Green benefits, savings potential in palletising and other advantages

Having an optimal material strategy for palletising can enable you to enhance your green profile and reduce the costs of disposing of transport packaging. These are the experiences of Palcut, a specialist in palletising solutions. The company believes that many companies in the food and beverages sector have not yet made use of the savings opportunities.

The starting point for the disposal of transport packaging is the EU’s directive on waste management. This is interpreted differently in different countries, which may result in different rates. But in all circumstances, there are savings to be expected in optimising waste strategies.

In Germany, in accordance with Article 4 of VerpackV, the disposal of transport packaging is mandatory by law. Major retail chains in the UK require that suppliers must pay to have cardboard and other packaging materials removed from pallets, and suppliers in Italy have to make a payment to the State body CONAI for every tonne of cardboard, stretch film, wood, aluminium, or steel used in palletising.

“Our experience tells us that retail suppliers can achieve significant reductions in the use of packaging, if only they choose the right materials for palletising,” says Lars Østergaard Jonasen, Product Manager at Palcut.

Palcut is a specialist in interlayer sheets for automated palletising that has supplied several hundred systems to the food and beverages industry all over Europe. The sheets are loaded between product layers during palletising, and they are made of paper with a special coating for a good non-slip effect. This enables the customer to use thinner interlayer sheets, which offers a number of benefits.

Cash benefits to be achieved

If food manufacturers replace corrugated cardboard with a thinner paper quality, such as Antim 65 from Palcut, they can reduce the amount of packaging by 30-40 per cent, which can result in even bigger cost reductions. There is a rule of thumb in Germany to the effect that the cost of disposal in the food area can comprise 0.25-0.30 per cent of a product’s price.

“A major German mineral water producer, which delivers 66,000 pallets a year, would be able to reduce annual consumption by 57 tonnes of cardboard to a current level of 85 tonnes of paper – a reduction of no less than 40 per cent. This could save the manufacturer around 6,500 euros a year under the VerpackV regulation, which is the German version of the EU directive on the disposal of waste,” explains Lars Østergaard Jonasen.

Savings of 90 per cent

It can be expensive to use corrugated cardboard as interlayer sheets for palletising if you are supplying the UK retail sector. This is because they can demand a fee from suppliers for the disposal of excess materials used in palletising.

Halewood International, the UK’s biggest independent beverage producer, distributes 100,000 pallets to the UK retail sector every year. They have saved 70 tonnes of cardboard a year by replacing interlayer sheets of corrugated cardboard with interlayer sheets of anti-slip paper. The paper solution weighs only 180 gsm compared with 400 gsm for corrugated cardboard.

This reduction in cardboard consumption means that Halewood has reduced the cost of disposing of packaging materials by up to 90 per cent, because they now pay charges to the UK retail sector at a far lower rate.

Stretch film expensive to dispose of

The amount of stretch film used to wrap pallets may seem small, but it is surprising how much can be saved by reducing this amount. In the example of the mineral water producer, they would normally wrap 30 layers around the pallet to create a stable structure, but the number of layers can be reduced.

“A 20 per cent reduction in stretch film is absolutely realistic,” says Lars Jonasen. “In this case, it corresponds to an annual reduction of 4.5 tonnes of PE film, which corresponds to a saving of 3,200 euros, as the cost of disposing of PE film is around 730 euros/tonne in Germany.”

“You can’t reduce the amount of stretch film without using something else instead,” says Lars Jonasen. According to him, the solution is to use Antim interlayer sheets with a anti-slip coating. This means that the goods are far more stable on the pallet, because they are virtually locked into place. This paves way for reducing the volume of stretch film compared with traditional, smooth interlayer sheets.

Another example is the Italian company Fratelli Beretta, one of the major Italian producers of delicatessen products. They save six tonnes of PE stretch film a year in connection with palletising 35,000 pallets.

EU savings and green benefits

All EU countries have implemented the EU regulation on the disposal of transport packaging, and even if it is interpreted differently, as mentioned previously there are significant benefits in reducing the volume of cardboard and PE stretch film, when the disposal of PE film in the Netherlands, for example, costs 620 euros/tonne, 280 euros/tonne in France and 188 euros/tonne in Italy.

There are also other benefits in using a solution such as Palcut’s automated sheet dispenser for palletising lines together with Antim interlayer sheets. Lars Jonasen emphasises the potential for reduced capital tied up and less space required for sheets and stretch film. Furthermore, fewer pallet breakdowns can be expected during transport, as well as less expensive downtime during palletising.

“The Palcut solutions reduce the volume of cardboard and stretch film needed for palletising, and this helps the food industry to reduce the volume of packaging that has to be disposed of at the retail level. This will benefit both the business and our green profile,” concludes Lars Østergaard Jonasen.

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