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How to make shipping sustainable

When it comes to running a sustainable business, it can seem like success only makes it harder.

As demand for your products grows, fuelled by a more environmentally and socially conscious customer base happy to support the way you do business, you have to ship more product. That means more lorries on the road, more shipments at sea, and more air freight miles travelled, leading to higher carbon emissions.

Fortunately, help is out there. It is possible to make shipping more sustainable. We know, because it’s what we do.

Sustainable shipping explained

Whether you know it as a shipping crate, a shipping box, or a pallet box, the outer packaging used by your business to transport batches of your product or products to distributors might not be something that you ordinarily give much thought to.

But the type of shipping crate you choose materially affects how much product you can transport at any one time, how much it costs you to do so, the environmental impact of each journey, and the likelihood of goods reaching their destination undamaged.

Making the right choice can make your business operations significantly more sustainable, and cheaper.

A guide to shipping crates

The concept of using shipping crates of one form or another to group together products in transit is nothing new – they have been around since the earliest days of nationwide and international trade.

Particularly popular for shipping high volume or high value goods, the act of enclosing palletised goods in an outer layer of packaging – often with protective inserts and packaging void fill on the inside to prevent them shifting around during the journey – provides better protection than transporting goods on open pallets.

There are three commonly used types of shipping crate. These are:

  • Wooden shipping crates
  • Plastic shipping crates
  • Corrugated cardboard boxes

Wooden shipping crates

The traditional choice, used by many businesses for their strength, relatively low cost and ability to be reused over and over again, these may be popular, but they’re not the most sustainable option.

Under ISPM 15 regulations, wooden shipping crates have to be made from virgin wood that has been heat or chemically treated prior to their use in international shipping operations.

This treatment is costly, and the rising cost and recent lower availability of virgin wood means it is only getting pricier.

Plastic shipping crates

With governments worldwide legislating to ban single-use plastic packaging and encouraging businesses to design plastics out of use wherever possible, plastic shipping crates no longer seem a viable option.

In all forms, plastics pollute the environment during their production and at the end of their working life. They can rarely be recycled, and do not biodegrade.

Which leaves us with…

Cardboard boxes for shipping: The sustainable choice

half euro sized shipping crate

At PALLITE® Group, we believe the future of packaging lies in paper – or at least in the honeycomb cardboard products we make with it.

Recycled paper is a raw material that is available in abundance, and paper is widely recyclable and recycled after use. If it isn’t recycled and ends up in landfill, it breaks down quickly, leaving behind no trace and having zero negative effects in the process.

Paper is also an incredibly versatile material. We shape it into a honeycomb structure and sandwich it between layers of yet more paper, sealed with biodegradable PVA glue to make the signature honeycomb paper cardboard at the centre of all our products.

Developed initially for use in pallet manufacture, we now use this honeycomb board to manufacture a wide range of sustainable packaging products, including sustainable shipping crates, layer pads and environmentally friendly, plastic-free void fill.

With a high strength-to-weight ratio and impressive durability, it results in packaging solutions that are incredibly lightweight, clean and versatile, and yet also capable of withstanding the rigours of the supply chain.

Our sustainable shipping crates can hold up to 750kg and stack up to 500kg. Exempt from ISPM 15 regulations, they come with a choice of 15mm or 25mm thick protective walls and customers have the option to add bespoke CNC-cut paper honeycomb cardboard inserts to hold goods in place during transportation.

They can be manufactured to bespoke sizes and are also capable of being palletised so businesses can maximise the use of space in lorries and containers by reducing the amount of empty space shipped each time.

Other benefits of our shipping crates include no nails or other fixings to catch or trap clothes or skin, no splintering, and a low moisture content, making mould growth extremely unlikely.

Shipping crates: Lightweighting for sustainability

Weighing from just 12.4kg, a standard PALLITE® shipping crate is up to 83% (yes, you heard that right!) lighter than an equivalent wooden shipping crate.

Lighter-weight packaging makes for lighter shipments overall, which reduces fuel use and results in lower emissions.

For example, a business swapping away from standard wooden pallets and crates to PALLITE® shipping crates would make savings over the 5,536km (3,440 miles) air freight journey from London Heathrow to New York JFK of almost 926 litres of fuel, based on shipping 10 crates holding 500kg each. Meanwhile, the carbon emissions saved would equate to charging 279,762 smartphones or powering the average UK home for a quarter of the year!

Packaging right-sizing with the help of PALLITE®’s bespoke manufacturing capabilities also enables more product to be transported per shipment, reducing the overall number of shipments made and further reducing the environmental impact of your operations.

What’s more, switching to more sustainable shipping crates could save you money. One of our customers saved more than £180,000 a year on their air freight bill by switching to PALLITE®!


To find out more about sustainable shipping crates and to discover what switching to PALLITE® could do for your business, why not give us a call?

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