If you follow my website blogs, read my articles on LinkedIn, or have a copy of my book ‘Biznanigans’ (yep, that was a shameless plug) you probably get the hunch I am not afraid of writing. Short of being a quality control tester in a combination winery and hammock factory, writing would be an excellent top choice as a second career for me. I do have one challenge when it comes to writing though. I don’t know everything. I haven’t known everything since I have been twenty years old and have known less progressively every year since my twentieth birthday has passed.
As a cargo insurance and freight risk provider (nerd) I have seen great progress over the years with packaging and dunnage. Ongoing advances in packaging and securement means a reduction in claims. Fewer claims translate to happier everybody, so I wanted to write about it. I ran into one handicap though. I don’t know even near everything there is to know on the subject of packaging. To overcome my handicap I had two choices. First was to learn everything thing there is to know about packaging. Second was to sponge off of someone else who does. Since I am committed to having less knowledge every year learning more would be counterproductive to the effort, thus I went into sponge mode.
Our expert on packaging is Mr. Cory Levins. Cory agreed to write a little something on advances in packaging which we hope will be the first of several. I now relinquish the white space to Cory.
The Future of Eco-Friendly Packaging and Modern Materials
When you order a product and receive it, it usually comes in some form of packaging. It might come wrapped up in paper, it might come in a cardboard box that is stuffed with Styrofoam pellets, and it could come in many other ways. You might not think much of the packaging as you dispose of it into the trashcan and enjoy what you have purchased. After all, how could packaging possibly be harmful? (Thanks to http://www.catholiclane.com for the photo)
Unfortunately, the packaging industry is one of the biggest contributors to our waste problem. Even if some of the packaging is recycled, a portion of it cannot be properly recycled and this leads to further problems down the road. This leads to more energy wasted in the form of having to process the packaging that is thrown away.
In the modern era, there are regulations, corporate standards, and an increasing number of consumers who are getting behind the “green movement” – purchasing products that are packaged and disposed of in an environmentally friendly way.
Indeed, there are many more benefits to eco-friendly packaging than an outreach to a few new customers. In addition to the fact that eco-friendly packaging takes less energy to produce, it also breaks down far more easily and does not contribute to the current landfill waste problem. Your waste removal bill will be much smaller, and you will be able to find other ways to increase revenue.
Perhaps it will cost less to produce each individual unit, resulting in an increased profit margin without having to make your product more expensive. Once you are able to see a single benefit pop up, many more will come your way.
One of the great things about the future of eco-friendly packaging is that there are many creative approaches being made toward solving our current waste problem. Did you know that there are individuals and companies working on the creation of edible films? In the food packaging industry, there are many delicacies that come with some form of packaging. If you have ever eaten a cupcake, you know that you must dispose of the messy film that covers the bottom half. What if you no longer had to search for a trashcan?
With the use of edible film, you can simply eat the film and not have to worry about throwing it out. It would be a perfectly safe thing to eat, and you could even alter the properties of the film to make it enjoyable to eat. The edible film would be as good as, if not superior to, current food packaging solutions when it comes to improving the shelf life of food.
This concept can be applied to other food groups like candies, meats, seafood, and even paper liners for those who enjoy baking. If we get to eat our “waste,” imagine how much we can drastically reduce the amount of plastic waste we dispose of!
Thanks to many of the advancements that have been made into the research behind eco-friendly packaging, we now have a wide variety of biodegradable options to choose from. Have you ever used bubble wrap to package an item before? In addition to the benefit that you get from popping each bubble, there are variations made from recycled polyethylene that are far easier to recycle and dispose of.
With that being said, there are current challenges that have not been solved yet. One such problem involves customized packaging for special client orders, and these types of orders are complex in scope. There are several machines involved, along with the incorporation of several textures. The problem arises because these custom packaging solutions take an enormous amount of energy to create, and the net effect is that more waste is released into the environment.
Even though the solutions to this problem are environmentally friendly, this is not sufficient. DuPont’s expert advice correctly mentions that certain criteria must be met for this packaging to be practical and sustainable as a replacement for traditional packaging options. The material needs to be tough and resilient in its build to protect the products that are being delivered.
At the same time, it must be light enough so that transportation and distribution can become a much more efficient process. Finally, renewability and recyclability must be built in as part of the lifecycle management of the packaging in question. These are high standards to shoot for, but such is the price of innovation in the packaging industry.
Those companies that are not on the forefront of innovation can still do their part in several ways. As an example, they can promote spill prevention and cleanup productsthat help account for emergency situations where the packaging for a liquid or dangerous chemical happens to start leaking. They can also re-invent their current product line to better reflect the environmental standards that they are hoping to meet one day.
Cory Levins serves as the Director of Business Development for Air Sea Containers. Cory oversees the development and implementation of ASC’s internal and external marketing program, driving revenue and profits from the Miami FL headquarters.
Before joining Air Sea Containers, Cory Levins was the Director of Business Development for Marketing and Real Estate Lending Companies.
Cory enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, sports, and the ocean.