Packaging in 2022 – The key solutions for the New Year

Since the beginning of the pandemic, retail has seen a significant shift to ecommerce shopping methods. With that brings increased need for additional packaging when transporting and shipping goods.

As a result, this will continue to increase the need for more sustainable and environmentally friendly packaging solutions.

We have been exploring the key packaging solutions that we believe will become increasingly popular in the new year.

Packaging Automation

With COVID 19 continuing to be a threat across the globe, the automation of packaging will continue to be important for many manufacturers and distributors. This will reduce the amount of workers needed within one space and overall costs to the business too.

Not only that, automating your process will allow the business to increase their targets, which will continue to improve efficiency.

Ecommerce Packaging

The shift in consumer behaviour since the beginning of the pandemic is highly unlikely to ever return to pre-COVID levels. As a result, consumers will continue to expect a smooth and flawless experience – from browsing their purchase to placing their order and its delivery.

This means every detail, right down to the packaging must impress. Consumers are aware of the environmental issues facing the planet and with that they expect to see changes to the ways in which their goods are packaged and delivered to them. Reducing unnecessary and excess packaging is a crucial step in that process.

Reusable Packaging

Reusable packaging has become very popular in recent years and can be seen in more and more shapes and forms. Whether that is reusable plastic for cleaning products or paper bags that can also be used as wrapping paper.

When packaging isn’t necessarily reusable, it is important for consumers that it is made from recycled materials or can be recycled once used.

Ribble Right Size

At Ribble our Right Size Packaging solutions allows you to reduce excess packaging and create a sustainable alternative that reduces costs by creating custom packaging solutions to meet your needs. We use 100% recycled cardboard that is 100% recyclable, meaning it is the perfect sustainable solution.

The benefits for choosing Right Size can be seen in the reduced need for void fillers within your boxes due to the packaging being custom created for whatever you are distributing; you can improve your vehicle utilisation by up to 25% and the creation of a more environmentally sustainable packaging process.

Get in touch today to discuss how Right Size can improve your business packaging solutions.

Helping businesses to reduce waste and carbon emissions

“As terrifying as it is, climate change is setting us on a path of self-destruction.”

Ribble Packaging were delighted to have been able to take part in Insider’s Green Revolution. Discussing and highlighting the importance of sustainability within businesses in the North West and how we can play our part in meeting the challenges of the current climate crisis.

The article discussed how the record growth of ecommerce over the past year has put a huge strain on companies to meet demand, which has meant that we have seen shortages from raw materials to lorry drivers.

Our Managing Director, Stephen Rector, explained; “Boxes are often too large for their products and so they are filled with non-sustainable ‘void-fill’ materials like plastic or polystyrene. It is clearly a hugely wasteful and inefficient method of getting the product out.”

Ribble customers usually see a 30% saving on corrugated costs and recovery of warehouse space with the elimination of obsolete packaging storage.

Stephen went on to discuss the ways in which Right Size packaging solutions can; “Streamline the entire process and mitigates or ideally eliminates void-fill and wastage by making the packaging perfectly sized to fit the product”.

Right Size packaging automation has allowed business over the past year to not have to rely so heavily on manual labour in a time when the pandemic put a serious strain on the labour reliant aspect of supply chains. The introduction of automation has not only encouraged waste reduction, but it’s also allowed businesses to operate in a more efficient, controllable and reliable way.

If you would like more information on how Ribble Packaging could help your business become more environmentally friendly, please contact us today.

How I discovered the Right Size solution for returns management

I joined Ribble Packaging in April 2021 as a Business Development Manager with a primary objective to sell Panotec automated box making machines and Fanfold corrugated board.

The moment I investigated the type of machinery I would be offering, I was sold. A machine, that produces the perfect size box, within a matter of seconds, on site, on demand? Where can I buy one of these for my garage?! I could instantly see the benefit and asked myself ‘why have I never heard of this before, its genius!’

After my induction and training, I was allocated a handful of accounts to manage, including a number of high-profile retailers. I was surprised, shocked, and intrigued when I heard some used their Panotec box maker solely to package returned product, ready for re-sale. My mind started to wander. I visited one of their sites to see their operation firsthand and was very impressed. They use the Panotec bar code scanning system. This means they input the dimensions and sizes of the box they require and marry that up with the product bar code. They now have a database of hundreds of products which, with the scan of a bar code, can replicate the same box style almost immediately.

This got me thinking, what normally happens to these returns? Well, after a small amount of research, the options became very clear. Either: order new packaging, send back to be re-boxed, send to landfill or palletize with other products and sell on to someone who will try and a make a pound or two (often making a YouTube video titled: I bought this pallet full of returns & made £££££) either way, companies are loosing a vast amount money.

Ribble also work with a manufacturer who also use their machine solely for returns. This company have saved over £250,000 in their first few months of using their Panotec machine.

Now, when I speak with prospective clients, returns are always something I’ll discuss. Not only can Right Size revolutionize the way you handle returns, it also:

  • Reduces your annual corrugated spend (generally by 20-30%).
  • Eliminates the need to stockpile boxes which are the wrong size for your product.
  • Improves vehicle utilization by up to 25%.
  • Saves huge labour costs.
  • Hugely reduces the requirement for void fillers and other plastic packaging
  • Creates an environmentally sustainable packaging process.

Often, the return on investment for one of our machines is only a couple of years. Ribble will work with you to optimize the way you package. We can also offer several payment options to suit your businesses individual requirements.

For the company I mentioned earlier, they have generated an additional £250,000 in only a couple of months. This means their machine has paid for itself twice over, they have reduced the amount of product going to landfill and taken full control over their packaging.

Does this all sound too good to be true?!?!  Well, I can assure you it’s not, and that’s the exact reason I took the job back in April. Ribble are a hugely credible company, with oodles of experience and a history of manufacturing cardboard since 1938. I am now pleased to be a part of their heritage.

The Lifecycle of a Cardboard Box: Corrugated Packaging & The Circular Economy

The environmental impact of materials and products has become a growing talking point across many industries because of the huge amounts of waste going to landfill. It’s time to make a change and we’re here to share with you the many benefits of adopting a circular economy.

A lot more goes into the lifecycle of a cardboard box to make it eco-friendly, than you might think and the process of being environmentally friendly starts early on. In fact, 80% of a product’s environmental impact is locked in at the design stage!

What is the circular economy?

Traditionally, the economy used to operate a linear model, where we would make a product, use it and then dispose of it. The difference with a circular economy is that resources are kept in use for as long as possible by extracting the most value from them at every stage when in use and at the end of their life by recovering and regenerating products and materials.

Moving from a “make, use, dispose of” to a “make/remake, use/reuse” process.

How does the lifecycle of corrugated cardboard relate to a circular economy?

The circular economy is just the way of life for the corrugated packaging industry. After all, it is one of the most recycled paper products. as its 100% recyclable and biodegradable. At Ribble Packaging, all our corrugated papers are FSC Certified meaning that all the papers used can be traced as far back to the specific tree that they came from. Here’s a summary of what happens at each stage…

The Circular Economy Model

Stage 1: Design & Manufacture (using raw materials to create a product)

When designing a product, the designer must consider how a product will be collected and recycled after use, how to select materials and processes that reduce any impact on the environment and lastly, how they can extend the life of the product.

Stage 2: Retailer (selling a product to consumer)

In the circular economy, there’s an opportunity for retailers to improve customer experience and connect with new customers on a deeper level by establishing shared values concerning the environment. Consumers are demanding these days with online retailers playing a particularly big role in the delivery of a circular economy.

The retailer should consider how they can increase the lifetime of products and how they can make it easier for consumers to recycle, resell and donate. As well as reducing packaging waste when sending products in the wrong size boxes with excessive void fillers.

Stage 3: Consumer

Whilst consumers are wanting a more sustainable world, they are reluctant to overpay for this. Therefore, it’s important to consider the consumer when pricing. Prices need to be fair and reflect quality.

Stage 4: Re-use/Repair/Repurpose product if possible

Re-use and recycling are not the same. Re-use of products and materials is more beneficial

as it retains a product’s value by keeping it in use for longer. Thus, minimising waste, creating jobs, and reducing consumption and the carbon impact it has.

To reduce the amount of product we send to landfills we need to increase the rate of re-use for products and their components. The supply chain and consumers both play an important role in this stage of the circular economy model.

Consider an incentivised return for returned products that can be refurbished and resold. As well as maximising the product lifetime to reduce repeated purchases.

Stage 5: Recycle into raw material to begin at stage 1 again.

This involves the collection, sorting and processing of disposed materials for use in other manufacturing processes. Depending on the complexity of the product being recycled, the process will vary, and care needs to be taken to maintain the integrity of materials each time they are recycled.

To conclude, the circular economy essentially feeds material back into the process ready for something new to be created using the recycled materials. In relation to corrugated boxes, a new box is created by feeding the used paper back into the cycle.

Eventually, the UK will run out of natural resources if we don’t move to a circular economy. It sounds sensationalist but the evidence is stacking up and the impact of our linear economy is becoming increasingly apparent across many industries.

If you’d like to speak to us about how Ribble is helping companies like yours to reduce their environmental impact by reducing packaging waste, give us a call on 0161 284 9000 or email

Frequently Asked Questions about Right Size Solutions

Frequently Asked Questions about Right Size Solutions


As experts in Right Size Packaging, we get lots of questions from people who are interested in switching. So, we thought we’d cover the basics here and let you find out for yourself if Right Size Packaging is right for you…


How much does Right Size Packaging cost?


This is our number one question when we have a prospective customer, but the truth is – it’s not an easy one. There is no set answer as it is very dependable on what industry you work in, type of machine required and the way in which you acquire the machine. At Ribble Packaging, we offer various ways of acquiring the machine including (but not limited to) rentals, amortise and connect deals, in addition to purchasing the machines outright.


How many boxes can be produced per minute?


Right-sized boxes per minute will depend on the model of the Panotec machine you opt for. Please see below our latest estimations.


Nextpro – Approx. 10 boxes per minute

Evo – Approx. 4 boxes per minute

Midi – Approx. 4 boxes per minute


How many people are required in the warehouse to manage the system?


All of our Panotec machines can be run by just one operator. For a trainee operator, the process of loading a pallet, feeding the fanfold into the machine and producing a box, can be achieved in just a few minutes!


Depending on your business and if you choose to add on any additional automated extras such as the Scan table, E-Gluer, and Varypack, then more operators could make the process quicker and more efficient.


How much warehouse space will a Right Size Packaging system need?


Business Directors and Production Managers often worry that having a flexible packaging management system will require tonnes of space. But the truth is, you’ll actually save space by not having to store multiple shapes and sizes of packaging materials. Listed below are the approximate space requirements depending on which Panotec model you choose.


Nextpro operating width – 2.5m

Evo operating width – 2.5m

Midi operating width – 1.4m


Each machine will have different a different number of cassettes. These are essentially bays for the pallets to go in. Depending on your business requirements, this will be optimised for maximum production.

Right Size Packaging is perfect for businesses that sell products of all different shapes and sizes. By having customisable boxes on demand, companies can reduce the costs of storing packaging and benefit from having no additional filling material to purchase.


If you think Right Size Packaging could be for you or you have a question that we haven’t covered here, please get in touch.

Reduce Waste and Carbon Emissions With Right Size Solutions

Right Size: Helping businesses reduce waste and carbon emissions

Online retail sales have been soaring at an all-time high during the COVID-19 pandemic with the IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index recording a growth of 36% in 2020. As a result, demand for recyclable and sustainable packaging solutions, such as corrugated board, has increased dramatically.

Stephen Rector, Managing Director of Ribble Packaging, explains, “In itself, corrugated board for boxes is a very sustainable and recyclable product. The recycling rates for paper and board in the UK are extremely high in comparison to other packaging products and they are increasing.”

However, the correct and responsible use of packaging solutions is necessary in order to be fully sustainable. Stephen explains “Boxes are often too large for their products and so they are filled with non-sustainable ‘void-fill’ materials like plastic, bubble wrap or polystyrene.  It is clearly a hugely wasteful and inefficient method of getting the product out.”

Reducing wastage with Right Size.

Ribble Packaging, a packaging solutions provider based in Oldham, manufacture corrugated board from recycled paper. Rector says, “In total, 100% of our corrugated board is 100% recyclable, while the paper we buy to manufacture our board is 100% recycled. So, our raw material is 100% recycled and our product is 100% recyclable.”

This product is flexible, cost-effective and can be converted into Fanfold packaging which is a long piece of corrugated board scored at regular intervals and folded neatly and compactly. Fanfold can then be used to pack single or multiple products by feeding it into fully automated packaging machines to create an exact size box and therefore, eliminate waste.

Ribble Packaging are the European market leader for the manufacture and supply of corrugated Fanfold, in addition to pioneering Right Size packaging solutions in the UK. “Right size packaging streamlines the entire process and mitigates or ideally eliminates void-fill and wastage by making the packaging perfectly sized to fit the product” Rector explains.

When using the correct size packaging, carbon emissions can also be reduced, as more products can be loaded onto vehicles ready for dispatch and thus increase vehicle utilisation by around 25%. According to The Road Transport Industry report in 2019, “78% of goods are moved by road”, and transportation costs can be a huge part of a company’s overall logistics spending. If it’s possible to reduce this through Right Size packaging, its arguably one of the most beneficial solutions a company can implement due to the ever-rising fuel costs and the impact this can then have on the price of goods to the end-user.

How can automation help?

Unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many retailers to rethink their entire business model and consider adopting an automated process for packaging. The Coronavirus pandemic will be a defining moment in history for years to come for many reasons, but if you are an online retailer you’re likely to have witnessed a considerable peak in sales during the lockdown. With more and more consumers left with no outlet for escape, it is no wonder those who had never shopped online before chose to switch to e-commerce. This was of course great news for online retailers who unlike other businesses could thrive in sales, but in reality, many e-fulfilment centres struggled to cope with demand.

Those already with fully automated systems in place were in a beneficial position as they could safely limit the number of staff in the warehouse and abide by social distancing during this unprecedented time. Over the past year many retailers have followed suit as they realised the benefits and resilience automation allows during unprecedented times.

Rector explains, “The majority of retailers rely on manual labour, especially for packing processes, but the pandemic has really brought home the benefits of automation. In the face of COVID-related staff absences and social distancing requirements, one of these fully automated machines operated by just two people can pack up to 1,000 units an hour and do the job of 10 efficient packers.”

Not only does automated packaging provide a sustainable option and encourage waste reduction, but packaging automation also provides reassurance for consumers. During a world-wide health crisis, consumers have understandably grown more concerned about where they source their products and having knowledge that their product and its packaging has been handled by as few people as possible is a new selling point for retailers.

“As one of the pioneers of right size packaging in the UK, we are not prepared to sit on our laurels,” says Rector. “We have earmarked £3.5million over the next two years to significantly increase capacity of fanfold manufacture and protect our hard-won position as the UK’s fanfold market leader. The business-to-consumer market is growing exponentially and our continuing investment is designed to maintain our market position in this rapidly growing sector.”

Richard Hunter in conversation with KBB Review…

In next month’s KBB review, Ribble Packaging Sales Director, Richard Hunter will be covering ‘How to take back control of your packaging’. KBB Review is a kitchen, bedroom and bathroom specialist publication that is part of Taylist Media.

Here’s a run-down of everything we discussed…

What have been the challenges in the packaging market during 2021?

Towards the end of 2020 and for all of 2021, the demand for cardboard has shown exponential growth. The main challenge through this growth has been the extremely tight supply of paper from Europe and UK paper mills. This has led to hugely extended lead times for box orders across the UK with 4-8 weeks from some suppliers. Paper costs have also risen by nearly 50% since December 2020 leading to an increase in the cost of packaging.

How has Ribble helped KBB manufacturers secure their packaging supply chain?

During Q4 2020 and throughout 2021, Ribble Packaging has successfully met every customer’s service level agreement on time every time, not one contracted customer has seen delays in supply, which in itself is a remarkable statement considering the extreme pressures on raw material supply.  We have seen a rise in demand for our ‘Right size solutions’ which involves a supply of one of our core strategic growth products ‘Fanfold endless corrugated cardboard’. Customers including Wren Kitchens and Nobia have been able to take complete control of their packaging by having a flexible box making solution on site.

What are Right Size packaging solutions?

The solution involves endless corrugated Fanfold and a flexible ‘on-site solution’ from one of a number of machine and software specialists. Ribble Packaging is the UK dealer for Panotec, an Italian manufacturer and provider of state-of-the-art equipment.  Once the customer has both components, the machine system and Fanfold material, they can make perfect sized and structurally designed right size packaging for their supply chain. This can either be ‘batch’ production or true flexibility with every box being a different size.

What benefits do Right Size solutions offer?

Perfectly sized box making will reduce wasted corrugated material for each item that needs packing. It eliminates the need for ‘void fill’ and can also reduce the need for void protection such as ‘EPS’ polystyrene, blue foam edging and other protective and space-filling solutions currently used. As the machine can be fed by multiple widths of material, options for single and double wall plain and printed corrugated materials are catered for. Typically, we then see inventory reduction of ‘classic made’ boxes from 100’s of SKUs down to possibly 4-8 widths of continuous Fanfold.  The machine takes care of the style and sizing, and MOQ stocks of classic (traditionally supplied) boxes are hugely reduced, freeing up space and money. Of course, at this moment in time, the huge advantage is that the customer will always be able to make boxes to pack, ship and invoice their products to meet increasing demands through Ribble’s commitment to ensure corrugated Fanfold supplies are available.

Has Ribble made changes to their business to adapt to customer demands?

Yes, big steps have already been happening throughout 2020 and continue throughout 2021 and beyond.  The major investment includes the significant increase in capacity for Fanfold and sheet board production with the upgrades on the corrugator.  A second, ‘state of the art’ Fanfold down stacker was installed during August 2020 giving a 30% operational capacity increase and this followed upgrades in material handling and corrugator upgrades earlier in the year. An increase in 19,000 sq ft of warehouse space was completed in June 2020 and will see more space added in 2021.

We will continue to enhance production capability during 2021 and over the Christmas period at the end of 2021. Combined with an increase in available production hours and employment of new operational staff, sales team and administration personnel, along with our continued commitment to meet the increased demand for Fanfold and classic box production.

If you would like to take back control of your packaging supply, get in touch on 0161 284 9000 or

Sustainable Returns: Why Repackaging Returned Items Saves the Planet?

According to a recent study, returns cost UK retailers £60bn a year, £20bn of which is generated alone by items purchased online. Now, this isn’t all down to the items ending up in landfill, but a lot of returned items often come back damaged due to improper packaging, meaning retailers are unable to resell what was a perfectly good item.

This is ultimately a failed returns process as the goods have to be heavily reduced in order to sell them again or they will end up in a landfill.

A good returns process needs to be sustainable. It needs to improve value recovery, increase efficiency and keep costs to a minimum. But with 30% of shoppers admitting to deliberately over-purchasing items online so that they return unwanted ones, retailers are already set up for a challenge.

So how do you ensure a sustainable returns process? There are a number of ways:

  • Choose a returns facility with locations near to your distribution centre. This will reduce your carbon footprint as you’re cutting down on road mileage.
  • Have a smart returns management software that can help maximise value recovery with more return-to-stock.
  • Reduce your prices to sell more and avoid landfills.

But, to do any of these, you need to first have in place a strong packaging solution you can rely on. You won’t be able to return items to stock or reduce prices if the item is damaged in transit.

We recommend Ribble Right Size packaging solution so that you can avoid your products getting damaged and easily repackage them to sell again at full ticket value.

If you would like to learn more about how you can adopt a more sustainable returns process with Right Size packaging, please get in touch.

Futureproof with the new Super Deduction Tax Allowance

New super-deduction makes it the perfect time to invest in futureproofing your business.

The new Super Deduction Tax Allowance introduced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak is probably the single biggest tax incentive any UK government has given for business investment into assets and equipment.


Why is it such an attractive incentive?

From 1 April 21 until the end of March 23, companies can claim 130% capital allowance on qualifying plant and machinery investments. This means businesses can significantly reduce the cost of a Right Size packaging solution. Plus all the savings a Right Size solution already offers in return for the investment.

To make it even more simple; for every pound spent on qualifying machinery and equipment, you will get 25 pence back. Businesses may also benefit from a 50% first-year allowance for qualifying special rate (inc. long life) assets. So, the 130% super-deduction and 50% first-year allowance could reduce your corporation tax bills until 2023.


In Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s own words, “It’s a direct way to help businesses invest” and “drive growth in the economy”


Why invest in Right Size Packaging?

Well, besides it being the perfect time to invest in your business, Right Size Packaging can save you money by reducing your overall costs in packaging as you won’t be using as many boxes or need to stock as many styles/sizes. You will also reduce vehicle usage considerably, spending less on petrol as packages will be able to fit in fewer deliveries; it’s a win, win.

If would like to learn more about the benefits of Ribble Right Size Packaging, click here.

It’s definitely a great time to analyse your business and determine the best investments you can make to take advantage of this tax incentive before 2023. If you would like any more information or if you have a question regarding our packaging solutions, please get in touch.

What is Sustainable Packaging?

Sustainable packaging has been around for some time now and more and more companies are moving to sustainable products and packaging because of the demand of today’s consumer. Being sustainable is no longer a ‘nice to have’ business practice, it’s quickly becoming the norm which is why 74% of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable packaging. But, what makes packaging sustainable and what’s so wrong with normal packaging?

Packaging that is sustainable must be sourced, developed and used in a way that has minimal impact on the environment and reduced carbon footprint. This will usually involve the use of non-recyclable materials, i.e., those that have increased use of life cycle inventory (LCI) as well as those that are biodegradable.

Why is there an environmental issue with some types of packaging?

Usually, most products are packaged using materials that take a long time to break down which can lead to overcrowded landfill sites and litter pollution. Packaging also uses a lot of resources such as energy, water, chemicals, petroleum, minerals etc to produce, and manufacturing these can generate harmful air emissions including carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Due to this, many consumers are aware of the damage that non-eco-friendly packaging can cause to the environment. Overpackaged items have also caused uproar amongst many buyers complaining that companies aren’t being precautious enough.

With customer demands for businesses to be kinder to the environment, businesses and consumers alike need to know which materials and packaging are most harmful.

Types of packaging that are the problem:

  • Non-recyclable plastic packaging
  • Styrofoam
  • Packaging peanuts
  • Loose food packaging

Sustainable Alternatives:

  • Biodegradable bags
  • Paper & Cardboard packaging
  • Reusable packaging

Does sustainable packaging really cost more?

When it comes to sustainable packaging, people usually question why more companies don’t use sustainable packaging methods? The answer: it’s more expensive. But with more consumers expecting eco-friendly packaging, is this likely to change and is the cost worth it?

Think about it, with more people buying into sustainable packaging methods, more companies are having to manufacture it, therefore sooner or later the market price will reduce due to the increased competition.

Plastic packaging is becoming more expensive thanks to new government regulations and the introduction of plastic packaging tax. This tax will apply to any plastic packaging that does not contain at least 30% of recyclable plastic. The additional cost will hopefully be the much-needed push for companies to switch to more sustainable materials and practices.

The biggest cost of all; our environment.

Whilst sustainable products and packaging are at a slightly higher price point than the non-sustainable alternative, the cost for many is completely viable. With non-biodegradable packaging being a huge cause of overfilled landfill sites, and the production of greenhouse gases, that can ultimately affect global warming; the reasons why you should switch to sustainable packaging are endless.

At Ribble Packaging, we’re delighted to be a sustainability-led business, offering environmentally friendly packaging solutions throughout the UK. We work with many of the UK’s biggest companies helping them create a sustainable packaging process that works for their business. If you would like to learn more, please get in touch to find out how Ribble can help you.

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