Tag Archives: ecommerce packaging

Posting parcels to your customers

Posting parcels to your customers

For shipping and deliveries within the UK or internationally, businesses can either use the Royal Mail or a courier to send their postal boxes, pallet loads or even items in small mailing bags – if they do not have their own dedicated fleet. For small businesses it is convenient to ‘pop it in the post’, or for larger businesses to arrange shipping and deliveries with couriers.

Unfortunately accidents can happen, if any damages occur during transit it’s likely that the retailer can be found accountable – despite it necessarily not being their fault. It might also mean retailers may have to incur the costs associated with the order.

As far as the customer is concerned, they placed an order from your business and they received a damaged product, regardless of it leaving your warehouse on time, and in tip top condition.

A happy online shopper is one that has received their delivery in the post, and of course, as expected. We are captivated by videos and pictures of unboxing or when a parcel is perfectly packed – who wouldn’t want to share their latest purchase.
Posting parcels to your customers - a happy online shopper

However, if a delivery is delayed or if the parcel is received in poor condition, this would probably result in a very unhappy shopper. And this customer is likely to share their disappointment on social media with a sad or angry Emoji, instead of a smiley cheery face.

In such a competitve market, customers are spoilt for choice and are not afraid to return their orders and look elsewhere.

Whether you have your own fleet of delivery vans, or not, here are some pointers to help you improve the efficiencies of your delivery and to help ensure a happy customer.

#1 Deliver directly to letterboxes

When the size, weight or value of goods permit, use envelopes and mailing bags or postal boxes that can fit through post boxes or letter boxes.  Online retailers can improve efficiency by using letter-box design available packaging suited to products, but also, to reduce costs. This also decreases the number of touchpoints that could go wrong before it safely reaches the customer’s hands.

Benefits to the customer:

  • No missed delivery and redelivery needing scheduled
  • No parcels left in unsecure places or left outside and subjected to adverse weather conditions affected by the weather
  • No misshaped or unpresentable parcels from oversized packaging

Benefits for the retailer:

  • No additional postal costs from using packaging too large for the size of the product
  • No unnecessary or additional void fill needed to protect the product
  • No admin time rescheduling deliveries and drivers redelivering parcels
  • No storage space needed to hold the redeliveries

Royal Mail letter, parcel and postal tubes sizes

Source: Royal Mail

The European standard EN 13724:2002 standardises the size of letter boxes across Europe, this ensures all post within the set dimensions can be successfully posted through customers’ doors. Unfortunately, the UK did not adopt this regulation1 meaning letter box dimensions do slightly vary. Despite this, to increase the deliverability a business must adhere to the strict postal size and weight restrictions letters and parcels from the Royal Mail and the UK standard delivery information from the Post Office, and also, make sure the efficiency and the quality of the packaging is the most suited.

#2 Efficient and quality packaging

You won’t have as much control over the journey and conditions of your deliveries if you use a delivery company. To help the success of your deliveries, some steps can be taken such as understanding how to use packaging labels and hazard labels, informing the carrier how the parcel should be handled or even making sure the parcels are sealed correctly by knowing how to use packaging tape. Even if your business has its own delivery vehicles – you can still benefit by making sure the most effective and appropriate packaging is used.

Efficient and quality packaging

  1. To reduce packaging costs: Insert your measurements into our box finder or bag finder, and the right sized cardboard box or bag will be displayed. Meaning, products will not shift in packaging that’s too big, no extra void fill needed to fill spaces, or damages from the loose-fitting packaging – which will also make the parcel look unpresentable.
  2. Innovative packaging materials: Simplify packing with multi-purpose and versatile packaging materials. Packaging with integrated protection, such as mailing bags with adhesive strips (no tape is required), foam postal boxes, with protective inner foam lining or book boxes, will completely wrap around securing the products.
  3. Custom-made and bespoke packaging: Designed to fit specific products so packaging dimensions can be maximised. Bespoke packaging also reduces the need for additional packaging, as with most bespoke packaging the protection is included into the design – preventing contact with the main outside packaging layer and the product itself.

For advice on your packaging operation, contact our Packaging Specialists on 0800 542 44 28, or email sales@rajapack.co.uk.

1 https://www.safe.co.uk/safezone/2011/09/the-european-standard-for-letter-boxes/

What is volumetric weight and how does this affect your logistics packaging costs?

This easy to read guide will help you understand what volumetric weight is, and the effect this has on businesses. If your business operates on volumetric weight (otherwise known as dimensional weight or DIM) it can help to reduce your transport and logistics costs. Reducing transportation costs is one of the key challenges for most companies, whether you’re a small-scale ecommerce packaging boutique with a small parcel cost to a large distribution company shipping boxes with heavy duty goods.Volumetric weight used by delivery companies

So, what is volumetric weight?

Volumetric weight is a method to calculate the chargeable weight of a package, using volume rather than gross weight. It takes into account the total space used by the package in the delivery vehicle and not just the weight of the package.

Essentially, the method of calculating the dimensional weight is more commercial for delivery companies.

If packages were only measured by weight, the cost to ship less dense, lightweight packages would be low, and the cost to ship dense, heavy items would be high. However, there is no relation between its size and density.

Dimensional weight is otherwise known as the DIM factor

Pricing based on dimensional weight balances out the shipping cost issues of large bulky packages that are lightweight. It is unprofitable to ship when the cubic space taken up is higher in relation to the weight. It allows carriers to also represent the density, by using the dimensional weight (DIM factor) which could vary between 5000 – 7000. The DIM factor is divided by the length, width and height of the package to calculate the unique weight, shape and size.

This method is also applied to heavy but small packages. However the carrier will instead charge per kilogram, whichever is greater; the gross weight or the volumetric weight of the package.

The volumetric weight of a package is calculated by the following formula:

L x W x H  / (DIM factor)

DIM factor = 5000 (in cms) or 305 (in inches)

Say you want to send a lightweight package with the dimensions of 50 x 30 x 30cm, which weighs only 3kg, using the common DIM factor of 5000 (for centimetres or DIM factor 305 for inches). The volumetric weight is 9 kg, and so it will be charged on this basis.

And conversely, if you send a heavy package with the dimensions of 30 x 30 x 20cm which weighs 10kg, divide by common DIM factor 5000. The volumetric weight is 5.4kg, which is lower that the gross weight, so this package will be charged on the gross weight.

Volumtretic weight formula

How can volumetric weight measure costs?

Volumetric weight is a measurement of cost for the delivery company. The mileage the delivery vehicle covers is a cost factor, travelling nationally and internationally, but the size of the vehicle which determines its weight allowance will affect how many parcels it can hold. The more parcels the delivery vehicle can carry, the more economical it is for the carrier, as the cost per journey is reduced.

In principal, the method to calculate the shipping and delivery cost is:

  • If your package is light and big, it will be charged on its volumetric weight.
  • If your package is heavy and small, it will be charged on its gross weight.

So, when packing, it is important to consider both the weight and size of your package to reduce the cost of transporting goods.

Dimensional weight used by delivery companies

Which industries are affected by volumetric weight?

Technically, volumetric weight will apply to all industries. The pricing technique is based on the package needing to transport, and the space it takes up in the freight carrier whether it is transported by a ship, lorry, or plane.

Also if your business provides a free shipping and returns service – keep in mind the same pricing method would be applied. So, if the returns their order you could be making a loss.

For further advice on reducing transportation costs, contact our Packaging Specialists on 0800 542 44 28 or sales@rajapack.co.uk to discuss your product range and your packing operation.


Top tips! 3 tips to optimising the volumetric weight of your packages. Read more>>


 

3 tips to optimising your volumetric weight

When budgeting for your transport and logistics costs, do you calculate your delivery costs using volumetric weight?

Many factors influence transportation costs, such as fluctuating petrol and diesel prices, and the transportation mileage. Budgeting to the volumetric weight of packages can help businesses control logistical costs. But frst, you need understand the fundamentals of this pricing method and apply the optimisation techniques.

Before we move on to the cost saving tips, if you are not familiar with volumetric weight, we recommend that you read: “What is volumetric weight and how does this affect your logistics packaging costs?”. So that you can fully understand how to optimise your delivery costs.


Find out what volumetric weight is and how this affects your logistics packaging costs. Read more>>


Tip 1. Reducing packaging dimensions

Tip 2. Plan for the delivery times you need

Tip 3. Choose the right delivery company

Tip 1. Reducing packaging dimensions

Reducing your packaging dimensions reduces your shipping costs. This all starts with knowing your products, inside and out; review your range by measuring the size and weight. Then, applying the product measurements, carry out an audit of your existing packaging to measure its suitability. To reduce your packaging dimensions, your audit should consider what the protection qualities are, and how they house your products.

The right sized packaging reduces excess space and void fill used. Reducing the volumetric weight also reduces shipping costs, whilst increasing the protection levels with the appropriate packaged being used.

Having effective packaging materials suited to your product range and knowing how to pack your products for shipping are both key. Discuss your process with a Packaging Specialist to find out if you’ve got the right packaging materials and that they are applied in the most efficient way. You can also further optimise by choosing bespoke packaging, personalised packaging fit for purpose.

Once you have identified the most efficient packaging for your products, you can make further savings by buying in bulk. Wholesale prices will make further cost savings.


Contact a Packaging Specialist on 0800 542 44 28 or sales@rajapack.co.uk for free advice


Once your packages are ready for shipment, cross-analyse the dispatch frequency with the products sent. This will help to categorise your shipments by weight, and which band tariffs are most invoiced for. Co-ordinate your consignments in a pricing table to identify which products have the higher shipment frequencies. This can provide further cost-savings when scheduling the deliveries. Once you have a complete list, you can then enquire the rates and frequencies with your delivery provider.

Reduce your volumetric weight so less space is used in the delivery vehicle

Tip 2. Plan for the delivery times you need

The delivery times can determine the mode of transport; by road, air or sea. For express deliveries needing to get to its destination quicker, these packages are given priority, so the postage costs are generally higher.

If you offer a free delivery service to your customers, have you researched if an express delivery service is needed. Or can your customers wait an extra day or two for delivery?

For next day and quick deliveries, such as a just-in-time approach, it does depend on the industry and market in which your business operates. Although, we as consumers in this technological age, do expect things ‘now’. Services such as Deliveroo for the fast food industry, and Same-Day delivery service with Amazon, are perfect for customer that can’t wait. However, if given the choice or if your business set-up allows, a non-express delivery service could be better. Your operation would need to adjust for the longer lead times. The cost of delivery is considerably less for the longer delivery dates, and whether your company provides a free delivery service or not. This could not only save your business money when dispatching orders, but as a customer, placing an order too. So, if you provide a free delivery service, make sure to incorporate volumetric weight costs into the total order value.

So, for an optimal shipping method, adapt your business structure if possible to incorporate volumetric weight into your transportation costs; whether you’re a supplier or a customer.

Plan for the delivery times you need

Tip 3. Choose the right delivery company

Unfortunately not all carriers apply the same pricing method and there is no standardised regulation for delivery companies to do so. The method to determine its volumetric weight will be dependent on the business strategy of the delivery company, which will be optimised to its business model. (Although, many companies will operate on the DIM factor of 5000).

When enquiring about the delivery rates be sure to ask for the method of calculating the delivery costs. Secondly, ask for a tariff grid so you can see the pricing structures. This will help you easily compare the different services provided.

Compare the volumetric weight costs of UK delivery companies:

  • Calculate shipping costs with DHL
  • Calculate shipping costs DPD
  • Calculate shipping costs with Hermes
  • Calculate shipping costs with Parcel Force

For more information on developing your packing and packaging process, speak to our Packaging Specialist 0800 542 44 28 or sales@rajaapck.co.uk for help and advice.

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.

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/

The problem with plastic

Every bit of plastic ever made still existsOur 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/

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.

Earth Over Shoot Day, the Day Humanity Needs to Change

Earth Over Shoot Day and Rajapack

In 2017 the UK’s Earth Over Shoot Day fell on August 2nd, this year it will be 1st August. Our Ecological Footprint has moved forward by one day as we consume more of the Earth’s resources and services faster than it can be generated, the day that marks the over consumption is called Earth Over Shoot Day.

To help put the rate of consumption into a tangible perspective, last year we commissioned James Lake, a sculptor who works with the medium of cardboard, to depict humanity’s depletion of the Earth’s natural resources highlighting the seriousness of this environmental concern.

The Art of Recycling with Rajapack

Pictured: James Lake for The Art of Recycling

The Art of Recycling campaign highlights the change needed, the rate of consumption and the necessity to recycle and find more sustainable solutions to waste management. With James’ creativity and skill he is able to craft sculptures into something with a much greater value, all from a simple and unassuming item such as a low cost cardboard box and most importantly, from recyclable material.

In today’s society consumption and waste is higher than ever before. A perfect example is the growth of ecommerce and online shopping which has led to an increase of packaging used for parcels and the resulting waste created, and also the increase in petrol and diesel usage.  However, some changes can be made to help offset the damaging effects, such as electric or hybrid eco-friendly delivery vans or even cycle couriers, and online retailers choosing environmentally friendly packaging alternatives made from recycled materials.

Steps can be taken to #MoveTheDate, what will you do?

Corrugate and Plastic, Eco-friendly Packaging

EXPERT PACKAGING GUIDE

Welcome to the second post in our series of Expert Packaging Guides where we take a close look at eco-friendly packaging products and materials, and offer expert guidance on how to select the right packaging to keep your process efficient.

Following our piece on Bubble Vs. Foam, we’re moving the focus to two eco-friendly packaging materials; corrugated cardboard and plastic, their properties, suitability for use and impact on the environment.

Eco-friendly packaging from Rajapack

Image Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/MGaFENpDCsw

Packaging and disposal: a growing concern

In February we held our annual Supplier Day where eco-friendly ecommerce packaging and the disposal of plastic waste was a popular topic of discussion for suppliers, in response to customer feedback.

With the growth of the ecommerce industry we’ve seen a massive rise in demand for suitable packaging which is lightweight, low cost, strong and simple to use. With this growth comes increased waste, which is why we provide eco-friendly choices, to minimise any potential damage to the environment and maximise recycling.

Our recent ‘Art of Recycling’ campaign focused on recycling in an effort to communicate key messages about this important topic in a unique and captivating way. Combined with the popularity of the Blue Planet II series earlier this year, consumer concern has grown making this a very important subject for customers.

Ecommerce Packaging Materials: Corrugate and Plastic

When it comes to Ecommerce Packaging, these two materials are most commonly used by customers. They both offer very different properties as a packaging material, and offer different recycling and disposal options. We’re going to cover both in detail later in the article.

Corrugated & Cardboard Packaging

Corrugated cardboard is no doubt a material you’re familiar with, a strong cardboard box that’s one of the most common packaging materials in use today due to its excellent protection, handling and storage properties. Recently it has experienced price rises as demand has grown from ecommerce businesses, and this is expected to continue into 2019. In the US, demand has continued to outstrip supply as its popularity has continued to grow.

Corrugate is made up of a fluting surrounded by an outer and an inner liner, with another layer of fluting and liners used in double walled corrugate for extra strength. This gives it shockproof protection and crushing resistance due to its rigid properties, making it a great choice for postal boxes, in particular book, CD and media boxes.

Stored as flat packed boxes, it won’t take up much space in your warehouse and can easily be folded out and assembled when needed making it very space efficient. Widely available, corrugate across our ecommerce range is lightweight too, saving on delivery costs when ordering and posting to customers.

Corrugate is 100% recyclable, and has the highest recycling rates of any packaging in the UK. It can easily be recycled at most homes and businesses along with all paper and card. The recycling loop is widely recognised as used boxes can be recycled, remade and reused in just two weeks.

Martyn Clarke, Reedbut eco-friendly quote

Corrugate: The Expert Opinion

We caught up with Reedbut Group, manufacturer and designer of corrugated and cardboard packaging for over 40 years, Martyn Clarke, the Group Sales Director provided his views on this popular material:

Q: What changes have you seen in your industry to corrugated?

A: Our industry has undergone significant changes over the last 5 years as it is challenged to produce more environmentally friendly products. The need for a box to be able to be used on numerous occasions is beneficial for customers from both a cost and carbon footprint standpoint and having them made from already recycled materials adds to the environmental credibility of corrugate.

Q: How have the materials and products improved in use and cost?

A: Eco friendly recycled materials are becoming increasingly common in today’s market. The ability to offer the customer a box that is ‘fit for purpose’ using a recycled performance grade offers the ability to challenge historically used board grades and flute profiles. Potential cost savings are therefore achievable through both unit price reduction, larger pallet quantities and material availability.

Q: What do you see in the future for corrugate?

A: Sustainability is the latest buzz word in the industry and accreditation to FSC or other such governance is essential. Corrugate has a bright future due to the commitment and willingness to develop recycled products. This means that corrugated cases can be made from 100% recycled materials and be 100% recyclable with the aid of a completely closed loop recycling system. Very few direct alternatives to corrugated can offer this facility. We are in the process of developing our core range of performance boards as well as bringing a competitive edge and design focus into the largest growing sector of Ecommerce Packaging.

Plastic Packaging

Plastic has had a lot of publicity recently due to the large amount of waste found in some of the world’s beauty spots and its effect on the environment. The critics argue that this is mainly due to poor disposal rather than the properties of the material itself.

As a packaging material plastic is lighter and thinner than paper and card alternatives, resulting in reduced fuel consumption when transporting, reducing greenhouse gas emissions versus bulkier paper and card. Many plastics are now recyclable too, meaning they can be remade into future packaging efficiently, maintaining their excellent properties time and time again.
Plastic offers many benefits as a material; it’s weatherproof, tearproof and lightweight, with some offering puncture resistance as well as protection from extreme hot and cold temperatures. This level of protection can mean less spoiled parcels, reducing waste and returns.

Plastic is lighter and stronger than paper and card packaging, and plastics and polyurethane foams usually provide better protection for the least resource used, making them a sustainable option.

It’s a material that is seeing continual development in manufacturing and innovation too with increased uses of recycled plastic, more reuse, and a reduction in energy consumption during manufacturing as technology improves.

Ed Roberts, Sealed Air eco-friendly quote

Plastic: The Expert Opinion

We spoke to Sealed Air, a world leader in the manufacture and design of plastic packaging, Ed Roberts, the Sustainability Director gave his thoughts on plastic and its future:

“Given all the recent publicity, it is not surprising that people are looking at alternatives to plastic packaging, with paper and pulp as the most common considered. Sealed Air has a broad range of paper solutions so we understand the environmental benefits and limitations of both paper and plastic. Paper is usually considered to be environmentally friendly but you may be surprised to learn that it has its concerns.

According to the International Energy Agency, paper and pulp production in 2014 consumed 5.6% of the world’s industrial energy requirements. The IEA have also said that the paper and pulp industry must cut direct non-biomass CO2 emissions by 17% by 2025 from 2014 levels to meet the requirement of the Paris COP-21 agreement to limit global warming.

There will be many situations in which paper for void fill and/or cushioning will be perfectly adequate and sustainable. But even the most basic of mobile phones produces about 60 kilograms of greenhouse gas during its manufacture, non-paper solutions such as plastics and polyurethane foams can usually provide better protection with less resources used, being the most sustainable option.

Eliminating plastic would likely increase your material, warehousing and logistics costs, could increase damage rates and potentially be more detrimental to the environment.
The majority of Sealed Air products are already recyclable. We are continually innovating and collaborating with other organisations to develop the infrastructure and technologies required to make all plastics recyclable. As well, most Sealed Air products can be reused and many customers keep the packaging for future use. It is necessary to dispose of the material, polyethylene materials (such as Bubble Wrap™, Fill-Air® Air Bags and Cell-Aire®) can be put into the shopping bag recycling bins found at many supermarkets and recycling centres.

In Summary – Which Material is Right for You?

Making the right choice between which material is best for your needs is something that should be considered across a range of factors; what type of item you’re packaging, what protection it will need, where it will be stored, how it will be shipped, and what storage space you have are just a few things to think about.

Corrugated offers medium and heavyweight protection thanks to the properties of the material, which excels as protecting from shocks, knocks and crushing. Heavier than plastic, it can be slightly more expensive to ship but is straightforward to recycle, and most of what you can buy is 100% recycled already, so it won’t go to landfill and has an excellent recycling loop here in the UK.

Plastic offers excellent all-round protection in the form of puncture, tear and shock resistance. It’s more weatherproof than corrugated solutions too, meaning there’s little concern about moisture, damp, or hot and cold temperatures. Recycling for plastics isn’t generally as efficient as paper and card, though it’s lightweight properties mean less impact on the environment when transporting and delivering.

Some products combine the strengths of both materials and are still fully recyclable, such as padded paper mailing bags (a favourite of ours) so you can get the benefits of both while keeping things eco-friendly.

Joe Wille, Rajapack eco-friendly quote

Finally, we spoke to Joe Wille, Field Sales Manager here at Rajapack UK, to get his thoughts on making the choice between corrugate and plastic for ecommerce packaging.
“We’ve been seeing a fundamental shift away from plastic with customers looking for other packaging solutions. Being able to provide our customers with alternatives to traditional packaging methods, such as packaging machines that supply biodegradable packaging alternatives is an ongoing aim for us here at Rajapack. Going green shouldn’t cost your business more, and we’re here to make customers aware of the choices available, providing them the knowledge to make the right choice for their business.

Some customers are not necessarily looking for eco-friendly products but are drawn to what looks eco-friendly. Part of what we do is to educate buyers on what is eco-friendly and why it is, ensuring that the packaging they use will have a real, positive impact on the environment, moving customers to biodegradable options where possible.

The quality and integrity of our packaging is paramount across all our products. All suppliers are quality assessed before we work with them, and then on an on-going basis to ensure they meet our high standards. We also carry out a bi-annual on-site audit with each supplier at their premises.”

If you’d like further information on ecommerce packaging, or help choosing the right eco-friendly packaging for your business, simply get in touch with our team of packaging experts who are on hand to help. Simply visit www.rajapack.co.uk or contact our team on 0800 542 44 28.

Spotlight on: Envelopes and Mailing Bags

If you’re a regular visitor to the Rajapack blog then you’ll know that recently we’ve been focusing on new developments in packaging; product launches, the latest technology, and new packaging processes that are all making packaging more efficient and eco-friendly.

This week, we’ve decided to go back to basics with a focus on one of the oldest and widely used packaging items in history – Envelopes!

all-envelope-types

Enve-what?

One of the most common packaging items in the world, envelopes protect their contents in the post, ensuring they reach their recipient safely and securely.

Though envelopes can be dated back to around 3500BC, the first commercial envelope-making machine was not developed until 1845.  It was then another 50 years before pre-gummed envelopes were produced commercially.

Envelopes have continued to evolve over time as our needs have changed drastically – they now need to protect much more than just paper letters or documents! There are now hundreds of types of envelope available for all kinds of uses, offering benefits such as protection from water, bumps and shocks.

At Rajapack we stock over 30 different types of envelope, available in hundreds of sizes.  We’re going to run through the four main types below, what benefits they offer and what they should be used for.

Bubble Envelopes & Jiffy Bags

These padded envelopes offer the most cost-effective protection what’s inside.  They usually feature strong padding around the inside edges (layers of fibre, air filled protective bubbles or foam) for extra protection against damage in the post.

Any impact will be absorbed and cushioned by the thick outer layer, ensuring the contents stays safe and secure in transit. As padded envelopes have continued to evolve, they have become more lightweight, meaning a lower cost of postage, while maintaining a strong level of protection.

jiffy-and-bubble-envelopes

Jiffy bags are an envelope make that you’ve probably heard of before, being one of the most widely recognised brands of envelopes in the UK.  Named after the Jiffy Packaging Company who launched the product in 1964, they still manufacture them at the same site to this day.  They’ve been designed to be puncture resistant and come in two styles; the bubble bags contain air retention bubble wrap for longer protection, whilst the padded Jiffy bags have a lining of fibres that expand with use.

We find that padded envelopes and mailers are best when you need extra protection for your items in the post.  They are most commonly used for smaller products (an A4 envelope or less), but larger padded envelopes are available; heavy duty bubble envelopes go up to 52cm x 66cm in size, great for when you need to post large, flat items securely.

Bubble envelopes and Jiffy bags are suitable for packaging many different types of items, including jewellery, books and brochures, right through to items such as CDs, DVDs, and clothing.  Whether you choose Jiffy bags, bubble envelopes or padded mail bags, every one is designed to be lightweight to protect your products while keeping postage costs down.

Cardboard Envelopes & Mailers

These rigid envelopes are designed to ensure that the contents of your envelope won’t bend out of shape in the post.

card-backed-envelopes

The stiff cardboard construction forms a rigid frame around the envelope, offering a solid layer of protection for small, flat products.  And because they’re made of card, they’re generally very light and cost effective to mail (though be sure to check the size dimensions of the envelope).  These envelopes are ideal for packaging things like calendars and booklets, or important documents such as contracts or certificates.

For larger, thicker items such as books, brochures, CDs, or DVDs, carton envelopes (or panel wrap cardboard mailers) are perfect. They’re designed to fully enclose these thicker items, and are available with an adjustable spine, so you can put any thickness of book in them and they’ll seal securely.  To minimise postage costs, they’re exceptionally lightweight too – we currently offer the lightest cardboard mailers in Europe!

Plastic Mailing Bags

These items provide sealed protection for their contents and are very popular with online retailers and mail order companies.  Whilst being very thin, small and lightweight, they provide waterproof protection and are perfect for sensitive items as well as soft goods, such as textiles and clothing.

plastic mailers

Quick and easy to use, they all come with a tamper-poof peel and seal strip for security, ensuring that once they’ve been sealed they can’t be opened and resealed without ripping the bag.

Plastic mailing bags also present a unique option that other envelopes don’t – they are available completely see through!  For companies mailing catalogues or other documents that need an added layer of protection, clear mailing bags mean no extra effort required to re-print or re-label envelopes.

Plastic mailing bags can also double up as waterproof protection for other packages – easily fitting around a box, bag, or smaller envelope that need an added layer of polythene protection.

Office Envelopes

Finally, the most common type of envelope and probably the one you’ve used the most – the office envelope.   Made of paper and usually coloured white or manilla, these envelopes are used by almost every business, every day, for posting documents & letters.

office-envelopes

Office envelopes have size standards that have been adopted internationally under ISO 216, meaning that most countries use the same sizes of office envelopes.  A law on the standardisation of page sizes dates back to 1798 in France, making it easier for companies to do business internationally.

The sizes that are used are all scaled to each other, making use and manufacture easier internationally.  A C1 is twice the size of a C2, a C2 is twice the size of a C3 etc.  Here’s a full list of all the size dimensions – the most common type for businesses is DL size.

They’re available with a window in the front, meaning that your letters can slip straight in with the postal details on – no need to duplicate this on the envelope if the address is the letter itself.

Peel and seal or self seal options are available, both speeding up the process of sealing and sending.  Peel and seal typically have a longer shelf life as the gum is protected by a layer of paper.

Though there are standard sizes and colours, the quality of office envelopes can’t be guaranteed simply because they are so popular.  Usually coming pre-gummed, the thickness, quality of the paper, finish, and adhesive on the seal can all vary greatly.

Cheaper, thinner envelopes can suffer from print see-through, and no business wants their correspondence on show – especially when you’re sending private and confidential documents.  Ensure your envelopes don’t suffer from this oversight and insist on high quality envelopes to ensure you give your customers a great impression – they’ll be opening them after all!

Sealing Up

At Rajapack, envelopes continue to be one of our best selling products – we ship over 7 million a year to businesses of all types across the UK!

If you’re looking for envelopes for your items, if you currently have a supplier and are looking to cut costs, or are simply after some packaging advice, then please do get in touch; give us a call on 0800 542 44 28 or send us an email.  We have experienced packaging experts on hand, ready to help and advise you in any way they can.