12 Apr 2011 Interior Protective Green Packaging – Molded Pulp versus Partitions
More than a year ago, Packaging Digest published this article about some protective packaging work we did for Volcano Island Honey to safeguard their glass jars of rare and delicious white organic honey from breakage. Gratefully, since then companies have sought us out to help them overcome their greatest packaging challenges, especially if their objective is to solve the problem in the greenest way possible.
In some areas of packaging, there are few green solutions available. Fortunately, however, when it comes to interior protective packaging there are several. Two of the most popular are molded pulp and corrugated partitions, and below is a quick comparison for your convenience.
Eco Friendly Molded Pulp
It typically requires expensive tooling, but recently we have started working with a manufacturer able to create low-cost molded pulp tooling for short runs. Even though molded pulp is not necessarily attractive, it ranks very high on our “Eco Obvious” scale in that customers immediately recognize and appreciate its relative “greenness.” The real beauty of molded pulp is that it can easily be custom designed to provide protection where the product most needs it.
We rarely suggest molded pulp for applications of less than 500 pieces, but there are commonly used “stock” molded pulp sizes available if you are fortunate enough to use a primary container in a popular diameter or size. These are widely used in the candle industry but are often times used for other glass or fragile products as well.
Molded pulp is ideal when multiple, dissimilar products are being packaged and shipped together. Since a tool or “mold” is required, it is usually designed to fit like a glove, separating components for easy display and protection.
Perhaps the best feature of molded pulp is the way it can encapsulate the product on all sides, especially if a tray is used over and under the product. Sandwiching the product being shipped between layers of molded pulp will help it absorb the impact of being dropped or thrown in shipment.
Very Green Corrugated Partitions
Much like any other corrugated board product we make, partitions are available in standard (30%-40% recycled content), 100% recycled content and 100% PCW recycled content, as well as in a wide variety of board grades. Just like molded pulp, corrugated partitions are reusable, recyclable and even biodegradable.
There are no “stock” partitions, but they can easily be custom made with NO tooling required in as small a quantity as necessary. They can be manufactured and delivered assembled or unassembled. Pre-assembled partitions are obviously more expensive, but they reduce labor costs. Unassembled are more efficient to store and ship because they take up less space.
Partitions are best suited when multiple, identical size products are shipping together. Cells are created to provide separation, prevent product-to-product damage and eliminate label-to-label abrasion. A common design incorporates a smaller “air cell” around the perimeter to minimize the possibility of impact from all four sides. A heavy-duty corrugated pad or other cushioning material can also be added at the top and bottom to provide impact protection.
Both molded pulp and partitions require a snug fitting carton to be effective. We can make a custom box to fit the interior packaging design, or depending on volume, in some cases we are able to design custom interior packaging to fit a “stock size” shipping box.
There is a great benefit to working with a company that understands all of this and is able and willing to assume responsibility for the entire package design. We have yet to encounter a delicate product we can’t protect during shipment, using the greenest packaging products available.