Sustainable Packaging Dilemma – When Bad Packaging Gets Worse

21 Oct 2011 Sustainable Packaging Dilemma – When Bad Packaging Gets Worse

Box in need of helpI’ll put it bluntly but politely – most secondary packaging (boxes, tape, etc.) we receive from overseas is not very good. People have shared countless stories with us about boxes that smell funny, are weak, thinner than expected, don’t stack well, don’t hold up in shipment, etc. And it matters little whether the packaging originates in China, India or almost any place else on the globe.

Domestically produced boxes, even boxes like our 100% recycled content Globe Guard® boxes, are better and stronger than the vast majority of corrugated boxes that are used to ship the imported products we all purchase. It is widely accepted that when the US buyer negotiates a lower price with a foreign manufacturer, one of the areas that is most easily cheapened is the packaging used for shipping it here.

Corrugated Boxes Must Be Application Specific

I can never defend the poor quality of corrugated board we often receive from overseas manufacturers, but in the interest of fairness, I also have to admit in many cases we are misusing the boxes they provide. The corrugated case shown in the photograph above is a perfect example.

At first glance, you can see the corrugated used to make the box is of poor quality; the board is very thin and the partition is even worse. You can actually see the thin board used to make the partition is delaminating, with the three layers of paper separating. The partition was cut short, adding no top-to-bottom (vertical) support, and it also has no air cell around the perimeter to provide additional protection to the bottles it contains.

All of these obvious design deficiencies become much more crucial when the box is used for a purpose other than the one it was originally intended for. In this case, the client is experiencing shipping damage when the cases are shipped individually via UPS or FedEx. This is not surprising, because the box was minimally designed for bulk shipping on pallets, and in ocean freight containers I am quite confident the manufacturer would be the first to admit his packaging was never intended or designed for the way our client is using it.

A Few “Take With” Points

If you are importing products, we offer these three suggestions:

1.) Establish specs for your secondary packaging and make it as eco friendly as possible, especially if you are selling green product to green consumers.

2.) Ask for samples of the packaging you will be receiving and compare what you were promised to what you actually receive.

Last, but definitely not least —

3.) Make sure your packaging is designed for how you plan to ship the product, NOT for how it is being shipped to you.

We have redesigned, recreated or in some cases made repairs to a lot of imported secondary packaging. The right or best solution for you depends on a lot of factors including what, where and how many you are shipping. Please contact Salazar Packaging if you would like a no cost/no obligation review of your specific situation.