Category Archives: Packaging Products & Materials

Types of edge and corner protectors

When it comes to transporting products we all want our goods to arrive in perfect condition. If palletised or stacked, packages can be particularly vulnerable as their square edges and corners are particularly exposed to bruising or crushing. But help is at hand: as part of the wide range of packaging materials available to retailers and shippers are a plethora of edge and corner protectors.

From foam corner protectors to sturdy cardboard edge protectors, there are a vast array of solutions to this problem, both in standard and non-standard size. Here we take a look at what is on offer and how best to use them.

Types of edge and corner protectors

There are a wide range of edge and corner protectors designed to suit the needs of the wide variety of packages stacked and wrapped, palletised and shrink wrapped. Let’s start at the corners, as these are particularly prone to bangs and bashes as boxes are stacked and moved around and loaded against each other for transit purposes.

Foam U profile edge protectorsCorner protectors can be made of either cardboard or foam. Corner foam can be either a simple ‘U’ shape corners protectors or, more elaborately, full corner protectors design to protect in three dimensions, each designed for very specific uses

U shaped foam corner protectors are designed to grip tables, shelving, wooden boards or furniture for added protection during transit or storage. They are strong and absorb small impacts, as well as being temperature resistant between -40 and +100ºC.

3D foam corners, meanwhile, are designed to provide protection and extra support to the corners of boxes and palletised goods. They are simple to pop on the corners and are non-abrasive.

Both these and the ‘U’ shaped foam corner protectors are made from closed cell polyethylene foam, CFC and HFC free. They are also 100% recyclable.

How do edge protectors work?

Edge protectors, meanwhile, have a very different role to play. They are similarly used to protect the edges of boxes and palletised boxes from bumps and bashes, but they can also beused to protect the boxes from the fixings used to hold boxes together and on the pallets themselves.

General purpose edge protectors protect and strengthen stacks of boxes

They are also used to add structure and strength to palletised boxes, especially under shrink and film wrap. Together with the fixings and the wrap, these cardboard or foam edge protectors add structure and stabilise loads, so that not only are the goods protected from knocks and bangs, but won’t collapse under their own weight or puncture the cardboard when being moved.

Also available are edge protectors that are used to help support strapping and fixings. These come in both cardboard and moulded plastic, with the plastic offering able to both protect the package from the force of the strap as well as holding the strap securely in place, preventing potentially dangerous movement of the packages.

White card protectors such as moisture resistant edge protectors, also have their specialist uses. While affording protection to stackable pallet loads and held with fixings, these moisture resistant, poly-coated white paper protectors are ideal for use where the pallets are to be stored in cold and/or damp locations for a period of time, such as in a cold store.

These moisture resistant edge protectors stabilise, protect and reinforce unsteady or variable pallet loads during transport and storage. Keeping their strength in humid conditions they can also be used to add reinforcements to cartons.

How do corner protectors work?

Where edge protectors protect from knocks, fixings and add structure, corner protectors are very specifically designed to protect the corners of items such as tables, worktops, shelves and other ‘flat’ goods that have pronounced and often sharp corners.

Table corner protectors can be either plastic or foam and simply slip over the edges of the corners and prevent bumps. Foam corners grip the surface of the table and protect both the table and those handling it from sharp edges.

One solution for tables, worktops and other furniture corner protection are expanding corner protectors, that can stretch from 20 to 40mm and so can handle non-standard sized items.

Similarly worktop corner protectors are vital to preventing these expensive and often bespoke pieces of wood, stone or metal from getting damaged during routine handling. With worktops costing many hundreds – sometimes thousands – of pounds, preventing them getting bashed or chipped; damage that could write off the whole piece.

Heavy duty pallet racking protectors - corner protectors can also be used for safety

As we have seen, there is also a need for safety corner protectors, where the corner protectors not only protect the goods, but also protect those handling the goods.

While heavy duty pallet racking protectors protect vulnerable pallet racking uprights and end-frames from damage from fork lift trucks, protect corners of buildings and doorways and can be put around machines, more simple foam and plastic protectors popped on the ends of shelves and other goods stop personnel hurting themselves when handling the goods.

Foam corner protectors vs cardboard corner protectors

So where do you use foam corner protectors and where do you use cardboard corner protectors? Foam corner protectors are ideal for use where edges aren’t straight, as they are flexible as well as strong. Their ‘spongey’ consistency also makes them ideal for adsorbing small impacts and are good a gripping the surfaces of things that are made from glass, such as pictures, mirrors and glass table tops.

Foam protectors can also be coloured, offering warnings or indications of the nature of the goods being protected – as well as making sure it is clear they have to be removed for use.

Cardboard edge protection, meanwhile, is used for protection but is often more useful for handling pressure points under fixings and strapping, as well as providing additional structure, strength and stability to packages. It too can be coloured or have warnings printed on it, but typically is used in its natural state.

Some other corner protectors

There are a number of other cardboard and foam protectors available for pallets, packages and non-standard shaped goods.

Cardboard pallet corners are ideal for added protection for the corners of square palletised goods in warehouses and during transit. Solid and shockproof these carton protectors are ready to use, just apply to the corners of your product.

L profile cardboard corner protectors ideal for individual boxes

L-shaped cardboard edges are ideal for protecting individual boxes, both from damage and from fixings. They are also ideal for non-standard sized and non-palletised items.

Standard extruded mesh sleeves ideal for really delicate items for the added protection

Often used in conjunction with other protective materials, extruded mesh sleeves are ideal for protecting very delicate objects before they are boxed up. They are strong, flexible, colourful and ideal for glassware.

Self-adhesive blocks prevent movement in boxes

Self-adhesive foam blocks are protective pads that stick to the inside of cartons and protect the contents from movement or damage. Supplied in sheets one surface has a permanent adhesive protected with a peel off backing. The foam pads are pre-scored; just snap them off the sheet.


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Want to know more about our wide range of cardboard and foam edge and corner protectors?

For additional advice on cardboard and foam edge and corner protectors, mesh, blocks and all kinds of fixings, 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.

Large cardboard boxes vs small cardboard boxes: what are the benefits?

The benefits of getting the right sized box are clear: your goods will fit snuggly in, will be well protected and ready to be stored, transported, posted or archived. Here we take a look at what kinds of cardboard boxes are available in what sizes, how to choose the right ones for storage, postage or archiving and take a look at the benefits of large boxes and small boxes.

Small and big cardboard boxes

Large cardboard boxes vs small cardboard boxes: what are the benefits

The chief benefit large cardboard boxes have over small ones is that you can put many small cardboard boxes inside large boxes, shipping smaller items in bulk and giving the goods therein the protection of, essentially, two boxes.

However, large boxes and small boxes come in a wide variety of not only sizes but also formats and sizes, each designed to offer the perfect storage and/or transport solution based around the goods being shipped.

Naturally, for large and bulky items, you will need a large cardboard box – triple walled cardboard boxes. It’s great if, say, you have engine parts to dispatch.  Similarly, 700mm double-walled boxes are designed to stack on pallets – they are standard Euro sized – and are ideal for the storage or transportation of all those items in smaller boxes.

Small boxes on the other hand have a varied array of uses. These come in a variety of sizes and can have reasonably secure lids – making them ideal for sending items through the post, as well as for packaging, storage and, as we shall see, archiving.

How do you store any item safely in archive boxes?

Storing items safely in archive boxes is a vital part of any business. Even in the digital era, it is essential to keep hold of paperwork pertaining to everything from tax to HR to publications and more – and this specific form of storage requires a specific form of box: the archive box.

Archive boxes are designed to be sized to accommodate the standard kinds of paper used in modern offices and, with their sturdy construction and closable lids are ideal for keeping out moisture, damp, dirt and dust – as well as stopping sunlight damage fading what is written on the paper.

To safely store items in archive boxes, you need to choose a box that fits your needs – so for easy access archive box folders have a closable lid and a finger hole for easy access. They can take A4 pages up to around a ream and are ideal for storage on shelves.

For archiving these box folders – for when they are no longer containing current paperwork that you need ready access to, but which you still need to keep – there are a range of cardboard archive boxes that can hold up to five archive files at a weight of 20kg. These have a closable lid offering great protection and handles for easy storage and retrieval.

Also in the pantheon of archiving boxes are Bankers Box transfer files, which are ideal for accessing information and publications that are needed often. They can be easily labelled and shelved and have easy access for users. Bankers Box transfer files can also be archived, in special Bankers Box two-piece cardboard archive file boxes, which are also ideal for storing lever-arch files, ring binders and foolscap magazines. Remember always label your boxes so that you – and others – knows what is where.

For all other archiving demands – from lose papers, to files to magazine and more – there are Snapcase two-piece cardboard archive boxes, which are designed to allow for maximum storage and easy access. They come with handles and a strong base so are ideal for moving things around and the sturdy lid adds protection. And lids are really important, as we shall see shortly.

What are the best boxes for postage?

Thanks to the growing hunger for buying things online, the cardboard box is most popular, and is the most practical – you can buy specialist boxes for postage. The best boxes for postage have to offer a range of things: they have to offer strength and protection for the goods inside, they have to be durable enough to withstand handling and transit, they have to be tough enough not to come apart when being bumped and they have to provide ample space for labelling for addresses and postage franking.

What are the best boxes for storage

With this in mind, there is quite a choice to be made when looking for a box for postage for your items.

The basic postal box is made from ridged flute corrugated postal board, which offers strength and protection for the goods inside when in transit. They also have an easily closed, locking flap that is secure, as well as neat and smart looking. These boxes offer all that you could hope for in a postal box: strength, durability and a sealed lid.

With the growth of ecommerce, ever more complicated and unusual things are being mailed, so postage boxes also come not just in a range of sizes, but also in a range of formats. For starters there are flat ones, made of the same tough corrugated card, designed for anything flat – and can be a great alternative to mailing bags.

Find the right sized box

Book boxes, meanwhile, are specifically designed for the postage of books, complete with sealable flap and sides to protect the books in transit.

If you are looking to post delicate items such as mugs or electronic devices, glass ware or ceramics then you need to choose postal boxes that will offer added protection. This is where foam-lined postal boxes and deluxe crash-proof postal mug boxes come in to play.

Foam lined boxes have a strong cardboard outer layer, but inside is lined with non-abrasive polyurethane foam that will completely surround what is in the box. Giving it excellent protection from the rigours of postage.

Mug boxes, meanwhile, not only have a crash-lock base, but also an inner cardboard fitting that holds the mug in place throughout the postal process with no need for void fill.

If you need a large box for posting then you need to choose a triple walled, corrugated box which provides delicate items with the shockproof, robust protection they need in the post.

One of the downsides of ecommerce is that things sometimes need to be sent back – and quick pack returnable boxes with adhesive strips are ideal for this. They offer easy and fast assembly, simply push the opposite corners towards each other and the base flaps lock together automatically. These strong and secure crash-lock base boxes close with an adhesive strip so there is no need for tape or glue.

The boxes are easy for customers to open and re-seal; simply pull the tear strip to open then secure the box using the second adhesive strip and it is ready to be returned.

Sometimes a postage box needs to be, well, not a box. For flat items such as maps or charts, textiles or prints, or long or cylindrical objects, postage tubes offer a great postage solution – they are strong both laterally and longitudinally and come with a tough plastic end cap that protects the ends and adds strength to the whole tube.

The benefits of cardboard boxes with lids

While end caps are essential to the integral strength of a postal tube, cardboard boxes with lids also offer many benefits for those looking to post, transport and store items. Cardboard boxes with lid features are ideal for storage, postage and transit as the lid protects the items inside from impact, moisture, dust and dirt. It also stops things falling out.

Having a lid on your box also means that you can stack them on top of the other. The lid also provides an ideal canvas in which to write what the contents is or to put an address label or postage franking if it is for posting.


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Storing items in extra-large cardboard boxes

Extra large carboard boxes have to be innately strong to support themselves and to handle the kind of heavy loads that you want to store or transport in them. For this reason, extra large cardboard boxes are constructed from triple walled, corrugated card and can handle loads of up to 500 kg – the weight of a small cow.

It is best to pick large cardboard boxes that come in Euro or Chep/UK pallet sizes, as this makes them much easier to store and transport en masse. They are also strong enough to with stand the strapping needed to palletise such boxes, especially if you put strapping protectors on them.

These boxes are the expert’s choice when shipping large goods such as machine parts, domestic appliances, builder’s tools and construction products.

The best shipping boxes to use for certain items

Increasingly in the ecommerce era the packaging is as important as the goods contained therein. Not only does the box in which goods are shipped protect the items in transit, but also can offer part of the experience of receiving the item itself – especially if it is a gift for someone else.

So join us as we take a look at what kinds of shipping boxes and gift boxes there are for everything from everyday objects to special gifts such as books, mugs, pictures and more.

The best shipping boxes to use for certain items

Ecommerce has seen something of a resurgence in the fortunes of the cardboard box. Getting goods ordered online to where they need to go requires the best shipping boxes, which come in all shapes and sizes, to both protect the goods in transit and, increasingly, to offer a nice ‘unboxing’ experience for the recipient.

From book boxes designed to accommodate the latest in publishing, to mug boxes and picture boxes, packaging for shipping is now spoiled for choice. So how do you choose?

What is available runs from simple flat cardboard boxes for everything from magazines to more delicate items such as electronics right through to specialist boxes for things like computers or keyboards through to bespoke packages designed for much more specific purposes.

These boxes come in a range of sizes, but can also be used with packaging materials to further protect the goods and help them fit snuggly in the box.

But the humble cardboard box is more complex than you may imagine. While they come in standard sizes as seen, they also come in a variety of other forms to make packing – and unpacking– goods slightly easier for both the shipper and the customer.

Double wall, flat telescopic cardboard boxes

Telescopic boxes offer flexible ways to package

For example, there are telescopic boxes which feature a main body with a lid that slides over it. This allows for the packaging of items that are of non-standard sizes and shapes, as well as meaning that package and shippers need only minimal different types of boxes for a wide range of goods.

However, these are just the beginning: for specialist products, or to offer a good fit, there are many other boxes to choose from.

What are the different types and sizes of book boxes? 

Book boxes designed to get tomes delivered in mint condition

Amazon started in Jeff Bezos’ garage back in 1994 – at number 5, Bellevue, Washington on 5 July 1994 to be precise – selling books. And today, books remain a large part of what is send through the mail. To protect these valuable and beautiful things there is a growing range of bespoke book boxes that are specially designed to make sure your rom-coms, classics or reference works arrive in mint condition.

The different types of book boxes available are designed around basic book sizes – as well as accommodating CDs, DVDs and box sets – while offering some flexibility as to the thickness of the book or box set.

As well as this there are a range of ways that the boxes can be sealed shut.

Book boxes are cleverly designed one-piece cardboard contraptions that fold beautifully over the book to make it easy to package up and just as easy to undo when it arrives.

Thanks to its clever design, these boxes can adjust in height to accommodate a single book or multiple books, as well as single or multiple CDs or DVDs, boxsets and more.

Brown book boxes

Book boxes can be glued, taped or strapped together

Sealed closed with an adhesive strip, glue, tape or strapping, book boxes are secure and tough for postal or courier transportation, offering shock protection, especially on the corners. And no one wants a book with bent corners, do they?

Brown book boxes with adhesive strips and red tear strip

Self-adhesive tape on book boxes makes them easy to seal

Some book boxes come with their own adhesive tape built in, making it even easier to assemble them around the goods being shipped and stuck down.

What are the best shipping boxes for pictures?

Shipping pictures comes with its own set of challenges and picking the best box for your pictures depends on their size and shape.

Shipping boxes for pictures are another specialist box that again is designed to protect very fragile items. Flat and often self-sealing, these boxes are designed to protect pictures – which feature delicate glass, wooden frames and often delicate paper prints – on the move.


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Similar in design to book boxes, shipping boxes for pictures are one-piece cardboard constructions that fold over the goods – again with some flexibility as to thickness of the picture frame – that offer excellent shock and scratch protection.

These packing boxes for framed pictures, too, can be self-sealing or can be sealed using tape or strapping to hold them closed until the recipient is ready to open them up.

What are the different types of cardboard gift boxes?

As said, increasingly the packaging in which things are delivered – especially gifts – is all part of the unboxing experience: not least if it is an actual gift ordered by one person and sent to another.

Cardboard gift boxes come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, colours and styles to suit a wide range of gift giving.

Jewellery gift boxes

Cardboard jewellery boxes add a touch of class

One of the most obvious gifts that finds itself inside a cardboard gift box is jewellery. Cardboard jewellery boxes offer protection, but with tastefully coloured card and lined with linen and padded packing, these boxes are ideal for not only protecting the items in transit, but presenting them beautifully when they arrive where they are heading.

Luxury magnetic wine gift boxes

Wine is also a gift – and there is a box perfect for that

But not all gifts are jewellery shaped. Wine is also being sent as a gift, along with all manner of other things – and there is wide range of gift boxes to suit all these lovely things.

Pillow gift boxes

Pillow gift boxes for small delicate items

But how do you seal these elegant boxes closed? Tape and strapping may be secure, but could spoil the elegant effect you are going for. To solve this problem, many gift boxes now have magnetic seals built in.

Magnetic gift boxes

Gift boxes come with magnetic seals to avoid using tape and straps

These boxes have a flat magnet on their lid flap and a flat metal plate built into the face of the box, so that when the lid is closed it seals shut with enough force to keep it closed in transit, but not so tight that it can’t be popped open by the lucky recipient.

When is the best time to use a mug box?

Easifold, fast assembly mug postal boxes

While we all like to get jewels, wine or other lovely gifts, there is also a roaring trade in mugs and mug boxes have been specially created to make sure these fragile, ceramic items can be transported safely and securely.

The best time to use a mug box is when trying to ship such a mug. Increasingly, with the commoditisation of printing, people can have also sorts of fun things printed on mugs and this roaring trade has been boosted greatly by ecommerce.

But there is a choice to make when looking at which mug box to use for your product.

Deluxe crash-lock postal mug box

Deluxe crash-tested boxes for mug are also available

Like book boxes and shipping boxes for framed pictures, mug boxes are easy to fold around their prized content and have been specially designed and tested with a double thickness base, triple thickness sides to protect fragile handles and rims, and reinforced corners to defend against knocks in the post.

For extra protection there are other specially designed boxes that features a crash-lock base, as well as an inner cardboard fitting that holds the mug in place obviating the need for void filling packaging material.

 


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Want to know more about our wide range of shipping boxes for specific items?

For additional advice on the best shipping boxes for specific items, 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.

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

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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.

How to use a heat gun for shrink wrapping

Using a heat gun to wrap and package goods is quite straightforward. Shrink wrapping offers a sturdy, protective and professional way to pack goods for storage, transport and even for sale. But to get the best from the material, the wrap needs to be heated so that it can shrink – and that means using a heat gun. Here we take a look at how to choose the right wrap for your needs and then how to use a heat gun to make it work.

Can I use a heat gun for shrink wrapping?

Yes you can use a heat gun for shrink wrapping, it is ideal for professional and effective packing. Shrink wrap is a highly efficient way to protect goods for transit and storage. But for it to work effectively the goods in question have to be wrapped – in the wrap, and then heated so that the film shrinks into place – holding its contents tightly and securely.

PVC shrink wrap

To do this you need a shrink wrap heat gun. The film is made from polyolefin plastic, most commonly polythene and PVC. It is a strong, often transparent and offers protection to heat, cold, moisture, dust and other contaminants. It is also puncture proof and offers a secure way to hold items together for storage and transport and is an ideal way to package various items.

But to get the best out of it the polyolefin plastic needs to be heated so that, as it cools, it shrinks to tightly wrap the goods. But be careful when you heat shrink wrap, as it requires care – so as not to damage the plastic and the goods beneath.

PVC heat shrink rolls shrink at 80 degrees Celsius and have a retraction rate of 40%. It isn’t recommended for food packaging.

How to use a heat gun for shrink wrap

So how do you shrink wrap goods and pallets of goods for transport or storage? For goods on a pallet, or mixed goods that are of non-uniform size and shape, a good starting point would be to use a shrink wrap roll.

Using shrink wrap on an easy to use roll, is a simple method to help palletising or collating. The shrink wrap roll can then be simply un-rolled, and the polythene wrapped around the goods as needed. Allowing for the change of contours and shapes, this helps hold together the goods ready to be heated and shrunk into place to create that all-important tight support and protection.

Shrink wrap on a roll comes in a range of sizes to allow for a variety of sized pallets, goods and needs. Including extra wide for those particularly big or awkwardly shaped products.

It can be found as both a continuous roll of film, this helps to accommodate non-uniform and varied sized and shaped loads. The film can also be manually cut to size, or it is available as a perforated roll, which can be torn off easily for use in sections to cover the load.

To work out the cover height that you need: Load height + 1/2 width + 140 mm. For example, if your load is 1160 mm high (including the pallet) on a standard 800 x 1200 mm pallet, you need a cover with a minimum height of 1160 + 400 +140 = 1700 mm.

Palletising, individual shrink wrap pallet coversAlternatively, it comes as  shrink wrap bags, available in a roll, or shrink wrap pallet covers that can be slipped over the items or pallet ready to be shrunk into place.

Individual shrink pallet covers are available in two sizes – the smallest pallet covers are suitable for pallets with a maximum height of 1160mm and the large pallet covers are suitable for pallets with a maximum height of 1760mm. Manufactured from 120 micron low density polythene, the film is also available as shrink pallet covers perforated on a roll and on a continuous roll.

Prepare your loads by ensuring it is tidy as possible, then secure the load on your pallet, pull the shrink film cover over the whole load. For best results raise the pallet to a position where you have easy access to the underside – then pull the cover down underneath the corners of the pallet.

With shrink wrap pallet covers or bags, pull the bags down over the goods into place.

Then the heating begins. To get the best out of the shrink wrap it needs to then be shrunk into place by using a heat gun. This is done using a shrink wrap gun.

A shrink wrap gun is a heated gun that uses butane or propane gas to create a flame, which is contained in a safety housing which gets hot and radiates heat onto plastic wrap. It is crucial that no contact occurs between the flame and the film – or the film will ignite and burn.

These tools are safe and light enough to use all day long. It is available as part of a complete kit, complete with gas canister, lengthy hose and gun. Some systems are also mobile – featuring a film gun and trolley kit, complete with a portable propane bottle – so that the wrapping can happen on the move within the warehouse or packaging area.

RIPACK 3000 heat shrink film gun and trolley kit

A great example is the RIPACK 3000 Shrink film gun, which is safe and easy to use. The flame is never in contact with the nozzle, which stays cool avoiding any risk of burning. The flame fans out to cover a large area making the shrink process quick and easy.

This heat shrink gun is ergonomic, lightweight (1.22kg) and designed to keep operator fatigue to a minimum with its soft grip handle. The RIPACK 3000 is supplied in its own case and includes a regulator, 8 metres of hose, adjustment spanner and instruction manual. There is a spare igniter store in the handle. The case is sturdy enough to be used as an operator platform. Powered by propane gas (not included).

Want to know more about heat guns?

For additional advice on different packaging films, wrapping machines and heat guns, 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 difference between plastic vs cardboard storage boxes

The difference between plastic vs cardboard storage boxesWhat’s best for storage and shipping; plastic or cardboard storage boxes? Well, it all depends on what you want to store or ship and how you want to store and ship it. In this article we take a look at the different kinds of cardboard and plastic storage boxes available and explain why different materials suit different purposes.

The difference between plastic vs cardboard storage boxes

What are the differences between plastic vs cardboard storage boxes? For anyone remotely connected with shipping, packing or storage, the debate is timeless and all depends on what you are wanting to use them for, as well as personal preference.

On the one hand, cardboard storage boxes are tough and strong, easy to label, cost-efficient and can be recycled. On the other, plastic storage boxes offer a durable, water-resistant, strong and reusable alternative. How do you choose?

Cardboard boxes vs plastic boxes

Deciding on which is better, cardboard boxes or plastic boxes, really does come down to what you are looking to do with the box – and perhaps what you might want to do with the box after you have used it.

And you may be surprised by how environmentally-friendly each is when considered across its lifetime.

For starters, let’s look at cardboard storage boxes with lids. These offer protection for goods and items and, to a limited extent, can be stacked up securely. They are easy to label and, can be extremely cost efficient.

Cardboard storage boxes can be used for a wide range of uses. They can be used for sending fragile items through the post, be it books, mugs, DVDs and more. They can, with the right inserts, also be used to ship and store wine bottles, leveraging the natural protective qualities of strong cardboard to protect the contents.

In fact, cardboard boxes come in such a large variety of shapes and sizes – and with a cornucopia of opens and flaps – that they can be used for almost any storage or shipping purpose. There are long boxes, flat boxes, pallet boxes for stacking on pallets, as well as boxes for shipping and even specialist uses. You can even tailor your box to your product with our adjustable and telescopic cardboard boxes.

Choice of telescopic boxes

Telescopic boxes offer a customisable solution for storage, packaging and shipping

You can also use cardboard boxes to store – or indeed ship – documents, as well as cardboard boxes for archiving and even for easy access to goods through special openings.

There are also a wide variety of very specialist boxes for posters and even for clothes. Either being delivered through ecommerce or for storage or house moves.

And of course, there is also a wide variety of large cardboard boxes all sized 600mm+ to help you find the correct size box for your needs. You can even use RAJA’s own sizing tool to work out the best sized box for your goods – but more of that anon.

But cardboard boxes do have their drawbacks. While they are strong and cost effective, they are also limited in their strength and, perhaps more crucially for some storage and shipping options, not waterproof.The difference between plastic and cardboard storage boxes

This is where plastic storage boxes with lids come in. Plastic storage containers are more costly per unit – but they offer some advantages over cardboard boxes

For starters, plastic storage bins and boxes are generally stronger than their cardboard counterparts and, as a result, can be stacked higher. They can also hold heavier and more awkward items.

The main advantage, however, of plastic over cardboard is that it is waterproof and so is ideal for the storage of items that need extra protection from moisture or other environmental contaminants.

As a result plastic storage boxes can be used to store and ship all manner of small to medium duty items that need to be kept water tight and protected. The boxes with lids can be stacked and, when not in use and with the lids removed, can be nested.

For heavier duty storage and transportation, extra-tough, heavy-duty storage boxes that protect from impact as well as water and other environmental factors can also be used – offering a highly-reliable form of protection for a wide range of goods.

Plastic containers can also be used to store smaller, more delicate items, such as small components, stationery or other goods. Here plastic offers a resilient option that can be reused over and over again, where perhaps a cardboard alternative would wear out.

However, while plastic storage containers have a wide variety of uses and offer a greater degree of reuse, they are not so suitable for some applications. Plastic bins and containers are good for storage and shipping, but are often too expensive for one-off use in last mile delivery. In other words, you won’t find your Amazon book being delivered in a plastic box.

That said, some delivery businesses are toying with plastic – if they can get the boxes back. Plastic boxes, on the face of it, may seem to be less environmentally friendly than cardboard. However, if plastic boxes can be reused numerous times, they start to be less environmentally impactful. Recycling takes a lot of energy – even for paper – so getting more use out of a container can be more efficient, if you can sort out collection.

Types of cardboard storage boxes

While there are advantages to using cardboard or plastic storage boxes, depending on what you want to store where, let us focus for now on cardboard storage boxes, as they come in so many different shapes and sizes.

While for heavy duty and heavy weight storage and shipping needs, plastic is a clear winner, cardboard boxes aren’t as wimpish as you’d think, coming as they do in a wide variety of thicknesses.

For starters, there are single wall cardboard boxes, which are made of a single layer of tough corrugated cardboard and offer robust protection for your products with superior resistance to bursting, humidity and temperature change; in addition tapes adhere perfectly to the surface. The corrugated cardboard and puncture resistant Kraft outer works hard to secure your items, while still maintaining a smooth and clean finish for your adhesive address labels to stick to.

Single wall cardboard boxes

Singled wall cardboard boxes are strong, light and low cost way to store a wide range of items

These boxes are ideal for storing, packing and shipping of products and goods and are delivered flat packed for easy storage and transport.

Double wall cardboard boxes

Double wall cardboard boxes are tougher still for stacking and shipping of fragile objects

If that isn’t enough, there are also a wide range of double wall cardboard boxes, which are designed to be tough still. Double walled cardboard boxes are made from two layers of rigid corrugated fluting with a tough puncture resistant Kraft outer lining. This means that the double wall cardboard box retains its shape during shipping or storage and offers superior strength and durability over single wall cardboard boxes.

These sturdy boxes are suitable for a wide range of products from glassware, household fixtures and fittings to small electrical goods and can be stacked.

Triple wall cardboard boxes

Triple walled storage offers a really tough way to store and ship even the heaviest items

If you need a really strong storage and shipping box, triple wall cardboard boxes have you covered. Manufactured from top quality rigid flute corrugated board with a 200gsm Kraft paper finish, these are ideal for heavy duty items such as metal parts, compressors, boilers, pumps, industrial tools and machinery. Recommended for shipping and exporting.

In fact, these boxes has been especially designed for metal parts, compressors, boilers, pumps, industrial tools and machinery our heavy duty triple wall boxes with a weight capacity of up to 500kg also come flat-packed for easy, space saving storage in your warehouse.

Conclusions

The debate over whether cardboard or plastic makes for a better storage box is not really a debate at all: it all depends on what you want to store, ship or archive. For heavy duty, long term storage, or to store things that are in repeat use, plastic storage boxes have the edge as their higher price delivers more value over time.

However, for one off shipping cardboard has the edge. With cardboard storage boxes coming in a variety of sizes and thicknesses, they offer the ability to ship and protect anything from a book right up to a compressor. The only thing that ‘weakens’ the case for cardboard is that it isn’t waterproof like plastic.

That said, which you want to use comes down to what you are packaging and what you want to do with it. There is a vast array of solutions to choose from – and we can help you choose.

Want to know more about the wide range of cardboard and plastic storage boxes?

For additional advice on storage boxes in all their myriad shapes, sizes and materials to meet all your packaging, storage and shipping 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.

 

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.