We expect a lot from packaging and packaging systems when it comes to preparing items for safe, efficient movement through supply chains or by mail or the parcel networks. But there’s more. Not only must packaging for logistics meet its functional requirements, these days it needs to be as ‘green’ as possible.
The warehouse and logistics industry have taken major steps recently to move to a more circular model where packaging is reused and recycled more, while still maintaining that secondary and tertiary packaging and returnable transit packaging as we know them still offer the most effective protection for goods in transit.
The packaging suppliers are playing an active part in this initiative. Kite Packaging have seen a ‘hugely positive’ response to their 2019 initiative aimed at reducing the impact of plastics on the environment, which has already delivered a 95-tonne plastic reduction against the target of 120 tonnes by December. As well as a wide range of eco-friendly products, Kite’s plastic reduction agenda includes not sending out direct mailings in polythene bags and minimising plastic wrapping around products. To support customers joining the initiative, Kite’s new Mobile Test Facility has been despatched to their premises with a team of packaging technologists and specialist engineers, to work alongside customers, carry out packaging audits and explore eco-friendly alternatives.
\ Continuing the trend, this year’s IMHX show will include a number of packaging companies exhibiting products and solutions which respond to growing demands for sustainable packaging. Among the exhibitors, Storopack are highlighting their new MINIMUM 50 percent AIRplus recycled air cushions and the recycled PAPERplus in-the-box protective packaging. Storopack currently generate over 25% of their revenue from products made from sustainable or recycled raw materials.
Returnable Transit Packaging is getting both greener and smarter too. Agriplus, Schoeller Allibert’s new big boxes for fresh produce, are ideal for automated handling and electronic tracking and tracing. Agriplus is lighter than the competition but still as robust, lowering fuel costs and carbon footprints. Also, after its long service life, Agriplus can be fully recycled, further lowering its carbon footprint.
A major function of packaging is to shield items from external threats like excessive temperatures, drop damage, impact and tampering. Detection devices can be fitted to packaging to record occurrences. Kite Packaging’s new temperature indicators help ensure temperatures are maintained in transit. Available in two specifications, food and pharmaceutical, these small selfadhesive labels go inside packaging and monitor the temperature and indicate when the threshold has been breached and for how long.
Finally, with so many different activities at any one time, most warehouse processes are still carried out by humans, but packing increasingly involves machinery. However, as packaging experts Pregis point out, it’s not always easy for managers to evaluate how physically challenging packing all day can be. Also, dated packaging systems are less likely to be designed ergonomically, leading not only to accidents, but physical strains on the body. In addition, older systems will almost certainly show signs of wear and tear that could result in breakdowns or worse, an accident. So next time you’re looking at your packaging arrangements, take a good look at both your packaging materials and your machinery.