Retailers Opt for Plastic for Greater Efficiency
17 Jun 2016
Efficient packaging was once just required to find the sweet spot between cost and waste.
Now it has to meet a whole new raft of criteria, including ease of use, speed, safety and strength, all while leaving a minimal impact on the environment. Packaging must dependably maintain the pristine condition of goods in transit while assuring customers of its green credentials.
Online shopping has also triggered an array of challenges requiring flexible solutions. Consumers now judge brands by how green they are, so over-packaging is out and many purchasers expect the packaging they do receive to be environmentally friendly.
Responsible packaging requires a holistic approach, including selective choice of materials for elements such as outer-case packaging and void-fill products.
Plastic has suffered unnecessarily from an image problem, even though it is light, waterproof and can be recycled, up-cycled and reused. The innovation possible with plastic can lead to greater sustainability.
Convenient and Weatherproof
Compared with wood, plastic is a more efficient packaging material. Along with endless versatility, plastic provides better protection in wet conditions and can be cleaned easily.
Weighing less than timber, plastic requires less energy for shipping and saves money on fuel costs. As reusable plastic pallets can be folded down, they take up less storage space.
Packaging needs to resist damage in transit and provide security.
With goods returns a significant factor in online retail, packaging must be strong with the potential for reassembly, and plastic has the flexibility to deliver here too. Plastic pallet wrap adds stability in shipping large volumes of a product, along with weather protection.
Effective packaging is now working harder and may be used in different ways, such as when a shipping container can go straight to the shelf.
Plastic pallets have undergone rapid changes, with developments including more effective fire retardants and features to facilitate sanitation and preserve food hygiene. Nestable plastic pallets were once thought of as disposable, but now there are versions that can be used for both stock transfer and retail display.
Industry observers are watching the evolution of packaging that can routinely be used as part of the transport process and then in-store. Designing plastic boxes that are equally suitable for shipping and point-of -sale display requires a fine balance between form and function, but the result is cost-effective and green.
For relatively low-cost online purchases, such as groceries, cost and speed are vital considerations in packaging.
A client such as a supermarket can opt for a system where goods are selected, bagged and then placed in plastic boxes used for delivery, keeping the process lean and reducing handling time. Figures indicate that in 2015 the number of online purchase parcel deliveries increased by more than 15 per cent.
That’s a big demand for cartons and pallet wrap, and it means that adaptable forms of packaging are more important than ever.