Anyone who regularly reads our blog knows we LOVE creating packaging manufactured with eco-friendly corrugated board, inside and out. There are very few companies who have been as successful creating corrugated dividers, partitions and inserts for a wide variety of fragile applications, especially glass and ceramic products. To “present and protect” is always our goal (see first related post below), as well as the recycled content and recyclability of our paper-based designs.
Foam Internal Packaging?
There are, however, very rare and unique applications when the best internal packaging is a foam (dare I say it – plastic) based product. The application shown in the included photos is a great example. The two bottles of liquor being shipped are expensive and they are shipped to very important clients. The last thing our customer wants is for these bottles to get damaged in shipment.
Why foam rather than a corrugated insert?
The reason we recommended the foam option to our customer is that we knew in order to provide 360-degree internal protection, a corrugated option would likely be multi-piece, complicated and time consuming to assemble and use. We also realized if the packer did not utilize our design properly, the chances of these bottles breaking would increase substantially.
The advantages of foam.
Foam would be much easier and faster to use when packing the product. That labor saving would be significant and packing mistakes would be minimized. Foam of course is lightweight and will not add shipping cost. Depending on the type of foam used, it is usually available in white, gray or charcoal (black) and can include recycled content and be recyclable. (more on that below)
Disadvantages of foam.
First and foremost, foam can be quite expensive, and the minimums are usually 3,000 or more. Depending on the material specs and insert size, smaller quantities can potentially be run, of course at a higher cost. Unlike molded foam that usually requires very expensive tooling (molds), engineered or die cut foam is typically made with much less costly cutting dies.The biggest drawback of foam is that it is not perceived as a recyclable, eco-friendly material.
The eco truth about foam.
From a sustainability perspective, all foams are not good, and all foams are not bad. While plastic based packaging may not be our favorite, it does provide some unique advantages such as water resistance, and excellent cushioning and protection at a very low weight per unit.
The two most popular foam types used for packaging are polyethylene (PE) and polyurethane (PU). Polyethylene foam is usually more rigid, while polyurethane is always softer and pliable. Both materials are available with some amount of recycled content and polyethylene foam can even be recycled. Keep in mind the disadvantage point above, foam does not “look” green, so don’t assume your customer will know PE foam can be recycled. You may have to message that within your packaging.
No blog post, at least none I would want to read, is all inclusive when dealing with a topic as complex as packaging materials. The best we can do in a few hundred words is to give you an overview of what your options are. For more details, let’s talk or email. The more specific you can be about your requirements and application, the more accurate we can be with our help and answers.
Call us at 630-551-1700 or contact us through this web site. Our people are well versed on all packaging materials and solutions, so we are confident we can help you design attractive, effective, and economical packaging.