As online shopping and ecommerce grow, businesses’ use of sustainable packaging to protect goods in transit is becoming smarter, but there’s still room for improvement.

We hear frequent announcements from businesses pledging to use 100% recyclable materials and recycle all their packaging, but while such initiatives may be second nature to some, confusion about some of the practicalities of recycling is putting others off getting involved.

This year has seen Low Emission Zones (LEZ’s) for vehicles being brought in across the UK, but local bans on particular types of plastic packaging have yet to come. Some observers argue that while we still have the chance, businesses who are committed to using plastic packaging to protect their goods should either switch to more acceptable forms, or engage with the debate and argue their case. Or better, both. This ‘engagement’ includes clearly explaining to customers about plastic packaging’s benefits and addressing concerns about plastic pollution by coming up with appropriate ‘end of life’ options for waste.

If they don’t have experts inhouse, businesses who use plastic packaging and are faced with rethinking this area of their operation can call on a growing number of packaging suppliers who are addressing recycling issues and developing solutions.

One such company, Kite Packaging works with customers to review their use of packaging, including ensuring it provides sufficient protection without using large amounts of unnecessary material. Such a review will also assess the business’s storage capabilities, packaging processes, transport systems and their customers’ requirements, to ensure the current packaging is the most efficient and effective option.

The Packaging Essential Requirements Regulations affect all companies who purchase packaging to add to their goods. Non-compliance can result in the prosecution of companies who use excessive packaging. Registration and assessment can be timeconsuming and complicated, hence the UK Government has approved a number of Government-Accredited Compliance Schemes to take end users through the process, including Kite’s scheme, Kite Environmental Solutions. Protective packaging for online shopping and e commerce needs to be environmentally friendly and sustainable, but achieving this needn’t involve a major operational rethink, or changing your packing medium. Another supplier, Pregis‘ technology slots into existing packing systems, meeting customers‘ needs for high volume, on-demand working. Whether paper, air or loose-fill, the technology is adaptable and can integrate with existing conveyor systems, packing stations, or work free-standing, to pack goods with recycled, biodegradable, compostable and even watersoluble material as required.

The important message, say Pregis, is that their modular solutions mean businesses can integrate more sustainable packing methods without compromising their shipping standards. Rather than trying to change your entire operation at once, begin by changing some of it.

And finally, a story about prestige packaging wowing punters. The e commerce boom has led to an upsurge in demand for attractive, premium packaging materials, with happy customers more likely to place repeat orders. Storopack’s high quality packaging range is ideal for packing luxury goods. Storopack also supply the Chevron automated belt system, which can be integrated into packing line operations and significantly increases the amount of parcels moving through the packing area.

BILL REDMOND

Features Editor