Sustainability Made Simple With Packaging Automation

With a growing need for companies to accelerate their sustainability and social responsibility, it’s come as no surprise that 2020 has seen more and more businesses continuing to phase out the use of plastic packaging and introduce packaging automation. Just recently, Lego have stated that they are aiming for all packaging to be sustainable by 2025. Neils B Christiansen, CEO at Lego Group says,

 “It’s critical to take urgent action now to care for the planet and future generations.”

Caring for the future is a mission that every business globally needs to adopt, not only because it’s important to value the planet, but you must ensure you don’t lose sight of your consumers values and the fundamental changes they come up against as a result of climate change.

Whilst the global coronavirus pandemic has taken hold, many retailers and other industries have recognised the need for automation across many departments, as would be expected due to the shortfall of workers and the urgent need for hygienic, sanitary processes to be in place.

But how can packaging automation help create a more sustainable process?

In terms of packaging, automating the process not only vastly improves the efficiency of your business by reducing the strain of your workforce and improving the quality of your packaging, right size packaging solutions will also decrease any waste. Not only this, your efficiency levels will be optimised as automated packaging means less reliance on workforce, as machines do not need a ‘break’.

Reducing packaging waste also means that if you do use plastic packaging for your items, this usage is kept to an absolute minimum. At Ribble, we preserve environmental resources by using 100% recycled and recyclable Fanfold for our automated packaging solutions.

Adopting a right size packaging solution to your business, does exactly what it says – you have the right size box to fit the product meaning no excess waste, leading to improved sustainability. It will size, construct, weigh and label each custom order to create the perfect package and eliminate the need for any fill material – saving you money on labour and reducing box volume for delivery.

Businesses who have incorporated our right-size packaging solution have saved 30% in packaging costs!

By having smaller packages for your products, you will also utilise available courier vehicle space better, which will in turn reduce the number of vehicles on the road, reducing your CO2 emissions and collectively making you a more sustainable business.

In celebration of Recycling Week 2020, we’re inviting you to a virtual demonstration of how right size solutions can make your packaging more sustainable. In just 15 minutes, you’ll learn how your business can go green. To register please visit https://ribble-pack.co.uk/campaigns/go-green-in-15.

How Businesses have used Packaging Automation to aid their Covid Response

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’re 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 the reality of many e-fulfilment centres, they struggled to cope with demand.

Those already with a Packaging Automation system 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. On the other hand, those supply chains that have been dragging their feet in automation had to tackle the struggle of not being able to meet the demand in sales and thus face the bad reputation that comes with this. E-commerce supply chains require fast order processing, efficient picking and packing and reliable delivery of thousands of units per day, so when you fail at this, you ultimately fall victim to poor reviews and a damaged brand.

Automation has helped many Online Retailers through COVID as they have been able to reduce the congestion of staff in the packing areas, whilst still increasing the volume of deliveries at the same time. Not only does automated packaging provide a sustainable option and encourages waste reduction, automated packaging 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. In a time that sees an increased awareness in hygiene, the value of single-use packaging may be on the rise again…

By focusing on efficiency and delivering to your consumers, we have already seen a steady increase in packaging automation as e-commerce retailers take greater control over the supply chain. Right sized packaging enables a single operative to make any box, at the correct size for any goods, packing single or multiple items.  This means faster packaging, using less materials and smaller packages, so you can get more products per pallet – reducing truckloads, cost and carbon. When you combine this with our corrugated Fanfold material, you can typically generate a 25% reduction in corrugated costs and up to a 100% reduction in void fillers. As logistics centres increase social distancing measures, automation can help increase throughput with reduced staffing levels.

 

To find out more about our automated packaging options, please get in touch.

 

How to future proof your business using automation

In today’s increasingly competitive marketplace, automation can often be seen on the agenda of most forward-thinking businesses. However, many may be thinking that the use of automation will instantly give them rewards and save on costs, sometimes this can be the case, but the use of automation needs to be viewed as a long-term strategy. For starters, sometimes the initial investment is not a small outlay and the costs involved in moving from manual processes into automated procedures can be high.

The key to evolving into automation is found in the medium-to-long-term, simply put this means the longer automation is used, the more powerful its ability to reduce costs becomes.

So how does automation improve production efficiency and decrease production costs?

Automated machines have no need to take breaks. They work at a faster rate, lowering manufacturing overheads, and increase output at the same time. In short, it means you can manufacture more products within the same space and time.

Automated technology continues to improve year-on-year, a recent stat from NCCI – “Only about 10% of manufacturing tasks globally were performed by robots in 2015. But that percentage is expected to rise to 25% by 2025 as robots become less expensive and easier to program, making them more accessible, particularly to small businesses.”

Automation also has the ability to work collaboratively with the human workforce. Sensor systems have become far more adept and built with safety in mind, with features such as collaborative machines that can detect too much resistance to their movement, so they automatically shut down. The positive effect here is a safer workplace for employees, and a far lower risk of accidents occurring.

Businesses need resilience, flexibility, and scalability. In other words, they need automation, delivering substantial results to the bottom line.

The real question here should be Why would you not automate? By choosing an automated solution like ‘right-size packaging’ you too can begin to reap the benefits that automation brings along with future proofing your business.

Find out how you can automate your packaging process in just 15 minutes, from the comfort of your own chair with our virtual demonstration by calling 0161 284 9000

Why is automation the future for packaging?

The day of shipping boxes 40% oversized has come to an end. Constructing boxes, packing, weighing, sealing and labelling manually is a slow process, and few have either the physical space or the available labour to create additional packing solutions for your ever-changing stock.

The quality of the packaging matters to customers, if nothing else, the package is the first impression. The condition of the contents upon arrival to the customer is important, more and more we are seeing a demand for less void fill. This comes at a time with the current climate where we are seeing a spike in online deliveries. With the average box being 40% too big, add to this the cost of shipping boxes too large for their contents and it gets expensive.

A simple size-constrained machine using only one-size of box does not cater for the wide variety of products and order sizes experienced by most businesses. If demand for smaller items to be packed exceeds the capacity of the relevant machine, the supplier has no option but to move up a box size, or two, or three, or do they?

What is the answer?

Rightsized boxes and pouches assembled on automated equipment are the future. The system scans and measures the item, or group of items, to be packed and calculates the ‘best fit’ box shape and size. The material for the box and lid is cut and creased to size, erected around the item(s) and the lid glue-sealed – which is faster and more recyclable than using tape.

This approach addresses the waste problem – cardboard usage typically cut by 20%, and a tight fit eliminates the need for void fill. Total package volumes can be reduced by 50%, maximising the use of the truck or trailer cube and reducing shipping costs and environmental impacts.

What is there not to like?

The business case I think you will agree is impressive. Even operating ‘off-peak’ at below capacity there is a quick Return on Investment in the form of material savings, lower shipping costs and labour economies – labour that could be redeployed to other tasks.

By choosing an automated solution like ‘right-size packaging’ businesses can meet their fulfilment promises, even in the peaks, while respecting the environment, reducing transit damage and saving money.

Find out how you can automate your packaging process in just 15 minutes, from the comfort of your own chair with our virtual demonstration by calling 0161 284 9000

Sustainable Product Packaging: 6 Packaging Designs To Inspire

The packaging manufacturing sector is an £11 billion industry and a significant contributor to the UK economy.

It is also an industry that is continually evolving, thanks, in part, to technological changes. Public pressure is playing a role too, however; a recent WWF report showed a third of British people are concerned about the levels of packaging used in the products they buy.

Thinking of the response to programmes like Blue Planet II and environmental activists like Greta Thunberg, it’s probably not surprising. It does, however, mean that it’s no longer enough for companies to say they care about the planet. They need to prove their commitment to the environment. Moreover, sustainable product packaging is one of the easiest and most noticeable ways of doing this.

What is sustainable product packaging?

According to the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, sustainable product packaging is packaging that has a limited environmental impact and reduces that impact over time. Examples of this include:

  • Packaging that uses 100% recycled materials or can be recycled.
  • Production processes that make the best use of resources or source materials locally to reduce their carbon footprint.
  • Packaging that is part of a circular economy, extending its lifecycle and usability.
  • Limiting the amount of packaging used, e.g. by reducing void filler (or doing away with it entirely).
  • Swapping single-use plastics for reusable or recyclable products such as cardboard, paper, bio-plastics or other bio-based materials.

It is worth noting, however, that – while all of this packaging may be sustainable – it isn’t always.  Plant-based packaging, for example, has been known to come from halfway across the world, including the rainforests. It’s important, therefore, that companies drill down to where materials come from and how they are manufactured when developing sustainable product packaging – just because the packaging says it’s eco-friendly doesn’t mean it’s sustainable. 

Innovations in sustainable product packaging

One of the best things about the push for sustainable product packaging is the innovation we are seeing in packaging design. Across the industry, companies are coming up with new and exciting ways to package products that reduce their environmental impact.  So, because we know changing packaging can be daunting, we’ve put together six of our favourite new sustainable packaging designs to inspire you.

Fat Face bags as wrapping paper

Fat Face bags as wrapping paper, sustainable product packaging

High Street and online retailer Fat Face have been focusing on sustainability across the board in recent years. This includes not just the materials they use to make their clothes but the packaging those clothes come in. It has reduced its carbon footprint by 8% since 2018. In part, this was down to making the move to recycled plastic bags for its products and recycled paper bags for its online deliveries. 

This Christmas, by using recycled paper bags in its stores that doubled as wrapping paper, it helped its customers reduce their carbon footprint too. Customers could recycle the wrapping paper too, which isn’t always possible with other brands.  Not only is this a great idea, it means customers have increased awareness of how Fat Face are doing their bit, which should – in turn – increase brand loyalty.

It’s probably worth mentioning that Fat Face isn’t the only brand looking to make their shopping bags more useful.  H&M, for example, have bags that turn into coat hangers, as do the HangBag Project and Transforma. Meanwhile, companies like Triumph Plants produce biodegradable wrapping paper embedded with seeds to reduce waste and have a positive environmental impact.

Rejuvenated compostable packaging

Rejuvenated compostable packaging

It’s not just Triumph Plants that are looking at producing products that are less likely to end up in landfill.  Packaging that is biodegradable or compostable is growing in popularity. Rejuvenated is a UK-based company that sells nutritional supplements. They have recently announced they are moving to compostable packaging, starting with a skincare supplement drink before rolling it out to other products. They will package the supplement in a bio-pouch which customers can compost at home.  

In addition, Rejuvenate now offer customers the option to purchase a metal scoop for their products rather than a plastic one (which they’ll be phasing out by the end of the year).  

Compostable packaging seems to be ideal for food-based products; other companies that have made the switch in the last few years include Tea Pigs (who also have no plastic in their tea bags) and Snact snack bars. However, it’s worth noting that while all compostable products are biodegradable, not all biodegradable products are compostable. Companies that are looking to make the shift to either need to make sure their customers understand how to dispose of the packaging properly.

The 60 Bag

The 60 Bag

Biodegradable products seem to have a wider reach than compostable products and can be found in all types of sustainable product packaging, including the 60 Bag. The 60 Bag is a good example of sustainability through the use of materials that have a low carbon footprint and result in minimal environmental impact. The bag is made from flax fibre. The fibre comes from industrial waste and producing the bag takes very little energy as a result. 

The bag looks good and has the strength needed for multiple uses. And, when it’s no longer fit for purpose (which can take a while), customers can be confident it won’t end up rotting in landfill for a hundred years. This is because the bags naturally biodegrade in 60 days. 

Garçon Wines flat wine bottle

Garçon Wines flat wine bottle

Most people would probably say ’round’ when describing a wine bottle and a few may say wine doesn’t come in bottles but in boxes. Garçon Wines, however, want to change that with their new, sustainable, wine bottle design. 

Their wine bottles, which are made from recycled materials (and are 100% recyclable), are flat. And, while this might seem a strange choice, the result is not only pleasing to the eye but cost-effective too.  First, they are 87% lighter than a traditional wine bottle. Plus, they are 40% spatially smaller. This means they need less packaging materials, require less storage space and have a lower carbon footprint. And, because of their design, Garçon Wines estimate each bottle saves the supply chain at least 500g of CO2. 

Gumipod chewing gum boxes

Gumipod chewing gum boxes

Gumipod is another company looking to change how we see traditional packaging by focusing on such a small part of our lives – chewing gum. Much of the focus of sustainable product packaging in recent years has been on larger packages full of void filler or wrapped in too much single-use plastic. Sometimes, however, smaller products can be packed in very non-sustainable ways. 

Chewing gum is a perfect example of this.  Little of the packaging that chewing gum comes in is reusable or recyclable.  Gumipod wants to change this. Their innovative new product is designed to move consumers away from wasteful gum wrappers and help keep the streets free from dropped chewing gum.  The boxes are made from food-grade recyclable plastic and designed to hold 12 pieces of gum on one side and 24 pieces of ‘used’ gum on the other. Hopefully, gum manufacturers will jump on this sustainable product packaging bandwagon.

Accordion Packaging

Accordion Packaging

Not all sustainable product packaging, however, is new – some is just being rediscovered. Accordion packaging, for example, has been around for a few years but seems to be growing in popularity along with the trend for sustainable product packaging.  We’ve come across examples of it being used in clothing, chocolate, and beauty, and it seems to make perfect sense for those wanting to reduce the use of void fillers. 

The benefit of accordion packaging is that it really is a case of ‘one size fits all’ because containers can be made bigger or smaller depending on what is inside.  This is down to the fan-like folds that are used to create the packaging and can stretch as needed. Remember, though, as we mentioned before, the packaging is only as sustainable as the materials it is made from.  

While this design has the potential to be very eco-friendly and definitely ticks the box when it comes to reducing void filler, it still needs to be made from reusable or recyclable materials to be truly sustainable. 

Sustainable Packaging For Business Growth?

The packaging sector is constantly changing and evolving to meet consumer demand.  This has never been more the case than with sustainable product packaging. There are so many options out there for companies to change how they package and ship their goods that there is no excuse not to make the change. And, while the initial outlay may have a financial impact, in the long-term sustainable packaging is providing to not only be environmentally friendly but cost-effective for many businesses. Plus, it means something to their customers, which builds brand loyalty and will hopefully lead to continued business growth. 

Leading The Way With Packaging Innovation With Ribble Packaging

According to the Office of National Statistics, 82% of people in the UK shopped online in 2019 (a rise of 4% against 2018). That’s a lot of goods being shipped, and a lot of packaging being used. And, given how much of that packaging will have been too big for the goods being shipped, it’s a lot of waste and unnecessary cost.

When it comes to unnecessary packaging, waste and cost aren’t the only factors to consider. There is another side too: consumer opinion.  A recent survey by the Chartered Institute of Marketing found that 88% of people think their online shopping comes with too much packaging. And, a further 30% said too much packaging puts them off ordering with the same company again. 

Thankfully, for businesses who sell goods online, packaging innovation means tailor-made boxes, produced on demand are now an option available to retailers and manufacturers. A solution that, in the longer-term, can save them time and money while building a loyal customer base. 

What is on demand packaging?

On demand packaging is an innovative packaging solution that allows businesses to produce boxes to the exact size of the goods they’re shipping. State of the art machinery scans goods and cuts corrugated cardboard to the exact size needed. They’re a simple and effective solution to the problem of too much packaging. The results are less waste, less cost, higher levels of customer satisfaction and a smaller environmental footprint.

On demandPackaging innovation with

There are a number of on demand packaging solutions on the market and available in the UK, including:

CMC CartonWrap

CMC’s CartonWrap is an automated packaging system capable of producing 1,000 on demand boxes an hour. Each box fits the exact size and shape of the goods to be shipped. These are made in ‘real-time’ after an order is processed and ready for shipping. 

Businesses around the world use Carton Wrap. This includes Lakeland in the UK. However, the machine is primarily designed for larger enterprises that ship in high volumes. As a result, and due to its size, it doesn’t work as well for smaller businesses or those with limited warehouse space.

Neopost CVP-500

Neopost’s CVP-500 is a smaller machine, though possibly still not ideal for businesses with limited space due to its size. The machine is designed for mid-market businesses and makes up to 500 boxes an hour. Each fits the product it is shipping perfectly.  According to Neopost, the CVP-500 is equivalent to 15 packaging stations and saves businesses up to 20% on cardboard compared to traditional, standardised, packaging.

Ribble Right Size

Panotec’s machinery is available exclusively in the UK through Ribble, a Lancashire based packaging company who have been delivering innovative packaging solutions to its customers for 80 years. Right Size works seamlessly with Ribble’s fanfold cardboard, meaning it saves businesses 25% on cardboard and 100% on void fillers. It also means businesses have consistent access to high-quality materials and don’t have to worry about MOQs.

Unlike Neopost and CMC’s automated packaging machines, Right Size machinery is available in three sizes, meaning there is likely one that works for most businesses. Their smallest model, the Compak 1.4, for example, is only 1.4 metres wide and can produce 600 boxes an hour. There is also the Compak Evo, which produces 720 boxes per hour and the larger Next Mode model produces 840 boxes per hour.

The Benefits of On Demand Packaging

While there is an initial outlay to buying an on demand packaging system, something which may make businesses nervous, the short and long-term benefits make any investment well worthwhile. 

Speed

On demand packaging systems are fast, much faster than packaging by hand. As a result, businesses can be much more responsive to customer demand, fulfilling orders more quickly. It’s worth remembering that, as well as speed, companies should consider volume. As we’ve seen, different machinery can produce different numbers of boxes in an hour. 

It is important that businesses choose equipment that produces boxes at the rate they need them to. It is easy for businesses to over-estimate how many boxes they need. It is worth noting that Amazon’s new automated packaging system, for example, only produces 700 boxes an hour.

Accuracy

Systems like Right Size take the guesswork out of packaging. Businesses can be confident knowing that they will never order packaging that is too big or too small for the goods they want to ship. Plus, because systems produce labels at the same time as boxes, there is less chance of an order shipping to the wrong location. 

Flexibility

Not all products fit nicely into a standard box.  For example, Ribble work with Showcard who produce point of sale and large scale display posters. Both need specific packaging to ensure goods arrive at their destination in excellent condition. This isn’t always possible with ‘one size fits all’ boxes. It is possible with packaging innovation where businesses can size boxes to meet their specific needs.

Costs

Following the initial layout, on demand packaging machines can lead to huge costs savings, including:

Materials

Neopost estimates their CVP-500 saves 20% on conventional packaging. Right Size, meanwhile, can save a business 25% in corrugated cardboard, a significant saving. There is also less need for void filler. This is one of the most expensive parts of packaging because a) it costs money to buy and b) it costs money to transport. With void filler, businesses are basically paying to ship air. With systems such as Right Size, because it uses corrugated cardboard to protect goods, the need for void filler is completely eliminated.

Warehousing

Storing standardised boxes takes up space, resulting in warehouse costs that can be avoided by on demand packaging. An added benefit here is that the less packaging a business has to store, the more space they have to store goods (while not having to increase their square footage).

Errors

Goods picked and packed by hand are more likely to contain errors, leading to customers receive the wrong goods. When this happens, businesses sometimes take it as a loss, estimating it costs more to ship the products back that have the customer keep them. There is, however, a cost for then sending out the correct item. Packaging innovation reduces the risk of errors as it scans goods before packaging; some systems have digital displays that allow staff to match goods to orders. 

Damage

The chances of goods being damaged in transit increases when they are incorrectly packaged. This can be the result of boxes being the wrong size or insufficient void filler. Businesses then have to send replacement goods, which they have to pay for.

Transport

While the goods businesses ship determines their transport costs, most say shipping is their biggest outlay. In fact, some industry experts estimate transportation costs can run as high as 50%. Packaging innovation reduces the size of the packaging, meaning businesses can load more goods into their delivery vans. As a result, shipping goods requires fewer trucks and fewer journeys. This, in turn, reduces running costs and a company’s carbon footprint.

The Environmental Impact

Perhaps one of the most positive benefits of on demand packaging systems is that they reduce a business’s environmental impact.  This is becoming increasingly important to consumers. The Charted Institute of Marketing survey we mentioned earlier, for example, found:

  • 36% of people surveyed judge a company’s ethics based on their packaging
  • 17% had complained to a company because of excess packaging with their goods
  • 10% were less likely to place an online order because of the amount of packaging a company used
  • 25% were willing to pay more for sustainable packaging; this is something Ribble offer in all their packaging, 100% of which is recyclable.

With packaging innovation and on demand solutions, businesses can honestly tell their customers that they are reducing their:

  • Levels of waste
  • Carbon footprint
  • Use of plastic

At the same time, they are increasing the use of recyclable materials. This should have a positive impact on how they are seen and could increase sales.

Competitive Advantage

Finally, on demand packaging systems offer businesses a competitive edge. They are simple and inexpensive to run, increase productivity and reduce costs. And, because they are innovative and not widely used, they allow businesses to work in ways others in their market can’t. This is incredibly important when profit margins are tight, or markets are crowded. It provides a way for businesses to offer their customers a competitive price and a high level of service. Both of which should lead to increased sales and repeat orders.

Over time, because of the benefits that packaging innovation offers and customer demand for sustainable packaging, there is no doubt that on demand packaging will increase in popularity.  What better time, then, than now, to invest in a state-of-the-art product that could change the way you do business and your customers see you?

6 sites you need to visit for the latest packaging news

Packaging is integral to most people’s lives. This is true for every business that manufactures, transports, stores or sells goods. It also applies to every consumer looking to make a purchase. Without packaging, we couldn’t protect or preserve goods, which would make life pretty difficult. How we do this, however, is constantly changing, especially as consumers become more aware of the impact packaging can have on the environment. 

As a result, it is vital businesses stay on top of industry trends and government legislation. This ensures that the packaging they produce, and use, is fit for purpose and meets consumer demand.  The best way to do this is to keep an eye on packaging news, available through not only news outlets but specialist sites. Here we look at six of the key ones to visit for the latest packaging news;

Packaging News (https://www.packagingnews.co.uk/)

Packaging News is probably the best known and most read of all packaging trade publications on the market today. It’s a great source of information for business owners and directors. It’s also something those working across all business functions including sales, marketing and packaging technology should read. 

The site offers the latest packaging news, broken down by materials and markets as well as details of industry innovations, events, opportunities to network and job postings. In addition to the online site, readers can sign up for daily or weekly packaging news bulletins or subscribe to a monthly magazine. 

Readers should find it easy to navigate, with clear headers that direct them to areas of interest. Under each main heading (News, Materials, Markets, etc.) there are sub-headings, allowing them to drill down to areas of interest. They can bookmark news stories so they can be revisited at a later date. Readers can also share news stories via email and social media. There are also sections for hot topics and trending articles, making it easy to find the main packaging news stories.  

Packaging Today (http://www.packagingtoday.co.uk/)

Another great source of packaging news, Packaging Today, provides industry insights and a detailed look at innovations in packaging or changing working practices. It has over 10,000 visitors a month (and a further 30,000 readers through its print magazine); visitors come from across Europe, not just the UK.  It’s aimed at the industry as a whole, meaning owners, directors and other business functions will all find something useful in it. 

The site offer readers overviews of changes to government legislation through a White Papers section, as well as buyers guides and the chance to purchase used equipment. A monthly magazine (print or online) is available for an annual subscription. Readers can easily navigate across the pages, with plenty of links to take them back to the main news stories. This means it shouldn’t be difficult to keep abreast of the packaging news. Nor should it be difficult to understand what others in the industry are thinking thanks to a comments section. 

Packaging Europe (https://packagingeurope.com/)

For businesses who work not only in the UK but across the European Union, Packaging Europe is a good source of packaging news from the EU. Like Packaging News and Packaging Today, they are intended to reach a wide audience, meaning everyone, no matter what their role, should bookmark the site and visit it regularly.

Packaging Europe looks at innovation and industry news. It provides information on international events and offers networking opportunities. These are especially useful for those looking to build their business abroad. Information is broken down by sector, and a subscription is also available for a monthly print or online magazine.

There are a lot of similarities across all three of the packaging news websites in terms of layout, meaning readers can probably move easily between the three. However, Packaging Europe is probably the ‘cleanest’ of all the sites, with less advertising or banners. Their home page has featured packaging news stories and the latest news stories, which readers can scroll through. There is also a most-read section, letting readers know what others in the industry are particularly interested in.

The Confederation of Paper Industries (https://paper.org.uk/)

The Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) is one of the largest trade associations in the UK for the paper industry. They represent all paper-based industries, including packaging manufacturers. As well as representing and promoting the paper industry, they focus on the benefits of paper as a renewable resource. 

The CPI website shares industry news and information on legislative and regulatory changes from across the UK, EU and worldwide. It also has lots of facts and figures about the industry and an interesting ‘myth-busting’ section, which could be useful for sales and marketing teams. Membership is required to access some areas of the site, meaning it won’t be accessible to everyone working in the packaging sector. Because this is a trade association not a news site, there is not as much packaging news available as on other sites. However, the news it does share is relevant to most business functions.

The British Plastics Federation (https://www.bpf.co.uk/)

The British Plastics Federation (BPF) has represented the British plastic packaging industry since 1933. It has over 450 members across the supply chain (representing more than 80% of industry turnover). It aims to promote the sector and the views of its members. It also works to share innovation in the industry, including pilot projects and research. Members can attend events, offering the chance to network, and receive regular packaging news updates.

The BPF breaks its packaging news down into two sections; BPF-specific and industry-wide. Again, like the CPI site, the volume of news stories is lower than on the packaging news sites. However, there is plenty of useful information on the site, making it well worth a visit. Another area that may be of interest, especially given consumers increased demand for sustainable packaging, is the issues section. This looks at areas of interest to the industry, linking back to the latest news stories. These include marine waste, where packaging can be recycled, and the impact of Brexit on the packaging industry. 

Readers will find the site easy to work their way around, thanks to a simple drop-down menu. These have sub-headings, allowing visitors to drill down as needed. There is also a member-only area that has additional news and resources.  

Gov.uk (https://www.gov.uk/)

The UK government is responsible for packaging regulation. Responsibility is held across a number of different departments. For example, ‘Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations’ fall under the remit of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. Meanwhile, the ‘Broadly Equivalent Standards for Packaging and Equivalent Standards for WEEE’ sit with the Environment Agency. 

Searching Gov.uk is fairly simple on the face of it. There is a search bar at the top of the site and entering the word packaging, for example, brings up a broad range of topics. Readers can use these to search further to find what they are looking for. The downsides are that pages often suggest a number of other pages, including guidance, legislation, and government departments. This can make it easy to get ‘lost’ in a sea of information. Visitors also can’t set alerts for changes to pages, meaning they have to revisit the site regularly to look for updates.  

Not all businesses will find a benefit in the gov.uk website. All of the sites we’ve listed above, for example, will share any updates (or potential updates) to government legislation or regulations with their readers. However, this is a good site to visit to make sure nothing has been missed or to take the opportunity to comment on white papers that could affect the industry. Readers should just be wary of spending too long on the site; it may be a good idea only to visit to read about subjects in more detail after they’ve been seen on another packaging news site. 

Staying on top of packaging news

The packaging industry is constantly changing and coming up with new ways of packaging products. Therefore, it is vital that businesses stay on top of packaging news, allowing them to respond to consumer demand and take advantage of innovations that could impact their bottom line. 

The best way to do this is to regularly visit key sites that allow them to keep abreast of packaging news. As we’ve seen, there are a number of great packaging news sites available free of charge and news is also available through a range of trade associations. Packaging news sites cover a wide range of topics and are suitable for people working in all business functions and at all organisational levels. Trade association sites tend to be more targeted in their news. Subscriptions provide access to additional information and resources, but there are also free alerts and newsletters, meaning a financial outlay isn’t necessary. 

Wherever possible, owners, directors and key staff should sign up for alerts, newsletters and monthly magazines.  This way, companies can be certain they don’t miss out on packaging news that could affect their business. 

Sustainable Packaging: The Must-Have Of 2020

Thanks to shows such as David Attenborough’s Blue Planet and activists like Greta Thunberg, the British public has become acutely aware of the damage plastic packaging is doing to our planet.

It’s no surprise, then, that according to a 2018 European Consumer Packaging Perception Survey, 90% of UK shoppers want easily recyclable packaging. 88% also want to know where their packaging comes from.

Unfortunately, plastic packaging isn’t easy to recycle. Businesses produce 80 million tonnes of plastic packaging every year; only 30% is recycled. The type of plastic is critical here.  For example, dark coloured plastic is harder to recycle. Recycling plants also reject food packaging that contains too much food waste. In response to public concern over plastic, last year the UK government set a goal of eliminating plastic waste by 2042. To reach this, much more plastic must be recycled.

With countries such as China turning away plastic for recycling, however, these targets may be hard to meet.  As a result, we need other solutions to meet environmental objectives and consumer demand, which is why it is so vital for businesses to look at sustainable packaging.

What is sustainable packaging?

Sustainable packaging is packaging that has a reduced environmental impact. Generally, materials are recycled, biodegradable or reusable.  Examples include paper and cardboard as well as reusable plastic, or plastic that is biodegradable or made from plant products. In addition, companies can make packaging more sustainable by:

  • reducing the number of materials used
  • increasing fill-rates
  • using monomaterials (rather than laminates).  

Using sustainable packaging in a business

It’s no longer enough for a business to pay lip-service to environmental issues.  Nor is it to make promises they will make changes in the future. They need to act now, reflecting the values of today’s consumers and government legislation.

One of the main barriers to companies using sustainable packaging in the past has been price. There’s a belief that sustainability is expensive. However, this isn’t always the case. Changes to packaging design and engineering mean implementing sustainable packaging solutions is both possible and affordable. 

Remember, just because the packaging says it’s environmentally-friendly, doesn’t mean it is. So, as well as price, when looking to make the change to sustainable packaging, businesses should consider:

  • Ingredients: Does the packaging use 100% recycled materials, for example, or come from sustainable sources?
  • Production: What production methods are used? What is its carbon footprint, and what steps are in the supply chain? For example, there is much talk at the moment of bio-based plastics (also known as bio-plastics). Made from food crops such as corn and sugar cane, they seem like a good option and a great way to reduce the use of traditional plastic. However, some reports are now suggesting that their impact on the human food chain could be significant, leading to price increases or food shortages.
  • Recyclability: Can the packaging be recycled easily? Do local authorities accept it. Or, will customers have to source a specialist recycling centre (as they do not for products such as toothpaste tubes)?
  • Reusability: How many times can packaging be reused? This links into the circular economy, which is growing in popularity.

Where a business isn’t sure if the packaging is sustainable, they must ask questions and do their research, looking to organisations such as the Sustainable Packaging Coalition or Forest Stewardship Council for guidance if needed.

What is the circular economy?

One of the major areas of discussion when it comes to sustainable packaging is the circular economy, a term that describes returning packaging for reuse for its original purpose. Examples of this might be refillable packaging, which has been trialled by companies such as Unilever, and means the packaging is used multiple times. Another example is seen in the rise of zero waste or zero packaging stores, which ask customers to bring their own containers.

This isn’t a new idea (milk was once delivered by a milkman, for example, and bottles returned). Instead, it is one coming back into favour. It has been successful with beauty products, personal care, and dried food goods. As the idea gains traction, businesses should think about how to use the circular economy for secondary packaging. This is packaging used to pack and move goods before they hit the shelves.

Packaging design

As big-name brands become more focused on sustainable packaging, consumers are seeing lots of different designs enter the market. Some of these are incredibly creative. H&M, for example, has created a bag that converts into a clothes hanger, making the bag reusable and removing the need for a plastic hanger. Plus, the bag contains 80% recycled materials, somethings shoppers want to see.

In creating a convertible bag, H&M are appealing to their target shopper, younger people aged 18 to 35. The 2018 European Consumer Packaging Perception Survey found over 50% of shoppers in this age group considered packaging when making a buying decision. With their bag, H&M is hoping to build brand loyalty as well as reduce their impact on the environment.

When a business is considering what type of sustainable packaging they want to use, they should think about their audience as well as the product being packaged. For example, Biotka produces soy candles. Their customers are looking for natural products that don’t harm the environment. Biotka has reflected this by making their packaging from recycled material and using a minimalist design.

And, as with H&M, businesses should think creatively, giving their customers something more than the product they’re buying. For example, Monday’s Child sells children’s clothing. Customers can reuse their clothing boxes as they convert into dolls houses. UAU is another company who use their packaging creatively. UAU produce 3D art. Their delivery boxes are designed to be used as display stands.

Making a move to sustainable packaging

When a business moves to sustainable packaging, it can be tempting to do so all at once. This isn’t always the answer, however, as it can be disruptive. Businesses must remember to:

  • Make the change gradually, especially if a business has a lot of different products. 

Start with a single line, make the changes and look at how well these work. Then move onto the next line.

  • Use all existing packaging first.

It’s been paid for and to not use it costs money.

It’s much better to do both at once rather than one at a time, which can be more costly and time-consuming.

  • Do research, ask questions, and order samples. 

This way, a business will know what they are buying and how likely it is to work for their product line. Business could also do a test run of packaging too, sending it out to some customers and asking for feedback before making a final decision.

  • Look at how the new packaging impacts the bottom line. 

This may lead to increased costs, which could be passed on to the consumer. A business must understand if their customers will be willing to pay for any increase.

  • Let customers know how sustainable their packaging is. 

Consumers are a key driver for businesses to use sustainable packaging, so don’t be afraid to let them know what’s been done. At the same time, customers may become more aware of a product’s environmental credentials if it comes in sustainable packaging. It is worth, therefore, looking at the products themselves and see how green they are and whether they can be made any more eco-friendly.

Finally, speak to experts in packaging design and development. They can help businesses understand what types of sustainable packaging will work for them. They can develop prototypes and samples and act as a sounding board for a company’s more creative ideas.

The future of packaging

With the shift in consumer focus to more environmentally friendly products and the move by governments around the world to reduce the amount of single-use plastic that ends up as waste, companies can’t afford to not invest in sustainable packaging.

With innovations in packaging design and engineering, this is now more affordable than ever. Which means businesses don’t have any excuse for not making the change. That said, they need to make that change carefully. They need to understand their audience and what they want to see in packaging. And they need to understand the best solutions out there for their business and the products they want to package and ship.

Thinking outside the box could be essential here, which means talking to industry experts to make sure the sustainable packaging a business buys meets their needs. This will also allow them to understand new development in packaging, meaning they can stay ahead of their competition when it comes to sustainability. This, in turn, can lead to increased loyalty from existing customers. In addition, it opens up a potential new customer base of consumers who want to reduce their environmental impact act much as possible.

The Manufacturer’s Guide To Packaging Paintings And Wall Art

Over the last ten years, the UK has experienced rapid growth in online sales. Clothes and household items aren’t all people are buying. Today, people are buying anything and everything online, including paintings and wall art. 

Some of the most difficult items to pack are paintings and wall art, especially if they are framed. Framed artwork and pictures don’t fit usual packing standards, meaning they need special care and attention when shipping. The frames themselves, for example, are often large yet flimsy. Glass covers a large percentage of paintings, and the artwork itself is at risk of damage from the wrong type of packaging or glass breaking.  

Here we look at how best to package paintings and wall art for shipping. First, though, we’ll look at what to avoid with painting packaging. 

What not to do when packaging paintings and wall art

When packaging paintings and wall art, it’s a good idea to avoid:

  • Using packing materials that can scratch glass or leave marks on the canvas. A perfect example of this is newspaper, which a lot of sites recommended using as additional packaging. Another is parchment paper, which can scratch glass. 
  • Using Styrofoam peanuts as additional packaging. While these might seem a good option, they can break down in transit, especially with heavier frames. These small pieces can lodge between the frame and glass. More environmentally-friendly options, such as corn starch peanuts, also breakdown under pressure. They can also turn to ‘glue’ with moisture, causing damage to paintings. 
  • Shipping loose canvases with their frame. It is much better to roll up the canvas and ship it separately. 

Packaging paintings correctly

While every painting and piece of artwork is different, these steps will help make sure they are packaged correctly.

  1. Place the painting on a flat surface when preparing it for shipping. The surface should be stable and bigger than the painting itself.
  2. Use masking tape to mark an X across any glass frame. This will help keep the glass in place during shipping. It also protects the artwork if the glass breaks in transit. 
  3. Use thick card as a cover where there isn’t a glass frame. The card or cardboard should cover the painting, not the frame. Alternatives to card and cardboard include foam or felt. Avoid bubble wrap touching the artwork directly as this could cause static, which can damage a painting. 
  4. Use bubble wrap to cover the painting and the frame. Use at least two layers, one horizontally and one vertically, which will keep the painting more secure in transit. Secure the bubble wrap with masking tape at the back of the painting, holding it in place. 
  5. Choose the right sized box for the frame being shipped. If it is too large, it could move in transit, damaging the painting. Use additional packaging such as brown paper If there is space once the frame is in the box to avoid it moving in transit.  
  6. For extra-large frames (those more than 30 inches high/wide) use a telescopic box. Telescopic boxes extend to fit the frame. Alternatively, use two boxes or use cardboard cut to the size of the frame. Make sure the cardboard is thick enough to protect the painting in transit.
  7. Once the frame is in the box, lift and move the package to see if it moves in transit. If it does, add additional packaging. 
  8. Seal the edges with packing tape. Use enough tape to make sure the seals won’t open during transit. 
  9. Mark the package FRAGILE. Place labels where they can be easily seen. If needed, use more than one.
  10. Choose the right shipping method. Ideally, this will be a courier, one who specialises in shipping artwork and who understands how to handle fragile packages. If the painting is expensive or an antique, make sure it is properly insured so that if it is damaged the business, and the customer, are protected. 

Packaging Sizes

Of all of these, getting the right size box is probably the most important step, yet the one most often ignored. There is a temptation for businesses to order boxes in bulk to cut costs and then try and make the frames fit. Using packaging that is too large for the frame, however, is putting the painting at risk, something that should be avoided at all costs. 

Fortunately, there are now lots of options available to ensure you have the right-sized boxes. You can ask a box manufacturer to deliver custom-sized boxes for your products. Alternatively, you can invest in a packaging machine, which will create a box to the right size of each individual product you plan to ship. 

 

Frame Packaging: Get Your Contents Safely to Your Customer

According to recent figures released by the UK government, over 50% of consumers shop online some or all the time. It’s a trend that looks set to continue. For online businesses, this is excellent news, as long as they can attract those consumers and then turn them into loyal customers. 

One of the best ways to do this is to make sure that the products they sell offer value for money. Another is to make sure that these goods arrive at their destination undamaged. For this to happen, a business needs to use the right packaging for their products, especially if those products are fragile. 

There are few things more fragile than frames, whether these contain a piece of art or have a future displaying treasured family photos. Depending on their size and construction, the frames themselves can be thin (making them easily breakable). Plus, the glass itself can shatter if not adequately protected. 

What, though, is the best way to package a frame? Here, we look at the frame packaging steps to take to make sure frames are packaged properly so that they arrive at their destination damage-free.

Supplies

The first thing any business needs to do is to make sure they have the right types of frame packaging for the items they want to ship. This means boxes that are the right size – they need to fit around the frames securely. It also means supplies to package up the frame itself. These include packaging tape, labels, recycled brown packing paper and other eco-friendly packaging options such as cardboard, paper, shredded paper or even popcorn. 

Using The Right Sized Box

While it might be tempting to try and save money by ordering boxes in bulk then making them fit the frame, this isn’t a good idea. Choosing a box that’s too big, for example, and filling it full of additional packaging such as Styrofoam peanuts, can see it shift in transit. As a result, it could end up damaged, meaning a refund or returned order. Furthermore, customers now prioritise green packaging solutions and do not want to see wasteful unrecyclable products such as Styrofoam

It is much better to find boxes that fit the frames, even if this means ordering smaller quantities. The good news here is that are box manufacturers who specialise in boxes designed for shipping frames. Alternatively, you can opt for a Box on Demand service which creates the right-sized box for every item you want to ship. You can also break down an existing box and resize it for the frame if specialist packaging isn’t available. 

Protecting Glass

Most frames include a glass sheet that protects the contents once it’s on the wall. To protect the glass until it’s ready for hanging, use masking tape to place an X across it. This can stop it from moving during shipping. Plus, if it does shatter, it stops it breaking into smaller pieces.

Protecting Artwork

Where artwork isn’t covered by glass it still needs protection from damage. The best way to do this is to use a wrap around the frame and over (but not touching) the art.  Commercial wrapping (often made from paper or plastic) is available for shipping purposes. It may be called pallet wrap. You can also find plastic-alternative wrapping that is usually made from corn starch if you want your packaging to be green.

Additional Packaging

It’s best to use the right size frame packaging. However, if the box isn’t an exact fit, you may need to provide extra protection. Use at least two layers of additional packaging. Wrap one layer around the frame lengthwise and one around the frame width-wise. This means it’s less likely to shift in transit. Something else worth thinking about are corner protectors, which should help hold the frame securely in place.

Check For Movement

Before sealing up the box, it’s a good idea to test the package for shipment. However, once a company has a process for frame packaging that works, this won’t be needed. Close the box and lift it, lay it flat and then turn it over. Then reopen the box to check whether there has been any movement. If there isn’t, it’s good to go. If there is, adjust the packaging to reduce the risk of damage to the frame. 

Final Packaging

Seal frame packaging securely before shipping it (the same as any other packaging). Make sure to close all seams, covering them with packing tape. It’s important to avoid any gaps or openings. Add a label that clearly shows the name and address of the recipient. Include any shipping instructions on the label.  Most important of these is marking the package FRAGILE. Use FRAGILE stickers (rather than writing the word) to look professional. Place them in key locations where they will be easily seen. 

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