with the words ‘Documents enclosed’ printed on the actual label have the dual purpose of denoting what products are found in the parcel, as well as displaying the delivery address for the courier.

Plain printed and green doc enclosed

Documents enclosed envelope labels: putting all the details in a handy adhesive wallet is a great idea

There is also an extensive range of other labels to denote contents and handling instructions, such as ‘Fragile’, ‘Handle With Care’ – which are there to help keep the product ship shape during transport, as well as to inform the carrier of the special requirements or to warn of any dangers or issues with the contents.

Shipping labels

‘Fragile’ and ‘This Way Up’ are just some of the ways to label your package

And for extra safety, there are even TiltWatch packaging labels, where the indicator turns red if the parcel has been tilted 90 degrees or more.

Specialist Tiltwatch packaging labels available at RAJA

TiltWatch packaging labels: a handy way to see if your package has been kept the right way up

How to label a box for shipping

As we have seen, learning how to label a box for shipping is key to getting your package to the right person, at the right time and in mint condition. Shipping labelling is vital to making this happen.

What is a shipping label?

A shipping label differs from an address label in that it not only features the address of where the package is to go, but also specifies the contents of the container being shipped.

When looking at how to write a shipping label, you must make sure that it contains the sender’s address, the recipient’s address, its weight, the contents of the package and, if the merchandise is subject to any form of inspection – especially when it crosses borders – the inspection information must also be included.

Labels also include information relating to the method of shipping – be it priority, standard and so on – the carrier, the date sent and tracking information for the shipper.

What does a shipping label look like?

If you’re unsure on what a shipping label looks like, below is an example, but yours will feature the specific information you need to display dependent on what you are shipping and how.

What does a shipping label look like

How to put a shipping label on a package

The shipping label should be on one side of your package – ideally the top if there is a ‘This Way Up’ label on the package – and should be sized so that it fits entirely on that side. Ensure you put a shipping label on a packaging without it being folded over the edges or parts of the label being on the sides, as important information might not be seen or it might prevent it from being scanned!

If you use self-adhesive labels, make sure that they are firmly applied, with no missed corners sticking up, as this could cause the label to be accidentally removed or damaged.

Some shippers also like to cover their labels in transparent tape or insert them into an affixed plastic wallet such as a Documents Enclosed Envelope to protect them from moisture and other damage. This is good practice, but make sure that the whole label is displayed and that the label can be read easily.

In conclusion

So, for anyone who isn’t the Duke of Wellington, these are our top tips for labelling packages for shipping. Remember to clearly show the name and address, show the sender, the contents, weight, priority and customer’s requirements – and make sure that everything is on the label and is firmly secured to the package and, where you think necessary, protected with tape or a cover.

Also consider how to mark your packages with relevant labels, which will help to get it to their destination in mint condition, so look at where best to use ‘Fragile’, ‘This Way Up’ and other labels to help instruct carriers and customers on how to handle the package with care.

For more information, why not read our Labelling Packaging for Shipping guide or visit www.rajapack.co.uk to see our entire range of packaging labels, or call our team of experienced Packaging Specialists on 0800 542 4428.

Warehouse trucks: What you need to know to get things moving

Warehouse vehicles are essential for most businesses that handle goods and products. The use of such vehicles allows the safe transport of products and materials from manufacturing to storage, distribution and then onto retail. It’s important to use the correct equipment when handling loads to maintain the health and safety of employees, it also contributes to business efficiency, protecting items from any unnecessary damage.

Warehouse equipment

In this post we’ll be taking a look at a variety of warehouse equipment in detail, from manually operated sack trucks to powered pallet trucks so you can ensure that your business is running efficiently and safely.

What different warehouse trucks are available?

Different warehouse trucks are available in a wide range of weights, models and dimensions suited to many different tasks. There is so much choice available, from manually operated pallet trucks and sack trucks, to semi-automatic scissor lifting tables, right up to huge hydraulic lifters and even totally self-functioning robots!

If robotics are a bit beyond your current reach, don’t worry! We offer a range of sack, platform and pallet trucks all in different sizes so you can keep your product distribution flowing without a hitch.

What is a sack truck?

Heavy duty and budget sack trucks

To help you differentiate the types of warehouse trucks, this section will explain what is a sack truck. Commonly used for lighter loads, a sack truck works by levering the weight of an item, balancing it over the trucks’ wheels allowing it to be transported easily. Sack trucks are commonly made from materials such as aluminium, steel tubing or high impact plastic, making them lightweight and versatile for a range of duties. But what is a sack truck used for? The sack truck’s purpose is to transport goods from one place to another. This could be a stack of heavy boxes, machinery or even used by baggage handlers to move heavy luggage.

Did you know, sack trucks were originally used in the 18th century by young harbour workers who were employed to move heavy bags of spices around the docks!

Sack trucks are extremely versatile, cost effective and easy to use. They allow one warehouse operative to move something that may otherwise take 2 or 3!. Even though they are easy to use, knowing how to use a sack truck safely is very important and to also warehouse errors.

Firstly, check the truck and wheels before use to make sure it’s not damaged, and ensure the load does not exceed the weight limit of the truck. Carefully place the load on top of the toe (this is the flat metal piece that rests on the floor) so it’s ready to be lifted, and make sure it’s secured before gently pulling the top of the sack truck towards you and pushing forward.

As sack trucks require no formal training to operate, it’s important to feel confident and know exactly what to do when operating one. If you have concerns, do speak to your supervisor or the manufacturer of the truck before using it.

What is a pallet truck?

What is a pallet truck

Moving on to the next type of warehouse truck, answering, what is a pallet truck? As the name suggests, pallet trucks are machines designed for lifting and moving pallets. They’re a basic form of forklift truck and are mostly used to move pallets and their goods around warehouses. They come in 2 main forms; manual and electric powered. For this post we will be focusing on manual pallet trucks which are commonly used in warehouses and in the retail sector.

If you’re looking at purchasing a pallet truck you may be wondering how much does a pallet truck weigh? The answer entirely depends on the pallet truck you may be considering – we currently offer 7 of the most popular manual pallet trucks but there are countless more available in the marketplace.

A pallet trucks’ weight is not necessarily an indication of how much it can lift. So then, what is a pallet truck’s safe maximum handling limit? This varies depending on the individual piece of machinery. For example, our Extra heavy duty pallet truck weighs in at 80kg with a maximum load capacity of 3,000kg whereas our Economy pallet truck weighs 79kg and has a maximum load capacity of 2,500kg. It all depends on the intended use of the truck, so work out the typical weight to be lifted, where the pallet truck will be stored when not in use, and who will be operating it, before making a final decision on which one to purchase.

Just like sack trucks, using a pallet truck does not require any formal training, so knowing how to use a pallet truck before you start is important!

Step-by-step guide: How does a pallet truck work?

How does a pallet truck work? Step by step guide

  1. Before you begin to use the truck, check the body and wheels are in good condition and not damaged.
  2. Check the maximum load of the pallet truck and ensure the weight of the load you’re intending to move doesn’t exceed this.
  3. Find the release lever, this is a small lever usually near the handles that drops the lifting prongs to the floor. Pull the lever to lower the prongs, then slide the prongs underneath the pallet.
  4. Once in position, repeatedly pull the handles towards you which will start to lift the prongs.
  5. When the prongs and load are at a suitable height, you should be able to smoothly push the pallet truck to move it.

Remember, if you’re unsure then speak to your employer or the manufacturer of the truck before attempting to use it.

Learning the mechanics: How does a pallet truck work?

How does a pallet truck work?

Hopefully the step-by-step guide, this section will go into more depth into the mechanics of how does a pallet truck work. Manual pallet trucks are able to lift and carry heavy loads using hydraulics. When the release lever is pulled, it releases the hydraulic fluid, lowering the prongs. The action of repeatedly pulling the handles towards you increases the pressure in the hydraulic fluid, raising the prongs and the load.

So how should an operator move a pallet truck? Manual pallet trucks can be pushed or pulled, although most people are able to push more weight than they can pull, so it’s always safer for the handler to push.  To find out how to use a pallet truck safely always speak to your employer, the manufacturer or read our short guide in the section above.

To reduce the risk of injury from lifting equipment used at work, The Lifting Operations Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) was created under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Main areas covered as part of LOLER are:

  • To ensure lifting equipment is strong enough for safe use and marked to indicate safe working loads.
  • Ensuring that any equipment is positioned and installed to minimise risks.
  • Any work done is planned, organised and performed by a competent person.
  • Lifting equipment is regularly inspected by competent people.

More information can be found about LOLER on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website.

So are pallet trucks covered by LOLER? The HSE states that pallet trucks are not covered by LOLER where the consequence of the load falling off is very low. However, where the equipment is used in the workplace, it will need to be properly maintained and may be subject to inspection under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER).

We have a core range of essential equipment at RAJA however if you’re looking for a wider choice visit our sister company Welco.

If you’d like more information about our range of warehouse trucks, or help on selecting the right warehouse equipment for your needs simply get in touch with our team of Packaging Specialists who will be happy to help. Visit www.rajapack.co.uk or contact our team on 0800 542 44 28, or sales@rajapack.co.uk.

What is tissue paper? Everything there is to know

With winter upon us, you may find yourself adding tissues to your shopping list to help with a cold. But tissue paper is also an amazing material for gift wrapping, as well as offering exceptional packaging protection for fragile or sensitive items.

In today’s post we’re focusing fully on tissue paper which can be used to protect some less fragile goods in transport and is commonly used to add decoration and colour to gifts. We’ll explore the history, as well as how it’s made and sold across the UK.

RAJA coloured tissue paper for craft or gift wrap

What exactly is tissue paper?

So to directly answer what is tissue paper, it is a super lightweight paper type usually made from recycled paper pulp. The term ‘tissue paper’ covers a wide range of different products including paper towels, toilet tissue, facial tissues, wrapping tissue, and many more.

So let’s start at the beginning – when was tissue paper invented? This isn’t a straightforward question to answer as it isn’t well documented. The earliest known use of paper as a wrapping and padding material was in China 2nd century BC. Over time, product wrapping and transportation of goods became crucial to business and the global economy, so the thick paper originally used to wrap and protect evolved into the tissue paper we know and use today. There are many other materials suitable for protecting items in transport, take a look at our protective packaging range for more.

It’s not known exactly who invented tissue paper, but the evolution of this material could be linked to Joseph Gayetty’s invention of toilet tissue in 1857, which uses a similar production process.

How is tissue paper made?

How tissue paper is made

Source: http://processengineering.co.uk/article/2011773/saica-starts-new-rec

To understand how is tissue paper made we need to start at the beginning and ask what is tissue paper made of? it is made using paper pulp (wood fibre) or recycled paper materials such as cardboard, newspapers, or certain types of juice carton. The wet pulp is then rolled on a paper machine until the desired thickness is achieved. It’s dried in a large steam heated section of the machine and rolled onto huge cylinders called logs ready to be cut to size.

Sometimes as this popular material ages it can become acidic and brittle. This acidity could cause damage to sensitive items being stored within it, such as clothes and books. This has led to the creation of acid free tissue paper.

But exactly what is acid free tissue paper and how does it differ from standard tissue?

Acid free tissue paper is specifically processed without certain agents, it differs from standard tissue paper which is made with agents that can turn acidic over time. This makes it ideal for storage of products or items such as jewellery, fabric, crockery, ornaments and antiques.

You may wonder is all tissue paper acid free? Put simply no – both types of tissue are available and are used for different purposes. Acid free tissue paper has a wide range of uses with more fragile or delicate items, however standard tissue paper can be used for many things including general wrapping, bottle wrapping, as a filler for gift boxes and gift bags as well as countless uses in crafts.

Tissue paper is a relatively inexpensive way to brighten the unboxing experience, adding another layer of excitement to the theatre of receiving a gift. The huge range of colours and finishes available make it suitable for any occasion from Weddings to Birthdays, Christmas and beyond!

What is the difference between crepe paper and tissue paper?

Although very similar materials, the difference between crepe paper and tissue paper begins in the manufacturing process. Crepe paper starts life as tissue paper, then a thin layer of adhesive is applied over the tissue paper and scraped with a blade. This creates a gathered, crinkled effect. Crepe paper is often used in crafts and is also the backing for various types of tape, including masking tape and electrical tape.

What is a ream of tissue paper?

You’ll have no doubt heard the term – a “ream”, but what is a ream of tissue paper and what does this mean? A ream is one unit of paper in which the sheets are all the same size and quality. Reams are regulated in the UK by the ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) to ensure manufacturers and retailers sell the same quantity of paper in a single ream. But how many sheets are there in a ream of tissue paper? The international standard quantity for a ream of tissue paper is 480 sheets.

A pile of coloured tissue paper reams

With 480 sheets in a ream, you may be wondering how much does tissue paper weigh? One ream weighs about the same as 3 x 1 litre bottles of water. We also sell our shredded tissue paper in 3kg boxes, however you can buy this in a variety of weights according to your selected retailer.

All paper types come in a variety of thicknesses which is measured in Grams per Square Metre (GSM). GSM is a numerical scale, the lower the number, the thinner the paper. Generally tissue paper ranges from 10 to 35 GSM. For comparison, office printer paper is typically 70 to 100 GSM and greeting cards are 250+ GSM.

If you’d like more information about tissue paper, our range of protective packaging products, or help on selecting the right packaging for your business simply get in touch with our team of Packaging Specialists 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.

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/