09 April 2019 News

Perfect Packaging...

Lessons from our packaging workshop

Impending legislation is forcing businesses to reconsider their choice of packaging. This presents an opportunity to investigate ways to improve your product delivery, as well as meeting your sustainability obligations. Could you raise the quality of your packaging? Might there be more economical despatch options?

At ILG we specialise in matching our clients’ packaging to their brand values, including some very high-quality packaging for our Fashion & Beauty clients. We recently invited clients to a workshop, where our packaging partner Lightning Packaging Supplies, together with its Bunzl stablemate Woodway UK, presented a range of products and packaging insight.

The outcome was a new way of thinking about packaging. These were the key takeaways from the event.

Why you need to think about your packaging

The rules on packaging are changing. The bad publicity about plastics – dubbed ‘the Attenborough effect’ after the TV naturalist’s influential campaigning against the dumping of plastic in the oceans – is being backed up by legislation, both in the UK and European Union, which will soon force businesses to find alternative ways to package their goods.

In addition, a lot of businesses are pursuing false economies by choosing cheap, stock options that may be cheaper to buy but actually cost more to despatch because they are bigger than necessary. While sustainability may be the driver forcing businesses to reconsider their packaging, it is a good time to find out whether you could be packaging your goods more efficiently.

What is the new packaging legislation?

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation will come into force in 2022, placing a financial responsibility on businesses, with a lump sum being charged for full net recovery of the waste they produce. The amount will vary depending on the material, percentage of recycled content, whether the packaging is functional, socially and environmentally acceptable/responsible and fit for use.

At the same time, the UK will introduce its pioneering Plastics Tax, with the aim of shifting demand towards the use of recycled material. While some plastics are less harmful and more recyclable than others, the Plastics Tax will not distinguish between different types of plastic. They will all be subject to the tax.

Whether or not the UK remains in the EU, the EU’s own Single Use Plastics Directive will inevitably affect businesses shipping goods to or from the EU. This directive will begin by focusing on the most common single use plastic items, like plastic straws and cutlery, but by 2025 the impact on all plastic items will be felt.

Alternatives to plastic

The new legislation will have a major impact on the choice of packaging, such as bubble wrap and plastic containers. Products such as Geami are offering a sustainable replacement for bubble wrap. Geami is a latticed paper product, which provides a cushioned layer of protection inside the package.

In place of solid plastic containers we are seeing a return to glass, which is more recyclable. This is interesting because glass is not insurable as a packaging item and has been avoided as a result, but new solutions are making glass a viable option again. And efficient, made-to-measure packaging will offer better protection for the glass contents.

So there are alternatives to plastic in all packaging applications and they provide a more pleasing unboxing experience than plastic and bubble wrap.

How to save cost without compromising quality

Among the key drivers behind packaging choice, security is placed above all else, followed by brand. In other words, vendors want their goods to arrive intact and give a good impression of their brand to customers. A common tendency is to choose a stock packaging product and then to make it secure by packing it with an abundance of padding to stop the product rattling around and getting damaged. This might solve the security problem but does it represent your brand?

By spending a bit more on the box and choosing packaging that is made to measure, you can not only enhance your brand perception, you can cut down on the need for padding, which in turn will reduce the volume of the package. So for a slightly bigger outlay on the box, you save money on the overall packaging and on the delivery cost, improve the unboxing experience and cut down on all that bubble wrap.

Key questions when choosing your packaging

While the natural tendency is to approach packaging with cost in mind, you will make a better choice if you shift your focus onto your company’s goals and the message you want to send to your customers. If the message is ‘quick and dirty’, then the packaging should reflect that. If the message is ‘ultra luxury’, you need to make a very different choice.

The next question is: What products are you distributing? How big are they? What do they weigh? How much protection do they need? This will determine the size of the package, the shape, the security (ie padding, waterproofing etc).

By asking these questions, you will be able to specify your requirements much more accurately, which will enable a much more efficient solution. Your supplier will then be able to advise you on a selection of choices that fit your purpose and meet sustainability requirements. The final choice will then be easy.

Packaging serves a greater purpose than just protecting your products in transit. It contributes to your brand values, adds to your customer experience and conveys your approach to sustainability. So it deserves serious thought – and we are always here to help you come to your decision.

If you would like to discuss outsourcing your fulfilment, call ILG today on 0203 280 6617.