British Bird Food is an online supplier of wild bird food with a difference –it asks customers to return the packaging for reuse. Now on the face of it that doesn’t seem too unrealistic, but in practice there are several hurdles that have to be jumped to get it right.

Since it first started supplying bird food in returnable packaging British Bird Food (BBF), has tried several different types of bag with grip-seal closures. The company knew about Elliott Packaging because Elliott had supplied BBF with resealable bags for their local market some three years previously and the bags had proven to be very reliable for the job.

BBF had found that customers wanted to get in on the reusable side as opposed to the more common recycling system for two reasons:
  1. They are “doing their bit” for environmentally friendly packaging, and

  2. The return system is easy and convenient for them. A free post address label is supplied with the order and the customer simply encloses the bags inside one of the bags and applies the label and sends through the mail.
The problems came when BBF started to grow and needed larger quantities of bags. It found that on the open market the grip seal bags are standard in dimensions, but that is where the reliability ended. Every time they purchased, the batch that arrived would be different from the previous one. The (5Kg) filled bags are packed in corrugated boxes and are sent through the courier system; the boxes need to withstand rough handling. BBF found the side welds were unreliable and the grip seals became undone.

BBF contacted Nick Elliott of Elliott Packaging and offered him the challenge: Could it produce a bag that had indestructible side welds and grip seals that are consistently strong enough to take the pressure of 5 Kg of wild bird seed? Nick had some experience of the problem with another customer who wanted to reseal with a tough seal, so a trial was conducted to see if the new type of grip seals would measure up.

Nick observes that “the new grip seals are different from the standard type because they have a hook that, when inserted into the rails on the opposite side of the bag, the seal actually becomes stronger as more internal pressure is applied. BBF conducted tests and the trial bags have now gone through the system with good results. We have now gone to a full scale supply and feedback so far has been excellent.”

In conclusion, David Baxter of British Bird Food comments “we had a real problem and, having tried to solve it with an ‘off the shelf’ solution, we are pleased we contacted Nick and his team at Elliott Packaging. They not only had a solution, but were very responsive and excellent communicators. We were confident we were with the right people. With the bags sorted out, we can get on with our busy season, safe in the knowledge that the customers we serve will be presented with a reliable, environmentally friendly bag that can be re-used several times for different customers.”