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.

 

RAJA interviews René Pierre: the female inspired football table creator to celebrate women in sport

It’s not just Bill Gates who started a business venture from his home. René Pierre, a French football and billiards table manufacturer began his entrepreneurial journey from his garage.

Women in sport, football table with female figurines

Along with the RAJA Foundation and the Women and Environment Action Programme, RAJA is committed to supporting the achievements and independence of women. So, to celebrate FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 and women in sport, RAJAPACK UK has launched RAJACUP, a sports campaign that also offers our customer the chance to win a René Pierre football table.RAJACUP the Rajapack campaign to celebrate women in sport and FIFA Women's World Cup

This isn’t just any football table, it is crafted in France, and is designed by the manufacturer René Pierre. Sébastien Menneveaux, Key Account Manager at René Pierre takes us on a journey of Mr Pierre’s legacy.

Can you briefly introduce the company?

For nearly 70 years, René Pierre has been manufacturing football and billiard tables. It all started in 1952, when Mr Pierre built his very first football table, and now, René Pierre has retail stores throughout the world and employ approximately 50 people.

1953, the orginal René Pierre factory

 

Each year, more than 8,000 football tables and 2,500 billiard tables are shipped from the factory.

How did the René Pierre brand begin?

Mr Pierre was the son of a carpenter, and so naturally some of his father’s experience and knowledge influenced him and he became a woodcraftsman. He designed and built the first René Pierre football table from his own garage. After a busy year handcrafting and selling his football tables, in 1953, he built a small factory in Jura, France, to cope with the growing demand. This would be the home of the brand for a number of successful years.

In the 70s, a new and larger René Pierre factory was built

In the 1970s, a new and bigger factory of 8000 m² was built in Chalon-sur-Saône, France, which is where the factory still manufacturers the René Pierre football and billiard tables. The factory is currently under the watchful eye of Claude Pierre, current CEO and son of René Pierre.

Tell us about the first editions of the René Pierre football tables

The first productions of the football tables have become collector items, many customers contact us to restore their 1970s football tables, some tables have been purchased from an antique dealer or some have been passed on from generation to generation.

There is also a huge fashion trend of owning vintage and antique items, and we see a lot of our old posters that people have kept safe over the years as a memento – it’s retro and they can still be used as posters today.

Original René Pierre football table posters

Has the manufacturing process of a football table changed since 1952?

Yes and no. Even though we have invested in machines for cutting the wood, most of the football table production remains an intricate hand crafted skill.

Inside the René Pierre football table manufacturer

What type of customers order your football tables?

Today, almost all of our tables are purchased by individuals and communities such as schools, community centres and leisure centres.

We have experienced a recent phenomenon with start-up companies ordering our football tables for their break-out, games rooms or company waiting rooms.

What opportunities have sports events brought you?

Sporting events influence our business, it can inspire our designs and enable us to show our innovation and dynamism.

Do you design tables for particular sports events?

For every major football competition, we launch a limited edition range or special design models.

We also receive personal requests to custom make football tables to a particular design.

Let’s talk about FIFA Women’s World Cup, what made you decide to make a football table for this competition?

René Pierre football table inspired by FIFA Women's World Cup - Elles

As we tend to manufacturer football tables based on major football competitions this World Cup is no different, and especially as it is hosted in France, our home country. It represents women in sport around the world and promotes gender equality.

It was exciting to launch a football table called “Elles”.

What can we expect from you in the future?

I will quote from our company vision statement: to continue to provide our customers with enjoyable memories, while maintaining the qualities of a French manufacturer and the family values within the company!

Women in sport, football table designed with female figurines

To find out more of the company’s history, please visit René Pierre.

How does shrink wrap work?

Shrink wrap is one of the quickest and easiest ways to package and protect goods. What shrink wrap is used for typically is wrapping especially awkwardly shaped items – from individual packages to boxes on a pallet. It can even be used to wrap up helicopters. It is weather proof and dust proof, while the transparent option easily allows the goods underneath to be identified.Shrink wrap is so versatile it is even used to wrap up US Navy helicopters for transport (Image: Wikipedia)Shrink wrap is so versatile it is even used to wrap up US Navy helicopters for transport (Image: Wikipedia)

But what is shrink wrap made of, how does shrink wrap work and is shrink wrap recyclable? Here we answer these questions and find out how to use it on a practical level in the warehouse, using the right shrink wrap and shrink wrapping equipment to get the job done.

How does shrink wrap work?

Shrink wrap and what shrink wrap is used for covers everything from simple packaging, to holding items together, to protecting them.Shrink wrap collates and protects

How shrink wrap works is something that requires a look at the very molecules that the shrink wrap is made from. To make the plastic film that is used to shrink and wrap items, plastic polymer molecules  – long chains of carbon and hydrogen atoms, essentially  – that usually all tangle round each other are heated and stretched so that they all form into straight rows. Once cooled they maintain this aligned structure.

Heating the film again, once wrapped around the goods being packaged, the molecules move about (thanks to all that lovely heat energy being pumped in) and they get all tangled again: making the film as much as 50% smaller.

The shrinking can take place in one direction (uni or monodirectional) or in both length and width (bidirectional) and requires the film to be applied over the goods using a special frame – called a tenter frame – and applying heat correctly. To do it correctly requires the right shrink wrap equipment.

What is shrink wrap?

Shrink wrap is a plastic film that can be stretched over awkwardly shaped items and heated to shrink to tightly fit its contours and crevices as if stuck to it – all without any kind of adhesive.

Shrink wrap pallet covers, film and rolls

This protective packaging comes in sheets and on rolls

So, when was shrink wrap invented? The process of heating and stretching polythene sheets and cooling them and then reversing the process was first trialled in the US as a potential packaging process in the 1960s. It was then refined and had its first commercial use in 1981 in the US.

As to who invented shrink wrap, its provenance is murky. It is claimed that the process was actually invented in the 1960’s at WR Grace and company, by Robert D. Lowry, John Dreyfuss and John W. Harrison of Winchester Massachusetts in the US. The process was then refined and rolled out for industrial use by Global Wrap LLC in the US in 1981.

What is shrink wrap made of?

The molecular structure of Polyethylene, Image: Wikipedia

The molecular structure of Polyethylene (Image: Wikipedia)

Shrink wrap is made of plastic. What type of plastic is shrink wrap made from depends on how it is to be used, but typically it is made from plastic polymer – usually low density polythene or, sometimes, PVC. It can also be made from biaxially orientated polypropylene, a more complex version of polythene. What they all have in common is that they are made of long chain molecules that, in their natural state, tangle round each other like spaghetti.

The molecular structure of Syndiotactic polypropene (Image: Wikipedia)

The molecular structure of Syndiotactic polypropene (Image: Wikipedia)

How to use shrink wrap

Shrink wrap can be used to cover all sorts of things. To use shrink wrap, you need the right plastic shrink wrap film and the right equipment: usually at the very least a heat gun. You may also need a frame to hold the film.

Perforated shrink wrap pallet covers available on a roll

When shrink wrapping pallets of goods, individual shrink wrap pallet covers are available if you want to cover standard sized pallets of goods – available as sheets and on rolls. For more awkward shapes, this protective packaging comes in rolls and sheets, which can then be wrapped or put over the goods and then heated, often with a hand-held heat gun.

How to heat shrink wrap

So, how does heat shrink wrap work? As we have seen, heating pre-stretched polymer sheets allows the ordered molecules to move about and re-order themselves as a tangle of molecules, occupying a much smaller volume and causing the sheet to shrink.

In practice, this means that putting, say, a shrink wrap pallet cover over a pallet, and heating it the cover will start to contract and pull tight over the goods.

How to use heat shrink wrap involves the following steps:

  • place goods on the pallet and loosely cover with a shrink wrap pallet cover
  • make sure it covers everything
  • gently heat with a heat gun evenly, moving round and round the pallet to ensure even shrinkage
  • when tight, stop and allow to cool.

Heat guns are relatively light and portable but must be handled with care

How to use a heat gun for shrink wrap is perhaps the hardest part of the process. It needs a specialist gun, which burns propane or butane to create a hot flame.

RIPACK 3000 heat shrink film gun kit

However, it is crucial that the flame doesn’t contact the film nor the goods being wrapped. For this reason, the flame heats a plate at the business end of the heat gun which radiates heat onto the plastic.

Carefully heat the shrink wrap from a distance to avoid damaging the film

How to recycle shrink wrap

With more attention than ever on the impact of plastic on the environment, many ask can shrink wrap be recycled? So is shrink wrap recyclable: in short it is. Being made of low density polyethylene – or polythene – means that the answer to is plastic shrink wrap recyclable is yes. Polythene is widely recycled and can be put into the recycling waste and reused.

To recycle it, simply keep it once you have removed it and either put it in the standard recycling or, if you find you have a lot of it, there are companies that will come and collect it and take it away to recycle. They will shred it and melt it down to make polythene beads which may very well end up being used to make new shrink wrap.

Want to know more about shrink wrap and shrink wrapping equipment?

For all your packaging advice, our Packaging Experts are here to help you find the right solutions. Simply call us on 0800 542 44 28 or visit www.rajapack.co.uk.

Game of Boxes

Game of boxes

Do you agree with who’s on the Iron Throne? Well, the Game of Thrones finale might not be how you wanted it to end, but the wheel is now broken welcoming a new age in Westeros.

We have to confess, some of us at Rajapack were also hooked on the exciting plot created by George RR Martin, and writers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss. We have not thought of a better way to honour it than to relive the most iconic elements with a line of packaging products that has inspired us.

Here’s your special GoT edition using our packaging range. What will be the first product you will buy for your business, your shop or your online store?

Postal tubes for Valyrian steel swordsPostal tubes for Valyrian steel swords

The Rajapack cardboard postal tubes are so strong that they can hold even the most fearsome steel swords, the only ones with which it is possible to kill the White Walkers.

These postal tubes are perfect for GoT swords such as Garra, by Jon Nieve; Guardajuramentos and Lamento de Viuda, departures from the foundry of the mythical Ice of Eddard Stark; or Poison of Heart, property of Tarly House. Even though it is not a valyrio steel weapon, we have remembered the lethal needle of Arya Stark.

Labels of hazardous materials for wild fireLabels of hazardous materials for wild fire

Wild fire is a highly flammable substance that must be handled with great care. Even though at Rajapack we do not condone ‘blowing things up’, in GoT they could do with some packaging and shipping labels, particularly hazard labels, to correctly label packages that contain it (or that contain other dangerous substances).

Book boxes for the treasures within the Citadel libraryBook boxes for the treasures within the Citadel library

In the Citadel library, all the knowledge stored by humanity over the centuries is kept safe. Each book is a real gem, and must be handled with great care so that their treasured history can live on.

Each book must be worshipped and preserved, at Rajapack we have book boxes designed for such GoT items, available in different sizes for the varied editions and volumes, complete with a magical feature; an adhesive strip that seals the box to close.

Paper and pens to ‘manage’ Arya Stark’s listPaper and pens to 'manage' Arya Stark's list

Although Arya Stark has a very good memory, we suspect that it would not hurt to have quality office supplies to write down and cross out names on her list. For this reason, the Rajapack range includes pens and notebooks that you can carry with you at all times. Reliable equipment that would be worthy to accompany Arya in her adventures.

Padded envelopes to protect messages from RavensPadded envelopes to protect messages from crows

In the Seven Kingdoms, no email or telephone exist… but there are some very reliable messengers; the raven, carriers of all kinds of news and trained to travel the distances at a supersonic speed.

So, to ensure the parchments carried by these ravens arrive in perfect condition, it would be advisable to introduce maesters to bubble envelopes. Envelopes lined with protective air filled bubbles, they are ideal for wrapping items, even the most delicate small pieces including jewels to a loved one.

So this concludes our Game of Thrones adventure, but why not journey on to Rajapack for your packaging supplies. And we have a team of Packaging Specialists available that you can call, contact us on 0800 542 44 28 or email sales@rajapack.co.uk for help and advice.

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

Traditional vs electronic greetings card

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

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

What’s the case for the traditional greeting card?

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

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

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

How do we communicate in the digital age?

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

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

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

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

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

Where does it leave our traditional well-wishes?

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

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

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

 

 

Storage solutions

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

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

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

What is a storage container?

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

Storage bins come in all shapes, sizes and materials

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

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

How to label storage bins

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are storage containers made of?

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Poliboard stackable plastic storage containers

How big is a storage container?

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

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

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

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

Perforated Euro plastic stacking containers

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

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

How much does a storage container weigh?

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

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

How wide is a storage container?

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

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

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

Louvre storage bins

Are plastic storage bins recyclable?

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

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

Want to know more about storage containers?

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

How to properly dispose of pallets

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

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

So how do you do it?

How to dismantle a pallet

Pallets can be dismantled by pulling the individual wooden planks apart

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sawzall tool

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

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

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

Where to dispose of wooden pallets

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where to recycle pallets

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

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

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

Plastic pallets and heavy duty plastic pallets

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

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

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

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

Conclusions

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

Street bench in Naples, Italy, made from wooden pallets

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

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

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

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

Want to know more about pallets?

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

The WrapPak ® Protector, a paper packaging solution

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

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

Box lining

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

WrapPak Protector paper packaging for box lining

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wrapping products

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

WrapPak Protector paper packaging for wrapping products

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thermal insulation

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

WrapPak Protector paper packaging for thermal insulation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Block and bracing

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

WrapPak Protector paper packaging for block and bracing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

4 easy ways to reduce your plastic consumption

Every bit of plastic ever made still exists

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

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

Plastic items

1.      Switch to paper straws

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

2.      Grab a reusable cup to-go

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

3.      Read up on your recyclables

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

4.      Be picky about packaging

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

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

RAJA packaging, optimise your packing speed

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

The 3 stages of packing, with RAJA

1.     Choose the right packaging materials

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

Swap your boxes for envelopes and mailing bags

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

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

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

Kraft mailing bags at RAJA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Crashlock packaging cardboard boxes at RAJA

2.      Protect effectively, less is more

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

Perforated protective packaging

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

Perforated bubble wrap at RAJA

The bubble bag with an adhesive strip

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

Bubble bag with adhesive strip, at RAJA

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

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

Best practices of bespoke packaging

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

3.      Seal your parcels quickly and correctly

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

Can you seal a parcel without using packaging tape?

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

How to benefit from gummed paper tape

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

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

4.      Have a dedicated packaging area

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

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

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