Industrial packaging widely differs from consumer packaging in terms of shape, size, and functionality. The global industrial packaging market is a multi-billion-dollar market, driven by key industries such as chemicals, pharmaceuticals, lubricants, food and beverages, and construction industries. Industrial packaging often includes packaging to protect large parts or machinery, big cartons, corrugated boxes, plastic or fiber drums, protective films, wooden boxes, and specialized pallets. Industrial packaging functions as a protective barrier, controls release of hazardous materials, and provides information of content inside. It is essential that industrial packaging material be as lightweight as possible because any additional weight will add to the shipping, moving, and transportation costs.
Trends in the industrial packaging market
A majority of the manufacturing companies generate huge amounts of toxic and non-toxic waste. A significant part of such waste is composed of packaging waste. Such packaging waste can be easily avoided by using materials that are biodegradable or recyclable. Numerous legislations have called for increasing the 3Rs principle – reduce, reuse, and recycle in the industrial packaging market. Reusing the packaging material prolongs not only the product lifecycle but also decreases the overall packaging cost. Many industrial packaging items such as wooden boxes, fiber drums, and specialized pallets can easily be reused. Also, the recycling trend has been on the rise mostly in the steel industry, as many studies have proven the process to have a minimal environmental impact. The metal packaging industry is also increasing its effort to recycle the packaging material as metals can maintain strength through successive stages of recycling.
Optimal pack shape
The shape of the pack also plays a crucial role in determining the total logistics and distribution cost, as most freight companies calculate the shipping cost based on volumetric weight. Optimizing the pack shape to occupy minimal shape can save considerable costs in the volumetric weight calculation process. For instance, manufacturers are favoring the cubic shape instead of the cylindrical shape of steel or plastic drum due to savings in space. Also, rectangular-shaped rigid IBCs enables the containers to be packed closely together leaving fewer gaps and increasing the total amount of cargo that can be transported in a single trip.
Players in the industrial packaging market have been increasing their sustainability efforts to focus on downgauging or material reduction. Research teams have been continually improving the packaging performance despite using fewer materials. For instance, engineers have been able to reduce the overall weight of a plastic drum by about 70% compared to 1970s. Engineers have also been able to replicate similar weight reductions in steel drums. Also, advancements in technology have reduced the average weight of multiwall paper sacks used in construction industry without sacrificing performance or strength. Such act reduces the transportation and logistics cost and eases material handling as well.
The players in the industrial packaging market are continually struggling to maintain a balance between controlling packaging waste and creating packaging material that provide the required strength and performance. Such decision making becomes even more critical when they are dealing with hazardous materials. To ensure minimal waste, international bodies such as the United Nations are taking the matter into their own hands by publishing an Orange book on the transport of dangerous goods.
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