Lightweight packaging: how it can transform your logistics

lightweight packaging

Due to its many economical and environmental advantages, lightweight packaging has become a buzzword in the packaging industry. 

As the role of packaging in logistics is more and more understood, companies are paying more attention to their choice of packaging. The truth is that packaging not only remains a key factor in protecting goods but also plays a crucial role in transportation and storage costs, among other relevant logistic processes.

Simply put, the goal is to achieve efficient packaging that protects products while remaining economically efficient and environmentally friendly.

Lightweight packaging stands out in the midst of these concerns as a solution to achieve these targets, solving many of the companies’ supply chain concerns. 

Keep reading to learn how choosing the right lightweight packaging can make a difference in a company’s logistics and make an impact on their costs and sustainability.

Logistics and packaging: Why is it important to optimize protective packaging? 

For decades now, both real-life experience as well as academic research have confirmed the crucial role of packaging solutions. In fact, packaging has been defined as “an interface between the supply chain and its main customers (the end users), [which] affects supply chain effectiveness” (Klevås, 2006)

Optimizing protective packaging is thus a crucial operation that must balance cost-effectiveness, protection and, more recently, sustainability

Achieving the right combination of these elements (that is, optimizing packaging) can have a profound effect in a company’s entire supply chain, helping companies in a number of issues: 

  • Controlling distribution times and avoiding delays. This is particularly important at a time when immediate, on-time deliveries are expected by end consumers.
  • Preventing damages and resulting return costs
  • Lowering costs. These include costs directly associated with packaging production (for instance, acquiring materials) and other expenses such as transportation and storage costs.

lightweight packaging

What is lightweight packaging

Lightweight packaging is a type of packaging solution that presents a lighter version than other alternatives without compromising product protection. 

Typically, lightweight packaging is the result of a packaging optimization process that has been initiated to create a lighter, more efficient solution than the original version that a company was using. 

Through the use of a number of strategies, including application of lightweight packaging materials, companies can significantly reduce their packaging weight. 

As a result, a number of efficiency and environmental advantages arise, which we explain further down this article.

Lightweight packaging material options

Lightweight packaging can be achieved through a number of strategies. 

Typically, using less packaging materials will come naturally as one of the key actions. However, this decision must be undertaken by professionals that look into all factors affecting a packaging solution, in order to avoid issues with product protection and packaging durability.

In fact, it’s the choice of materials that can make a crucial difference in achieving lightweight packaging that doesn’t compromise safety or efficiency.

In such a context, EPP & EPS stand out as extraordinary lightweight packaging materials: made of 98% air and 2% matter, they offer a 62% weight reduction compared with other plastics, and an 82% weight reduction compared to wood.

Additionally, they present a number of interesting features for packaging, including extraordinary shock absorption capabilities and thermal insulation (key for packaging solutions for food or pharmaceutical products, among others).

You might also be interested in Reduce packaging waste using expanded foam

How does lightweight packaging material help in logistics?

Save costs

In simple terms, reducing packaging weight equals lower costs for companies. 

Shipping companies establish costs by determining the relationship between a cargo’s weight and its volume. Therefore, Lightweight packaging significantly reduces transportation costs.

Additionally, choosing lighter packaging solutions also translates into less energy consumption during transportation, as well as fewer costs related to material acquisition. All in all, these operations mean overall expenses are reduced.

However, it’s key for companies to optimize their packaging weight taking into account its protective capacities. This will help them avoid costly damages and return costs that arise when final clients refuse to accept harmed goods.

Improve efficiency 

Lightweight packaging has a decisive impact on supply chains and their efficiency for a number of reasons:

  • Light materials are easier to handle. They thus ensure efficiency throughout the distribution cycle and enhance a company’s flow in transportation and handling processes.
  • They increase the number of full loads that companies can achieve, all while reducing packaging costs as explained above. In fact, the right lightweight packaging solutions can increase the number of appliances per pallet by 16%, all while packaging weight has been reduced by 20%. In other words, lightweight packaging means a more effective use of cargo units.

In what way does lightweight packaging make transport logistics more sustainable?

In recent years, both governmental and societal movements have stimulated companies to rethink their packaging solutions and intensify their efforts to lower the negative environmental impacts of their packaging. 

There are multiple strategies to generate sustainable packaging, all of which must be guided by committing to eco-design processes

Lightweight packaging and choosing the right lightweight packaging material stand out as a key strategy for generating sustainable packaging.

The following are all consequences of optimizing packaging to reduce its weight: 

Reduce carbon footprint

A packaging solution that weighs less means less energy must be consumed when it’s transported.

The reduction in carbon footprint can be additionally enhanced by choosing appropriate packaging materials. For instance, EPP and EPS solutions present a reduced carbon footprint during their manufacturing processes compared to other alternatives, further reducing a company’s carbon emissions.

Reduce the amount of used materials 

When lightweight packaging solutions use fewer materials it means that less waste is created and less energy is needed.

EPP and EPS, made of 98% air and just 2% plastic, remain a sustainable alternative.

Choose mono-materials

The difficulty of recycling processes must also be taken into account when looking at how eco-friendly a packaging solution is. 

Materials and packaging solutions made of a single material (known as “mono-materials”) are easier to recycle: they undergo less energy-intensive recycling processes and avoid the need for previous material separation.

Improve capacity while reducing weight

The logistic advantages brought along by lightweight packaging and explained above also turn into sustainable benefits. 

All in all, the achievement of lightweight packaging remains a key strategy for guaranteeing the efficiency and sustainability of a company’s supply chain. 

However, obtaining an eco-friendly packaging solution is nonetheless a process that must be considered from a holistic point of view that guarantees product safety is maintained.

Want to learn more about EPS and EPP and how they can achieve lightweight packaging and benefit a company’s logistics? Download our free technical manual about expanded foam in the industry and discover these materials’ possibilities.

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