Sustainability initiatives should herald an opportunity not just to do something good for the environment, but also to do something good for your business. With improved sustainability comes improved efficiency, and thus profitability.
Well, at least that’s the theory. The reality is a little more complicated; and an increasing awareness of the downstream “net impact” costs of certain positive sustainability measures are beginning to muddy the once clear waters.
Sustainability is a topic that cannot be avoided. Wider societal concerns with environmental issues, governmental regulations, and hard-nosed cost efficiency considerations all combine to make sustainability drives an economically advantageous business policy worth pursuing.
But leveraging cost efficiency and savings means making the entire supply chain network work in a sustainable manner. One piece of the supply chain that is often overlooked is stretch wrapping.
Stretch Wrapping: the importance of containment force
Measures can be taken to reduce product wastage within the warehouse. We’ve talked about the role stretch wrapping plays in PET bottle sustainability efforts, but that is not the only industry looking to stretch wrapping as a way to bolster a greater sustainability plan. A key to effectively using stretch wrapping for sustainability is to ensure you are using the right containment force per load.
Wrapping pallets with the right containment force will help cut down on wasted film, damaged products, and is probably the single best way to ensure your stretch wrapping practices are in line with sustainability efforts.
Monitor & Measure
A lot of the time, making common-sense changes to your packaging strategy will yield sustainability improvements. Using less where you once used more is surely an easy metric to gauge; but as with many things in business and in life, the real-world implications of our actions are not always so easy to measure.
The best place to start is always ensuring adequate containment force is on every load. That’s the key stretch wrapping metric. There’s a wrap force/film layer trade-off. The goal is to get the most containment force at the lowest film cost. Many, many film quality, gauge, pre-stretch levels, wrap force, and film layer combinations are possible. You can’t really measure the results until the products arrive at their destinations though.
Through monitoring, qualitative calculations can be made to track efficiency savings, and provides solid feedback when comparing the performance of different film types. All too often, the designers and proponents of thinner or down gauged packaging materials overlook the entire product journey and see a net increase in shipping damage – they rob Peter to pay Paul. Because this damage happens after the products ship, the people who shipped them are often unaware of it because they don’t see it and there a few effective feedback loops.
Reducing shipping damage that results from ineffective stretch wrapping is one of the main goals of our blog, out marketing, and our sales training efforts.
The bigger picture
A whole host of measures can be implemented as part of your sustainability initiative, it is important to ensure you are choosing measure that make sense for your operation.
By using an approach that respects the integrity of the entire supply chain, and takes into account all aspects of the packaging and shipping, you can begin to really address the factors that need to be resolved to reach these goals.
Ultimately, satisfying customer demand is all that counts. Sustainability is a big part of that demand, and, as such, it is worth considering and planning for.
You may be interested in these other posts about CPG Sustainability:
- The dirty secret of CPG sustainability - do you know where the bodies are buried?
- Eliminate the Muda: The 7 Types of Waste in Lean Manufacturing
This post was published on August 22, 2016 and updated on November 28, 2018.