Right Size: Helping businesses reduce waste and carbon emissions

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.”



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