Tag Archives: Eco-friendly

Everything you need to know about eco-mailing bags

Eco-mailing bags are the green way to store, post and ship items from documents to jewellery to electricals to books and more. Available in a range of dimensions and materials, whatever your mailing needs, there is an eco-friendly way to do it.

Here we take a look at what eco-mailing bags are, which ones are best for which applications and how to use them.

Everything you need to know about eco-mailing bags

Sustainable choices

Eco-mailing bags – mailings bags that are at the forefront of the consumer shift to ecommerce – we’ll run through what you need to know, as a business, about eco-mailing bags to meet this demand.

With sustainability increasingly topping the list of consumer priorities when choosing brands to shop with, and with more people having what they bought delivered to them, choosing to send goods in recycled or recyclable packaging should be every retailer’s responsibility and aim.

Alongside eco-mailing bags you might want to also consider other postal products that may have similar uses but are different in format and benefits. A Kraft postal box, postal tube, an eco-mailing box, but also recycled plastic mailings bags, as well as padded envelopes and paper mailing bags.

As ever, choosing the right eco-mailing bag depends on what you are sending: electrical items, gadgets and jewellery for example need to be protected, so recycled and recyclable bubble wrap and bubble wrap lined mailing bags and packages are ideal.

While the choice is wide-ranging, there are different solutions for different packaging and delivery needs, each with their own merits. Let’s take a look at what the best options available.

Are paper mailing bags as reliable as plastic ones?

The big question is are paper mailing bags as reliable as plastic ones – both in terms of their green credentials and their efficacy as a packaging solutions. Eco-friendly mailing bags can be either plastic or paper, with each offering different benefits for the job in hand.Cardboard envelopes and mailers

Non-plastic mailing bags are typically made of card and paper and are ideal for storing and mailing documents. Made from a combination of stiff cardboard and thick kraft paper, these envelopes and small packages are widely used for all manner of smaller, flatter items that need some protection from dust and dirt and which also have to remain stiff and unbending.

These non-plastic mailers come in a range of sizes and can handle differing thicknesses up to about 80mm, where they teeter between being an envelope and a fully-fledged cardboard mini-box.

Maxi, brown, panel wrap cardboard mailers

The move to ecommerce has also seen the development of Ecommerce Kraft paper mailing bags, which offer much of the benefits of plastic mailing bags, but in sturdy kraft paper, making them more eco-friendly and filling a gap in the market for a envelope-cum-card packaging solution for smaller items.

As to which is best? Well, it does all depend on what you want to ship or store. Cardboard is simple and easily composted and recycled if it is pure of plastic linings and labels, but isn’t so good for protecting from moisture.

Kraft paper mailing bags are an ideal eco-friendly optionPlastic mailing bags are sturdy and waterproof, but can lack the rigidity of some of the thicker cardboard mailing bags.

A combination of the two – mailing bags lined with either shredded paper or recycled polyethylene bubble wrap – can offer a way to achieve both aims, but are harder to recycle as the two sets of material have to be separated.

All in all, the choice depends on what is being mailed, but all types offer a great degree of eco-friendliness.

What are biodegradable mailing bags and how do they work?

Biodegradable mailing bags are mailing bags that will, when composted or landfilled, simple rot down and feed the worms.

Biodegradable postage bags are typically made from materials that will degrade when put in the ground. They are made from paper fibre-based products such as cardboard and kraft paper and are strong and sturdy, yet can be easily composted.

The card and kraft paper also offers great protection from dust and dirt, as well as being strong enough to handle impacts and being dropped and are also often sturdy enough to be reused prior to being discarded, adding to their environmental credentials.

Such compostable mailing bags also come in a range of exciting colours, shapes and sizes. While durable kraft lined padded envelopes lead the way in biodegradable packaging – filled with paper fibre in a kraft lining, all of which can be composted – there are also many other packaging solutions that are cool to look at and biodegradable.

Cardboard postal tubes – in brown, white or black – are ideal for items that need extra protection, but are also highly reusable, compostable and biodegradable, while triangular tubes suited to giving extra protection to a range of delicate items are also made from biodegradable card.

For more standard sized shipments, letters, books, documents and more, self-adhesive envelopes and mailing bags are available that can be sealed shut. These self-adhesive strips are also biodegradable, so even these types of packaging can also be composed with after initial usage.

Recycling and packaging

To address these packages – and to tag anything else for that matter – why not use eco-friendly labels that are biodegradable? Available in a range of sizes and shapes, these have eco-friendly adhesive and are marked up with the green recycling symbol.

Polyethylene mailing bags, while recyclable, are not biodegradable and are best used where they are more likely to be added to the recycling pile rather than anywhere where they may be landfilled or composted.

What are the best recyclable mailing bags?

The best recyclable mailing bags are those that are made from paper and card, but those that are made from polyethylene can also be recycled.

Eco-postage bags that are made of card and lined with pure polyethylene bubble wrap can be recycled, so long as the bubble wrap and the card outer can be separated and put in their respective recycling bins.

Recycled polyethylene mailing bags are versatile and moisture-proofThese can be used for a wide variety of items and offer a great degree of protection from dust and dirt as well as the rough and tumble of being posted and/or couriered.

 

Pure polyethylene mailers make for ideal recyclable postage bags too as they can simple be recycled in the single use plastic channels, where they are taken away, shredded, melted down and turned into new bags.

These bags can’t easily be composted, but so long as they are put into the correct recycling channel, they can be readily recycled for reuse, making them ideal mailing bag options.

Available in a range of sizes, these bags are ideal for a range of goods including clothing, some non-fragile electricals such as charging cables and much more.

The best mailing bags that have been recycled

The best mailing bags that have been recycled are those that are made from recycled polyethylene and polyethylene bubble wrap.

These bags have been created from pre-used material – often bags that have been used already that have then been shredded, melted down and reformed – and mean that if you need to use a plastic mailing bag, you can make sure that it is one that is eco-friendly.

There are other eco-responsible packaging solutions made from recycled materials that include lay-flat tubing to wrap items. Together with recycled shrink wrap and eco-friendly tape, the options for keeping your packaging eco-responsible are wide.

Want to know more about our wide range of eco-mailing bags?

For additional advice on the best eco mailing bags, our Packaging Specialists 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.

Your recycling questions

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

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

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

Global Recycling Day 18th March 2020 >>

Read our most asked recycling questions on packaging

Are gift bags recyclable?

Can you recycle packing paper?

Can all paper bags be recycled?

Can you recycle plastic bags?

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

Women and Environment Action Programme

What are Partnership Products?

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

What is the Women and Environment Action Programme?

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


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

Read more>>


 

What is eco-responsible packaging?

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

Recycled packaging at RAJA

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

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

What is eco-responsible packaging?

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

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

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

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

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

What is sustainable packaging?

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

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

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

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

Is biodegradable packaging still strong?

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

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

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

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

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

Types of recyclable plastic packaging

Recyclable packaging at RAJA

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

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


How to recycle packaging materials

Find out how>>


Alternatives to bubble wrap

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

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

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

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

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

 

Gifting Etiquette: Exploring Brits’ Gift-Giving Habits

Gifts. What’s not to love, right? From birthdays and anniversaries to holidays and baby arrivals, we’ll find any excuse to slip a gift into a special occasion. It’s a tradition that has shone for so long, because while gifts may be material, their overarching message is one of love. Yet, in the age of the conscious consumer, do we still care about traditional gifts?

We surveyed 2,000 Brits to find out more about their gifting etiquette.

Are you someone that loves a special occasion, partly for the purpose of giving and/or receiving gifts? Or, are you someone that would be happy to see this tradition go?

For some, it’s the holy grail of special occasions. Picking out presents and choosing pretty gift boxes, complemented by cards that perfectly represent your nearest and dearest (perhaps with an in-joke or two!?). And of course, on the other side – being the recipient of said gifts.

For others however, these gifts are overrated. Perhaps you’d rather be surrounded by loved ones; lead a ‘greener’ lifestyle with less consumption; or make memories through experiences, rather than give or receive material things.

What’s your stance? It’s time to find out where we stand as a nation on ‘gift-iquette’ in Britain.

What gifts do we want as a nation?

Receiving gifts

We asked Brits what types of gifts they most wanted to receive on a special occasion.

Turns out, cold hard cash was the gift recipients wanted to receive most. Over a quarter of Brits (26%) chose money over anything else. In expensive times with more costs to cover than ever before, are financial pressures causing us to pick the practical choice? Though this was a top pick to receive, it’s often an unpopular one to give – namely because deciding on an amount can be a delicate subject.

Lucky for gift-givers, then, that 74% (almost three quarters) of votes went towards ‘traditional’ gifts, with clothing, technology and beauty products the most popular choices. This means there’s a whole lot of people that still appreciate something picked specially for them, and presumably the act of opening something on their special day. If you’re struggling for

something to buy, take note: out of the above, women preferred to receive clothes (21%) and beauty products (12%), while men preferred to receive technology (23%) and clothes (19%).

We hear a lot of talk about the ‘experiential generation’ but not even 2 in 10 people chose an experiential gift. This could include the likes of a dinner date, a concert ticket or a flying lesson. Finally, only 5% of people chose a gift that goes towards a charitable cause – which, could be anything from donating to a charity on your behalf to sponsoring an endangered animal in your name. Only 13% of Brits wanted nothing at all.

The act of giving and receiving a ‘tangible’ gift still matters

Not only did we clarify that Brits still love a gift, but their gift preferences are still geared towards tangible items, too. Of those that had a preference, we found that 64% of Brits would prefer to receive a physical gift, versus only 17% of those that would opt for something digital.

Interestingly, 43% of Gen Z-ers and Millennials had no preference between a physical or a digital gift, showing they’re not so tied into traditions as the older generation. So, unsurprisingly, 9 in 10 Brits that are 45+ year-old said that they would actively prefer a physical gift over that of a digital one.

When it comes to ‘gift-iquette’, we also found that over a third (36%) of gift givers said they’d possibly feel guilty about not giving a tangible gift – but why?

Gift-giving

When we asked those that said they would feel this way, over half (53%) said it was because they viewed tangible gifts as more thoughtful and personal. This was followed by 37% who stated, “it’s important that the recipient has something tangible to unwrap”, and 28% who said they just do, “because it’s proper social etiquette”. Of course, almost 2 in 10 (18%) said they had to return the gesture when someone has gifted them something tangible, too.

Is a greener way of life changing our ‘gift-iquette’?

Almost 2 in 10 Brits said that they have considered the environmental impact of gifts prior to purchase and have chosen not to buy a gift because of this.

For most however, the perfect gift takes priority: almost half (47%) say that whether they’ve considered the environmental impact or not, this would not deter them from their chosen gifts for a friend, family member or other. This could include anything from a single-serving product to something with excess packaging, or anything that requires batteries that could corrode in our landfills.

This means that when it comes to the gifting process, 30% of us never think about the fact that our gift might be unwanted or wasted. Additionally, we never think about the environmental impact of making and sending greeting cards (38%), wrapping paper (32%) and product packaging (28%).

How to gift sustainably

Sustainable gifting

For those that want to follow traditional ‘gift-iquette’ while still taking steps towards a greener world – here are some handy tips to reduce your carbon footprint, without giving up the joy of gift-giving!

  • Wrapping: When you’re choosing wrapping paper, it’s the shiny ones that are often unrecyclable. This is the same for any paper with metallic, glitter or textured outers, so try to choose recyclable gift paper for wrapping presents.
  • Gift boxes: Many gift boxes are not recyclable due to the materials that they are made of. By having eco gift boxes and bags to hand, you can say no to excess gift packaging pushed by stores, and make sure the gifts you give are packaged in a greener way.
  • Sticky tape: If you want to go all-out green, pick up some eco-responsible tape. It’s made with natural rubber adhesives that can be recycled at the same time as your eco-wrapping paper and gift boxes.
  • Re-using gift bags and boxes: Each year, whether it’s for the holidays, birthdays or other occasions, we’re given a handful of gift bags, gift tags, wrapping paper and more that we can store away. What better way to stay green and save money, by keeping their life cycle going and regifting to someone else?

RAJA offer sustainable alternatives across an extensive range of wrapping and packaging, ensuring to incorporate eco-responsible practices at every step. Take a look at our range of gift boxes, which make for a great option for all your gifting needs.

The low down on recycling envelopes and mailing bags

RAJA envelopes and mailing bags

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

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

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

Can you recycle envelopes with windows?

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

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

Envelopes with windows

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

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

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

Can padded envelopes be recycled?

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

Bubble padded envelopes

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

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

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

Bubble envelopes

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

Padded envelopes

Jiffy bags

Padded envelopes with organic or paper material might be the answer

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

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

Can you recycle envelopes?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you recycle envelopes with glue?

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

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

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

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

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

Are plastic mailing bags recyclable?

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

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

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

Kraft mailing bags

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

The importance of eco-friendly packaging for online UK shoppers

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

The importance of eco-friendly packaging for online UK shoppers

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

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

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

94% of British adults say they care about the environment

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

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

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

The cost of eco-friendly packaging

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

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

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

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

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

What is eco-friendly packaging?

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

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

FSC certified packaging supplier

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

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

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

How to recycle gift packaging

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

Kraft paper gift packaging

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are gift bags recyclable?

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

Add coloured tissue paper to gift bags

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

Are gift boxes recyclable?

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

Jewellery gift boxes

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

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

Can gift wrap be recycled?

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

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

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

Can you recycle tissue paper?

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

Gift box with colourful tissue paper

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

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

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

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

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

The problem with plastic

Every bit of plastic ever made still exists - the problem with plasticOur reliance on plastic is at an all-time high, and a lot of the plastic we encounter on a daily basis is single-use. From drinks bottles, straws, stickers on fruit, our clothing and even tea bags, you might not realise it but it is all around us.

What’s the problem?

Plastic is very durable and does not biodegrade – which is what makes it a great material for making so many things. But, because it does not biodegrade it will remain in our environment forever.

Swimming in plastic: What's the harm?

Every year, up to 12.8 million metric tons of plastic ends up in our oceans.[i] It can take up to 500 years to decompose and, even then, it will still be present in our environment in the form of microplastics. Microplastics are an ever-growing problem; because of their small size they are difficult to clean up, and marine wildlife accidentally consumes them. In turn, fish and seafood that ends up on our dinner tables have been found to contain microplastics.[ii] This poses a danger to our health too as plastic absorbs contaminants from the surroundings which could pose a significant risk to our health.

What can we do?

On a more local scale, we can all make small changes to curb our plastic consumption. Buying a reusable cup for your morning coffee or saying no to a plastic straw in your drink might seem insignificant, but if everyone makes the effort it can make a difference.

What we can do to reduce plastic consumption

Globally, protective packaging materials make up almost half of all plastic waste. Our Eco Flo loose fill is completely biodegradable and is an easy swap which will help to curb your plastic consumption.

Find out exactly how long some of the most common plastics take to biodegrade, and the alternatives that are better for the environment in Swimming in Plastic: what’s the harm?

[i] https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/7/3/17514172/how-much-plastic-is-in-the-ocean-2018

[ii] http://www.fao.org/in-action/globefish/fishery-information/resource-detail/en/c/1046435/

Corrugated cardboard boxes 101: What you need to know

Cardboard is the one of the most popular packaging materials in use today, and the most well known is corrugated cardboard boxes, and we don’t expect that to change anytime soon.  It’s lightweight, strong and resilient, offering excellent protection for almost any item.  But did you know that it’s corrugated cardboard that gives boxes their strength?

Today we’re focusing on precisely that – the material that gives corrugated cardboard boxes their superior strength and resilience.  In this post we’ll be covering everything corrugate related, including how cardboard boxes are made, when corrugated cardboard was invented and how it works, as well as tips on recycling; how to shred, cut and dispose of corrugate.

Corrugated cardboard boxes - What you need to knowImage source: https://pixabay.com/en/cardboard-perspective-texture-467819

How is corrugated cardboard made?

First we’ll start with the basics – just what is corrugated cardboard?  Put simply, it’s the thick, strong arrangement of card that makes up the walls of a cardboard box.  It’s this combination of materials that gives cardboard their high strength and resistance to bumps, knocks and crushing.

The cardboard that makes it up is arranged in a concertina, zig-zag like like pattern which gives strength to both sides of the box. This is held in place and secured with a layer of paper on either side which is called the fluting.  Fixed in place firmly with strong adhesive, it can be made of different types of paper such as Kraft or Test, and it’s these outer layers that keeps the corrugate securely contained inside.  For more information about the inner liners and fluting, take a look at our beginner’s lesson in corrugate cardboard and cardboard in a recent post about cardboard box disposal.

How is corrugated cardboard madeImage source: https://pixabay.com/en/corrugated-cardboard-boxes-flutes-2225141/

So, exactly when was corrugated cardboard invented?  Its history goes back a long way – the earliest reports of it being patented were in England in 1856. Although it was not thought of as a packaging material at the time and was mainly used for other things such as hat lining!

The first recorded packaging and shipping patent for corrugate was in the United States and issued on December the 19th, 1871, where it was used for wrapping bottles and glass lantern chimneys.   In the years that followed it became a popular packaging material, with wooden crates and boxes replaced by corrugated paper shipping cartons from the early 1900s.

With the development of this resourceful material, cardboard boxes could be readily made for reliable shipping and storage, but how are cardboard boxes made?  The process begins by making the inner corrugated board – this is done by a large machine called a corrugator.  Board is fed into the corrugator, heated and pressed into the concertina form that we see above – this forms the central filling of the cardboard box wall.  Two outer liners, the fluting, are then fed through and securely glued to the corrugate using very strong adhesive.  Once the glue is set using steam, the flat complete board can be cut into large sheets of various sizes which are used to form the flat packed cardboard boxes that you receive from your packaging supplier. At RAJA we stock over 600 different sizes and types of cardboard boxes , so you can imagine the cutting and loading process can become quite complicated!

What is corrugated cardboard used for?

Corrugated cardboard can be used for various applications, the most common is to house items with the use of a corrugated cardboard box. But first, let’s understand just how does corrugated cardboard work?  This innovative construction features three separate materials and gets its super strength from the combination of all 3 working together.  In the centre, the concertina card is tightly but firmly packed within two layers of fluting and this gives strength across the width of the card to both sides of the material. It’s this concertina structure that makes the card super strong.

With many different types of cardboard box available, we often get asked which is the right one to use, and how thick is corrugated cardboard?  The great thing about how it’s made means that many different types and strengths can be produced.

Some use thinner, more lightweight materials with a single layer of corrugate for a light and strong box – these are called single wall boxes.  Others can use several layers of corrugate made from much thicker card.  For these boxes, the material can feel as strong as steel! Our ultimate strength triple wall boxes can support up to an impressive 500Kg in weight, all from a few layers of cardboard!

Corrugated cardboard 101 - Single double and triple wall boxes

We already know that corrugated board was patented for use as a shipping material in 1871, and this was for single side, single face corrugated board with one layer of paper on one layer of corrugate.  But who invented corrugated cardboard? The patent was registered in New York City by Albert Jones – you can actually see the first patent for corrugate as this is hosted online, along with the description and technical information registered – a fascinating piece of packaging history!

Why is corrugated cardboard so strong?

Corrugate cardboard is so strong because of it’s internal structure, and this contributes to the same reason why corrugated cardboard is a good insulator. The main strength of corrugate comes from it’s concertina like zig zag shape.  Being contained within fluting by strong adhesive, cardboard is strongest along the length of the material and it’s this structure that gives it strength to support both sides. And all between the fluting air is trapped and cannot move around, the layers prevent the air from escaping making it a poor head conductor.

Is corrugated cardboard recyclable?

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

As a packaging provider we must be mindful of how our packaging materials can be recycled  and in an environmentally responsible way. So, is corrugated cardboard biodegradable?

The good news is that yes, it is biodegradable. It will break down in the environment over time, though it can take a long time depending on the environment that it’s in.  If it’s wet and broken up into small pieces then it will degrade much faster, so if you have a compost bin at your home or business then cardboard can be a great addition to your compost.

Boxes can be quite large once broken down particularly if they’re pallet or export boxes.  If you don’t have a great deal of space to store them on site in between recycling collections, then you may wish to shred your cardboard.

If you want to know how to shred corrugated cardboard, it’s simple and straightforward.  You could use an automatic cardboard shredder which perforates and converts corrugated cardboard into a strong, shock absorbent netting material which can be used as packaging.  Alternatively, you can shred it manually by soaking it in water which makes it very easy to tear and cut through with normal scissors if it’s single or double wall.  For triple wall, you might need something a little stronger like a box cutter detailed below, or some industrial scissors that offer more strength.

Even though it does break down, it’s always our preference to recycle cardboard when you can – all our boxes are made from 75% recycled fibres on average.  Local recycling collections for paper and card are usually frequent and the recycling loop for corrugate is so efficient that used boxes can be recycled, remade and reused in just two weeks!  Cardboard recycles very well, without loss of strength or rigidity so it’s an excellent material to recycle.

Crushed corrugated cardboard boxes ready to be recycledImage source: https://unsplash.com/photos/1PxGp8kkQyk

Corrugated cardboard is also great to use for packing – placing in boxes to separate items to hold them securely in place.  The fact that it’s lightweight, easy to handle and cut means it’s perfect for many different uses.  If you’re wondering how to cut corrugated cardboard then don’t worry, it’s easy.  A small cutting knife, called a box cutter will do the job with ease and glide through corrugate easily.

Open a corrugated cardboard box with box cutters

What is non-corrugated cardboard?

Finally we’re looking at non-corrugated cardboard as an alternative.  Non-corrugated cardboard is exactly the opposite of corrugate as you would expect! In this material, cardboard is simply layered on top of each other, in the similar way to how puff pastry is made.  This can make the cardboard material smoother, so it’s good for printing striking visuals or designs onto.

It’s mainly used for lightweight products, presentation boxes and you may have encountered it in things like iPhone boxes or for other gadgets.  Generally, it’s not recommended to be used as a serious packaging material, though can be cheaper than corrugate due to its simpler and more lightweight construction.

If you’d like more information about corrugated cardboard, our range of cardboard boxes and packaging supplies, or help on selecting the right cardboard packaging for your business, get in touch with our team of packaging experts who will be happy to help. Simply visit www.rajapack.co.uk or contact our team on 0800 542 44 28, or sales@rajapack.co.uk.

New Product Launch: Potato Based Packaging Protection

Following Earth Over Shoot Day earlier this month, we’re continuing with our environmental theme to help you go green. Take a look at the AirWave Void Fill Pillow System, one of the most revolutionary and eco-friendly packaging machines we’ve seen. This environmentally friendly packaging product uses left over potato peelings to make void fill packaging that can easily be composted at home!  To find out more about this innovative product and what it could offer your packaging operation, read on.

The AirWave - Eco-friendly packaging made from potato
Capturing air to protect packages
 

Air cushion packaging is very effective void fill, with a range of machines and cushion sizes available.  Rather than using physical void fill material such as packing peanuts, Kraft paper or tissue, air pillows are lightweight (being 98% air and 2% cushion), small and easy to store and can be made up in seconds with the right equipment.  Not only that, the abundance of air makes the contents of the pillow filling very easy to source!  The use of plastic which all pillows are made from, has been the only environmental concern to date…that is until now.

Turning potato waste into protective packaging with the AirWave

You may already be using air cushions in your packaging operation with a Mini Pak’r or a similar machine.  Small, compact and highly efficient, these machines are only slightly larger than a standard laptop so even a small packaging operation could easily support them.  They quickly produce air cushions for filling space in parcels and cartons, preventing items moving during shipping and keeping the contents safe and secure.

Operationally, this efficient AirWave works in a similar way to other air cushion machines; quick, quiet and compact, it can produce enough cushions for four packing stations with up to 8 – 10 metres of cushion per minute – a lot of volume from such a small machine!  It’s able to produce both air filled cushions or quilts which are inflated and sealed in one smooth process through the machine, running at ≤60dB it keeps things nice and quiet.

Giving potatoes a new lease of life

Air pillows have been historically made from plastic which can be difficult to recycle depending on the facilities and services you have locally.  The AirWave is an industry first which uses a biocompostable biopolymer material as its air cushions – with no plastic in sight! The AirWave void fill biocompostable pillow film is 100% plastic free, meaning it’s naturally sourced material will fully break down in a normal compost environment.

Giving potatoes a new lease of life into protective packaging

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/doyland/4985322023/

The fun part is that these biopolymers are made from potato! They’re completely formed from natural potato peelings and other waste by products of the potato processing industry – it’s this source of material which means they are able to completely break down in the environment.

Potato peelings can be given a new lease of life once their work is done providing protection to parcels and products all around the world.  After they have been disposed of and made into compost, they can then be used to help grow new potatoes in the garden!

The science behind potato air pillows

AirWave pillows are household-biodegradable, meaning they can be disposed of in your normal compost that you’ll find in a residential property. No special disposal method is needed at all and they won’t have any negative impact on the quality of compost, making them ideal for home recycling. Finally, the pillows fully comply with standards for compostability (EN 13432) which means they’ll degrade by 90% physically within 12 weeks, and biologically within 6 months.

Eco-friendly protective packaging made from potato wasteSustainable packaging - Pototo waste can be made into protective packaging

Images sources: https://morguefile.com/p/1058151
https://www.flickr.com/photos/facilitybikeclub/3321732096/

We’re very impressed with the environmental innovation that AirWave has brought to the protective packaging industry, it perfectly aligns with our strong stance on environmental protection and helps our customers go green. For August we’re offering a discount of 10% off all orders of bio pillow film rolls, so hurry to take advantage of this limited time offer.

If you’d like more information about void fill packaging, air cushion machines or are interested in being one of the first to try out our new AirWave pillows on your packaging line, simply get in touch with our team of packaging machine experts who are on hand to help.  Visit www.rajapack.co.uk or contact our team on 0800 142 26 46, or machines@rajapack.co.uk.