When we talk about sustainability with respect to plastics, the concept often meets skepticism. After all, most people think, “how can plastics be sustainable?” However, these assumptions relative to environmental impact are not accurate. Sustainability is a process, not a goal, and there are many difficult decisions to make during that process.
According to a study completed by Franklin Associates in January 2014, the impact of plastics packaging on life cycle energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions shows that plastics are leading the way for reducing these emissions and energy use. This is when compared to other materials including glass and paperboard. The study concluded that using alternative packaging in the U.S. other than the plastics researched in the study (shrink, stretch, caps and beverage containers, rigid, bagging) would actually increase energy usage by 80 percent, and the impact of greenhouse gas emissions would be 130 percent higher!
What is remarkable, is that beyond this study, flexible films packaging can greatly reduce freight costs as well as the impact of shipping on the environment. For example, one skid of a product using shrink over-wrap can replace 40 skids of corrugated. What we can do to help the environment is to move to more sustainable packaging material.
Strategies to Improve Shrink Package Sustainability
- Achieve Meaningful Source Reduction and Savings with Thin-Gauge Films
Using thin gauge films provides down-gauging opportunities for packages using 50-60-gauge polyolefin or heavy-gauge polyethylene shrink film. These films use up to 50% less material than heavier polyethylene while delivering superior productivity and aesthetics. Some packages are NOT suited to thin-gauge shrink film, but many times you can reduce materials by up to 25% (and save 20% or more in cost) by down-gauging 60-gauge applications to 50- or 45-gauge options.
- Eliminate PVC Shrink Films with Polyolefin Films
PVC replacement is currently a corporate packaging initiative at many large CPG and retail organizations. Switch from PVC to polyolefin films, which are competitively priced, chemically inert films that can run on existing PVC equipment. These films eliminate concerns over chloride, a toxic substance. Unlike PVC, they won’t emit fumes in the manufacturing process, corrode equipment or deteriorate into harmful components when landfilled.
- Reduce Secondary Packaging with Printed Shrink Film
Packaging multi-packs? Use colorful printed shrink film to eliminate trays or labels. You’ll achieve as much as 60% reduction in packaging materials. * Plus, you could enjoy labor savings anywhere from 30%-50%. Why? Shrink wrapping takes less energy to manufacture, and shrink wrap uses less material per pallet. More packs per pallet means there are fewer pallets shipped with shrink film. This in turn results in lower fuel costs for transporting since there is a reduction in forklift operation and manual labor. *Figures derived from recent commercial packaging applications.
- Use a High-Abuse Film to Reduce Corrugate and Other Packaging Materials
Ultra-strong, high-abuse, clear display film is ideal for replacing corrugate cartons, chipboard and heavy-gauge polyethylene. One roll can replace more than 600 corrugated cartons and replace about a pallet of knocked-down corrugate boxes at retail.
- Right-Size Your Roll Size and Packaging Widths
Traco offers many options to help you reduce waste material and lower your manufacturing impact. We offer custom roll packaging configurations that eliminate shipping materials, efficiency packs that reduce changeovers and allow you to use only the film you need.