Appliances packaging is nowadays reaching a period of profound transformations. The rise of eCommerce, the importance of customer experience, and the need to use sustainable solutions have put a new meaning on what efficient, safe packaging means.
The need for efficient logistics, in fact, has also put a new focus on appliances packaging, which emerges as a solution to multiple issues in this field, including the economic optimization of the distribution cycle.
How has appliances packaging evolved?
Throughout history, the main packaging functions can be summarized as preserving, containing, transporting, and protecting the product inside.
In order to ensure safe and efficient transportation, human beings have experimented with different materials including clay, glass, canvas, paper, wood, or leather, all shaped into different containers, from pots to bags and barrels.
As the centuries passed, the appliances packaging field was always open to new inventions and discoveries: while tin and corrugated cardboard appeared in the 19th century, plastic prevailed during the 20th century.
Finally, at this moment in time, a new conscience around sustainability and how the different solutions for appliances packaging affect the environment has arisen. This has led companies to develop new, more sustainable materials and solutions for packaging, constantly identifying opportunities to improve their commitment to the environment, while also guaranteeing safe packaging.
Appliances packaging: best current materials
In their search for sustainable appliances packaging, companies have identified a number of actions that must be taken, which are described further below in this article (transport, weight, and safety optimization). However, the choice of materials for packaging is also key.
There are several materials that come to mind easily when it comes to sustainability, including wood and cardboard. However, while plastic is usually ruled out because it’s derived from fossil fuels, some plastic materials are, indeed, sustainable. EPS stands out among them.
EPS or expanded polystyrene is a plastic material made of 98% air (just 2% of it consists of plastic matter). This material’s extraordinary characteristics make it stand out in the current appliances packaging sector, as EPS provides:
- An extremely lightweight option
- Excellent shock absorption, offering protection for a safe packaging against transport and handling contingencies
- A 100% recyclable packaging option, which also presents a more sustainable carbon footprint than other materials with a fossil origin and even some with a plant origin
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Appliances packaging: trends for efficient logistics
Aside from choosing the right materials, there are many trends in appliances packaging that are putting sustainability and efficient logistics at the fore:
The optimization of space in transport is fundamental to develop efficient logistics. An analysis of e-commerce parcels cited by DHL showed that around 24% of packaging volume is empty space. In order to avoid this, companies are designing packaging solutions that take up the least amount of space possible and maximize the possibilities of each spot, including personalized appliances packaging designs.
The optimization of each packaging unit’s weight through packaging analysis and testing is also part of this process.
Traceability and connectedness
Appliances packaging solutions are more and more expected to include smart communication technologies that allow companies to trace their goods at all times, optimizing their logistics. This involves the use of connected sensors, codes, and tags that allow proactive logistics management.
The safety of transported goods continues to be crucial to achieving efficient logistics, with new technologies and materials constantly emerging to guarantee safe packaging.
For instance, the use of customized, EPS filling materials helps to protect products in appliances packaging, reducing shipment damage and the economic and logistic costs that come with it.
How can EPS improve appliances packaging logistics
EPS is an extremely lightweight material that can add up to a 20% reduction of weight in packaging.
EPS appliances packaging can be devised as personalized solutions that adapt to each product and its packaging needs. Thanks to the advanced design of EPS parts, the number of appliances per pallet can be increased by 25%.
EPS offers excellent mechanical resistance against the risks of transportation, including shocks and drops. Besides, the possibility of generating customized packaging units through EPS parts adds up to generating safe packaging.
The use of EPS in appliances packaging thus produces economic savings driven by the weight, transport capacity, and safety optimization described above.
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Sustainability and circular economy in appliances packaging
Recycling of packaging materials
While only 14% of the plastic packaging used globally is recycled today, EPS is an easily recyclable monomaterial. At the same time, it’s an inert material that doesn’t pollute elements such as air or water. In addition, plastic stakeholders and the European government took the commitment to increase the rate to 50% with monomaterial as EPS.
Through the use of EPP (expanded polypropylene), companies can have access to packaging solutions that present the same properties that EPS with the added benefit of creating reusable packaging units. Thoroughly used in the automotive sector, these solutions retain their mechanical performance and are 100% recyclable as well.
New packaging materials made to face new challenges
Another approach to face the increasing demand for sustainability is developing new materials with a lower impact on the environment.
- NEOPS: This bio-sourced material developed by Knauf Industries is made from an expandable plastic resin of vegetable biomass. Its carbon footprint is much lower than the one of conventional EPS, but it maintains the same performance and properties.
- CELOOPS: It is an expandable plastic resin from post-consumer recycled plastic whose basic chemical composition is styrene. It helps to reduce plastic waste providing your products with a very low carbon footprint.
Knauf Circular and material recollection
Knauf Circular® is an initiative that speaks of our commitment to the recycling of EPS products. Through this action, we coordinate the users of EPS products – industrial firms, retail sector, insulation installation contractors, recycling centers, etc. – with an on-site collection service of their own EPS waste from packaging.
This provides a guarantee for all users that their EPS waste will be recycled in a responsible program and incorporated into new polystyrene products, generating a circular economy model that helps to position EPS as a sustainable material.
Learn more about appliances packaging and the possibilities of EPS to achieve efficient and safe packaging in our free guide ‘Protective packaging solutions for HVACR’.