Andy Barnetson, Director of Packaging Affairs for the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI), explains why, in eco issues, corrugate is king…
Doing more with less is a watchword for the Corrugated Industry and is behind the significant strides it is taking to help streamline logistics operations for retailers, as well as delivering the supply chain with a highly functional solution that enables improved product marketing and presentation.
The Corrugated Industry, which protects around 75% of goods in transit, is helping retailers make savings in the supply chain and cut their carbon footprint by developing packaging solutions that maximise storage and reduce transport costs. Investments in papermaking technology and manufacturing techniques have improved the strength characteristics of corrugated board, providing versatile packaging which not only has the required stacking strength but also product protection in the supply chain, shelf appeal and space efficiency.
This focus on maximising space has resulted in innovation and technological advances in structural design which have seen a typical reduction in paper weight for a medium fluting grade of 21% over the period 2008 – 2015 without affecting the stacking strength. These efficiencies are set to continue as processes in paper production are improved still further.
Embracing the latest technologies and the introduction of new grades enables significant optimisation, while further
advances involve improving secondary packs for more efficient palletisation, which can help manufacturers better utilise lorry and storage space. Boxes need to be designed to fill lorries from floor to roof. Corrugated can adapt itself to product after product – no other packaging material has this flexibility, which can help businesses maximise their supply chain efficiencies.
Logistics professionals will welcome savings in the supply cycle through eco-efficient solutions that maximise storage and can reduce transport costs. In addition to its structural advantages, corrugated packaging has superb environmental credentials – more than 80% is recycled every year. However, we are not complacent; renowned for innovation, corrugated will continue to explore ways of reducing the carbon footprint of its products further still. It sets a benchmark for versatility, making it the ideal packaging material for fulfilling the varied expectations of logistics partners. Papers are stronger and lighter than ever before, and optimising material use for pallets can also make significant space savings. Structural design modifications to minimise stress on the packs when being stacked, lifted and carried are rigorously tested.
Pressure on suppliers to deliver eco-friendly packaging is helping to drive the trend towards sustainable business practices as consumers become more aware than ever of the environmental impact of goods. Well-designed packaging is the best way to protect food and drink from being damaged or spoiled.
Spoilage bacteria impacts on the shelf life of food items like fruit and vegetables. Research carried out by the University of Bologna confirms that corrugated trays keep fruit fresher for longer than reusable plastic crates (RPC) and can significantly reduce contamination from pathogenic and micro-organisms. The study, commissioned by the European Federation of Corrugated Board Manufacturers (FEFCO), found that corrugated trays offered the most effective hygienic solution for reducing microbial cross contamination during delivery of fresh produce and can extend the shelf life by up to three more days, compared to plastic trays.
FROM BOTTLE TO BOX
There is a certain compromise that has to take place, so part of the Corrugated Industry’s approach is to consider the whole supply chain, using the technologies available to make the units the best possible fit for both pallet and shelf.
A case in point was when award-winning Accolade Wines decided to move away from a conventional standard ‘one
size fits all’ secondary packaging for its six-packs of 75ml bottles of wine, to a box with high-quality graphics which clearly reflects the premium, commercial and value brands on offer to customers. The redesign of the packaging included developing glossy cartons to reflect the different tiers of value offering, with a single bottle image added to the side panel. In addition, the corrugated supplier also ensured the packaging could withstand the rigours of being transported long distances and still arrive on shelves in pristine condition.
Not only does corrugated offer significant space savings for the entire supply chain, the research for FEFCO reinforces the message that the UK Corrugated Industry has been telling retailers – that corrugated packaging is the best solution for keeping products safer for longer.
Corrugated packaging is a safe solution for the hygienic delivery of food because of the very high temperatures in the manufacturing process and the fact that corrugated packaging is used only once before being recycled, thereby offering reassurance that bacterial infections will not be spread.
High-quality presentational characteristics and the protection corrugated offers goods in transit make it an essential partner for logistics managers, who can take advantage of this extremely space-efficient packaging to make better use of pallets, resulting in fewer vehicles on the road.