3 Actionable Ways To Reduce Plastic Packaging
Posted on 11/07/2022
Single-use plastic is a seemingly vital aspect of every dispatch operation, from large-scale factory pallets to postal packaging. While the material is often relied upon in industrial packaging solutions, we find that businesses rarely optimise their plastic use.
Here at Bridge Johnson, we have helped businesses improve their packaging optimisation and reach their corporate goals for over a decade. Our team of packaging experts has worked with hundreds of businesses, assisting with reducing carbon emissions and packaging spend.
However, one of the questions we are most commonly asked is how to reduce plastic use. We're proud to be at the forefront of eco-friendly packaging materials, and strive to help dispatch operations become more sustainable.
Now that the UK plastic tax is impacting manufacturers and importers, raising prices in the supply chain and affecting profit, there's no better time to optimize your packaging. We touched on how re-evaluating your packaging can help negate this on our blog, and this week, we'll take a look at 3 simple actions you can take to reduce plastic waste.
1. Stop Using Excess Plastic Pallet Wrap
Using excess pallet wrap is a mistake we see time and time again, however, it is often a forgotten source of necessary plastic waste. Pallet wrap is a vital step in the packaging process of many businesses, as it is a reliable way to ensure load stability. Despite its popularity as an easy-to-apply packaging solution, using too much can result in wasted packaging materials.
There are several reasons why pallet wrap can be overused. We discussed the importance of choosing the right pallet wrapping machine on our blog, as it can directly impact your plastic use. Using the wrong settings can result in wasted plastic wrapping, and is unfortunately a common mistake.
Using a pallet wrap that isn't optimised for your application can cause breakages and punctures, which leads to throwing away far more waste and overcompensating with extra layers. Opting for a stretch wrap with a reduced plastic content is a low-risk and high-impact way to cut back on plastic overall.
Surge Film is a machine-applied wrap that cuts back on plastic use and the additional expenses it can cause. With an ultra-thin layered construction that doesn’t sacrifice puncture resistance, Surge Film cuts by plastic by an average of 43% and reduces film costs by 25%.
The results of Surge Film are fully supported by our audits and trials, in which we provide backup data and reports to keep the project moving. To book an on-site audit or implement Surge Film on a trial basis, get in touch with our team of packaging specialists. Or, complete our online audit for expert insight.
2. Adopt Recycled-Content Packaging Materials
The new UK plastic tax applies to packaging products that contain less than 30% recycled post-consumer content. There are several areas that won't negatively impact your packaging product performance, or present a contamination risk to your products. Pallet top sheets, for example, help protect palletised goods and cartons from dust or moisture.
Top sheets don't have to stretch or shrink during the application process (where quality issues most often occur) meaning our MegaTop range is a cost-effective option. While using them can help you avoid incurring extra costs from the plastic tax, recycled content isn't always to answer to avoiding cost increases.
Recycled resin feedstock is currently in short supply compared to virgin-grade feedstock. This means that even with the tax avoided, you may still pay overall for recycled content products in some cases. Instead, use recycled content packaging in conjunction with other options, such as products with reduced plastic or even paper alternatives.
Reducing the amount of plastic used in your packaging products can often be down through a process known as down-gauging. This is simply reducing the thickness of an item where there’s minimal or no quality impact. Products with unnecessary thickness are an often overlooked source of excess plastic usage, so down-gauging is a simple way to cut back.
3. Optimise Your Void Fill
Void fill serves as a simple way to block up unused space in cardboard cartons and cushion packaged goods. There is a myriad of options out there, so it's surprisingly easy to accidentally use a less-than-perfect form in your operation. Even with the optimum choice, overusing void fill is still a possibility.
One way to reduce your plastic use is to substitute pallet wrap for a paper void-fill or an air pillow machine. We offer air pillows in a range of options, including 50% recycled, compostable and differing sizes. This helps to ensure you can always use just the right amount of plastic and choose options exempt from the plastic tax.
Another way to ensure a consistent amount of void fill is used for every package is by investing in a void-fill machine. Whether you opt for a paper void fill dispensing machine or an air-pillow machine, they dispense a pre-set amount of voidfill per cycle - avoiding unnecessary wastage and plastics tax impact.