Tag Archives: Recycling

How to properly dispose of pallets

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

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

So how do you do it?

How to dismantle a pallet

Pallets can be dismantled by pulling the individual wooden planks apart

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sawzall tool

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

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

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

Where to dispose of wooden pallets

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where to recycle pallets

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

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

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

Plastic pallets and heavy duty plastic pallets

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

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

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

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

Conclusions

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

Street bench in Naples, Italy, made from wooden pallets

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

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

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

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

Want to know more about pallets?

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

The low down on recycling 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.

Scrunch test

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 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.

How to Recycle Packaging Materials

Protective packaging is usually made from strong and resilient materials, so it can absorb knocks and bumps, but this can make it more difficult to dispose of and recycle packaging materials correctly.  In this post we’re focusing on how you can recycle and dispose of protective packaging correctly in a safe and eco-friendly way.  We’ll be focusing on bubble wrap, foam and paper packaging.

Protecting your products is at the heart of everything we do here at Rajapack, it’s what makes protective packaging one of our most important and popular ranges.  These items have been designed and constructed to offer ultimate protection during shipping and transport whether it’s in the form of rigid blocks, soft cushioning, water resistance or protection from electricity.

How to recycle packaging materials

Image source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-pile-of-ripped-carton-1055712/

Is bubble wrap recyclable?

As one of the most widely used packaging materials available, a common question we get asked from our customers is “can bubble wrap be recycled?” The good news is that yes, bubble wrap can be recycled.  Some local councils can collect it in along with other plastics in their normal recycling collection, including items such as milk cartons, drinks bottles and carrier bags.

Is bubble wrap recycable

Do check with your local council though to see if they accept bubble wrap, as not all are able to.  If they don’t then there’s sure to be a recycling site local to you which does accept bubble wrap.  Simply store it and you can take it along to your local recycling site for proper disposal.  It’s easy to find out about local recycling collections through the ‘Recycling Collections’ section of the government website, simply enter your postcode.

Can Bubble Wrap Envelopes be recycled?

Bubble wrap envelopes cannot be recycled. Bubble envelopes are made from a combination of polythene and paper, with cushioning air bubbles inside and a paper outer with soft surface that can easily be written on.  Because of the two different materials that they’re made from , bubble envelopes can’t be recycled whole and will have to be separated.

Can bubble envelopes be recycled

The paper outer and plastic inner are usually bonded together and can’t be processed together for recycling.  If you can separate the paper outer from the polythene inner, then the paper can be recycled along with standard paper and card, while the bubble wrap inner can be recycled with standard bubble wrap at a recycling site.  These are offered by local councils and you can find your closest by visiting the ‘Recycling Collections’ link above.

Is packaging foam recyclable?

Foam packaging is a protective product which offers great stability and cushioning, while being lightweight, easy to handle, cut and use.  It excels at protecting a wide range of products and parcels whether wrapping, blocking, bracing or cushioning.

Is packaging foam recyclable

Unfortunately, it’s not simple nor straightforward to recycle foam packaging.  The lightweight, low density properties which make it so good to use do however make it difficult to recycle easily.  In some areas options can be very limited, as not all recycling centres can handle or process this material – but there are some centres that do, so check in your local area to find out what options are available to you.

Our Packaging Specialists always get asked, how to dispose of foam packaging? Find out where your closet recycling site is that will accept polystyrene and foam packaging.  You can easily do this through the Recycling Locator on the Recycle now website. Select ‘Recycle a specific item’ then select Plastic packaging and Polystyrene in the ‘Which type of material’ menu.  If there isn’t a centre close to you, then consider re-use of foam packaging instead of disposing.  Because of the strength and reliance of foam it can be used time and time again to securely pack items so doesn’t need to be disposed of after just one use. 

Are foam packing peanuts recyclable?

One of the most popular loose fill packaging solutions and one you’ve no doubt encountered before, are packing peanuts.  These small but strong chips provide great protection while being incredibly lightweight.  But can foam packaging peanuts be recycled? Historically, they have been made from similar materials to standard foam packaging (polystyrene) making them difficult to recycle and dispose of in an eco-friendly way.

Are foam packing peanuts recyclable

Recently manufacturers of packing peanuts have developed more eco-friendly alternatives with the creation of biodegradable packing peanuts.  These break down naturally in the environment over time and can be made from renewable resources, lessening their impact on the environment and making them simple and straightforward to dispose of.

Can you recycle packing paper?

You can recycle paper packaging, it is one of our favourite protective materials.  It’s lightweight, easy to store and can be used for all manner of packaging applications, for packing, wrapping, protecting or presenting. It’s great for the environment too, with all paper packaging being fully recyclable.  From strong and resilient Kraft paper for packing and protecting items, crinkle cut shredded paper for soft cushioning and presentation, through to soft tissue paper for wrapping delicate and fragile items, there’s a suitable type of paper for almost any packaging need.

Can you recycle packing paper

Disposal of paper packing is simple and straightforward too. Many of the paper packaging that we sell is made from 100% recycled paper (the entire product is made from old paper products) and is fully recyclable, so it can be used time and time again and easily recycled along with your standard paper and cardboard collections.

If you’d like more information about the range of environmental protective packaging that we offer, any help or advice on recycling packaging materials or the best way to dispose of it, then 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, or sales@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?

How to dispose of your used cardboard boxes

With over 600 different sizes of cardboard boxes to choose from, we’re confident that we can supply a box to fit any size or shape of product. But once something has been successfully shipped the cardboard then must be properly disposed of.

Everyday at Rajapack we get asked questions about how to recycle cardboard boxes or how to recycle cardboard boxes at home.  These questions are so popular that we’ve decided to focus this post on exactly that, including useful info on where to recycle cardboard boxes.

How to dispose of your used cardboard boxes

Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/fyaTq-fIlro

 A beginner’s lesson in corrugate cardboard and cardboard

If you’re not familiar with cardboard boxes and what they’re made from then we’ve put together some brief info to get you up to speed.

Firstly, what does corrugate cardboard mean? This is the structure of the board and the combined inner layers of liner and fluting which gives boxes their rigidity and strength. All boxes we sell at Rajapack are made from corrugate cardboard.

The layers of liner in a box are usually made from test paper which is a lower grade of Kraft and Kraft paper which is made from virgin fibres and is a higher grade. These liners provide strength and support to the fluting which runs between them and can offer some resistance from water and the elements. The material used here means you can write or print on the box for easy identification.

Finally, what is fluting? Fluting is the word used to describe the wavey cardboard that is between the two liners.  It’s wavey shape gives strength to the liners that surround it and the direction and distance between the flutes can vary depending on the strength of the cardboard box. More waves means a box has more strength.

Can corrugated cardboard be recycled?

Corrugate board is one of the most popular types of cardboard we use, found in corrugated cardboard boxes and packaging where it offers excellent strength and resistance to knocks and bumps.  The inner layer of corrugate, sandwiched between two layers of Kraft paper, make it strong and resilient.

The big question we get asked is “Can you recycle corrugated cardboard?” Absolutely! The great thing about corrugated cardboard is that it can be completely recycled and used to make other cardboard boxes and cardboard products.  Recycling your used cardboard boxes saves the trees, energy and materials used in the manufacture of new boxes.

At Rajapack we have a range of eco-friendly packaging, including our boxes which are made from 75% recycled fibres on average, and the ‘recycling loop’ for corrugate is so efficient that used boxes can be recycled, remade and reused in just two weeks!

Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/qph7tJfcDys

So, our Sales team is frequently asked, where to take cardboard boxes to recycle them? Many councils now offer recycling boxes for homes (usually coloured green or blue) where you can place items such as paper, aluminium and cardboard including corrugated cardboard for regular collection.  There are also local recycling sites across the country which accept corrugated cardboard for free.

You can check your recycling collections and find local recycling sites in the ‘Recycling Collections’ section of the government website, an easy to use page where you only need to enter your postcode. Other sites such as the Recycling Locator on recyclenow also make it easy to find information on where you can recycle locally.

Is cardboard biodegradable?

If a material is biodegradable then it naturally breaks down and decomposes in the environment in a way that doesn’t harm it. Food waste, for example is highly biodegradable usually breaking down naturally and safely in a short amount of time.

Cardboard is a biodegradable material – corrugated cardboard will break down and decompose naturally, though it can take a long time depending on the environment that it’s in.

It breaks down quicker if it’s wet and broken up into small pieces, and so is great for home composting if you have a compost bin.  If you are disposing of it at home, then make sure to cut it into small squares and wet it through thoroughly. There’s lots of useful information online about how to prepare it for composting.

How to break down cardboard boxes

Once you’ve finished with a cardboard box, it’s quick and easy to break it down so that it can be properly stored, ready for recycling or prepared for compost.

The first thing to do is to remove all plastic or vinyl packaging tape from the box.  This will have been used to seal it shut, and usually runs along the top and bottom flaps to keep it secure. This should easily pull off and can be disposed along with your normal rubbish.

If paper tape has been used to seal the box then you can leave this on as it can be recycled along with the cardboard box. If you’re composting then it will biodegrade along with the cardboard, so it’s safe to leave on. It’s what makes paper tape more eco-friendly than vinyl or plastic tape.

Once the non-recyclable tape has been removed, then you can easily flatten the box out. Ensure the top and bottom flaps are straight (not at right angles to the box) and push the opposite corners together.  The box should close up and you should then have a flat box which is much easier to store or transport.  If you are recycling it, be sure to keep it in a dry place ready for collection as it can be very difficult to recycle and handle when wet.

Read How to Recycle Packaging Materials for more information on recycling packaging materials, and if you’d like more information about the range of cardboard boxes that we offer, any help or advice on purchasing packaging or the best way to dispose of it, then 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, or sales@rajapack.co.uk.

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.