Protective packaging is like that friend who always has your back. It lends a hand, cushions the blow and even makes sure you get where you are going, safely. The protective packaging industry is growing at a CAGR of 4.48% over the period 2014-2019, according to Research and Markets (researchandmarkets.com). One major reason for the growth is due to increased usage in the online shopping industry, especially as we enter the holiday season.
A major trend emerging in the market is an increased investment in research and development to create environmentally friendly and sustainable packaging materials. Vendors are investing in innovative technologies to develop packaging materials that can be recycled and reused.
ACH Foam Technologies (achfoam.com) has relaunched its recyclable, universal wine shippers with a series of packaging improvements. The new shippers are designed to help wineries, wine distributors, retailers and consumers package and ship wine for an undamaged arrival.
The new shippers secure up to 12 bottles with an innovative tightening system that minimizes movement during the shipping process. The improved packaging is now even sturdier thanks to enhanced bottom cushioning and increased wall thickness, to ensure the most secure shipping. The new wine shippers have passed the ISTA’s 3A drop test, which measures the product’s ability to sustain a variety of simulated drops consistent with typical package transport and handling.
From a sustainability standpoint, the rigid foam shippers, manufactured from expanded polystyrene (EPS), compare favorably against the molded pulp packaging solutions that are most commonly used. While both EPS and molded pulp packaging are recyclable, in a continual process of use and reuse, over time the fibers used to create molded pulp products eventually become too short to be reused, while EPS can be recycled as long as the product is returned to the manufacturing stream. Studies have also shown that pulp and paper manufacturers are the fourth largest industrial emitters of greenhouse gas.
In addition to ACH Foam Technologies’ universal standup wine shippers, the company also manufactures summer standup wine shippers, specifically designed to keep wine at a constant temperature for approximately 72 hours, a must for shipping in hot summer months. Tested to meet ISTA 7E temperature standards, the EPS units are contained within an outer corrugated box that utilizes specially designed pockets that hold frozen gel refrigerants that allow internal airflow to support a constant temperature during shipping. Both types of shippers are available in 2, 6 and 12 bottle kitted systems that include the foam base and lid, and corrugated box. ACH recycles 100% of its post-industrial EPS and is actively involved in recycling post-consumer EPS.
Another company has made improvements to its product to ensure safer shipping. Storopack (storopack.us), the specialist in protective packaging out of Germany, introduces an improved version of its FOAMplus® Bagpacker packaging system to the market: the FOAMplus® Bagpacker². It is an on-demand foam-in-bag system designed to protect sensitive goods during shipping.
Storopack’s FOAMplus foam cushions flexibly adapt to the goods to be packaged and are suitable for shipping sensitive items of all sizes and weight. The two-component foam packaging protects shipped items and each package can be customized for the best possible protection. The Bagpacker² foam cushions are produced by the packer using a foam-in-bag system, whereby a film pouch is filled with dispensed foam.
Improvements to the system include better functional elements and more advanced technology. Storopack has replaced the hydraulic unit with a modern electric drive. The new sealing unit closes the bag with enhanced reliability, ensuring that the foam and product are more effectively separated. Through the use of a barcode and programmable process sequences, the system ensures high-level reliability and cost transparency. The machine is equipped with a new 10-inch display featuring several additional functions. It’s available as a table model or a stand-alone unit with adjustable height.
Automated Packaging Systems (airpouch.com), introduces its new AirPouch® Pillow Separator, designed to work with the AirPouch Express 3™ void-fill protective packaging system. This new pillow separator increases productivity by automatically dispensing just the right amount of pillows for faster packing. The separator includes an operator-friendly HMI control panel to pre-set the desired amount of pillows needed. The system automatically counts and separates void-fill air pillows that are inflated on demand. This allows the operator to focus on packing instead of counting, which improves yield while reducing fatigue and human error.
This innovative new pillow separator runs at speeds up to 200 feet per minute and is ideal for high-volume packing operations. There are three operational modes that enable the most effective processing. The unit includes a variable height stand with angle adjustments for maximum operator comfort and efficient packing.
“The combination of inflate-on-demand protective packaging with automatic pillow separation creates an optimized system for the highest productivity in void-fill packaging,” says Chris Rempe, director of product management. “The pillow separator can be used to supply single or multiple packaging stations.”
Automated Packaging Systems offers several eco-friendly pillows such as the EarthAware Recycled EZ-Tear pillows, made from 95% pre-consumer recycled content and the EarthAware Biodegradable EZ-Tear pillows, that biodegrade when in contact with other biodegradable materials.
Today’s protective packaging lends a hand and stands up to threats, ensuring an item’s safe arrival. New machinery in the segment makes shipping more reliable and efficient. After all, it isn’t the destination but the journey, and protective packaging is there to help along the way.