As the pressure on businesses to strive for net zero intensifies in the context of climate change, loss of biodiversity and increased social consciousness, the argument for sustainable packaging remains as strong as ever.
In this blog, we explore packaging void fill – what is it? why is it important? and why go sustainable?
Read on to find out more…
What is packaging void fill?
Void fill is a packaging solution used to fill gaps around products normally packed in cardboard boxes,shipping crates or any other outer casing for transportation of products. Designed to prevent those products moving in transit by ‘blocking’ the empty space, and to provide cushioning that absorbs the impact of bumps, vibrations, and impacts. Packaging void fill can also be used to enhance the customer experience of ‘unboxing’ an item..
Packaging void fill explained
Although right-sizing transit packaging is a valuable goal, it is not always possible, and if goods must be transported, you need to ensure they arrive in perfect condition.
Void fill packaging is most often used by companies transporting fragile or high-value products to prevent those products being damaged if a package is dropped or impacted in any way during its journey.
Finally, it may be used primarily for presentation purposes, to create a visual effect upon opening a package that enhances the customer experience, increasing brand loyalty.
Types of packaging void fill
There are several different types of void fill packaging. From edge and corner protectors, to complete wraparound solutions and loose fill, the choice of which to go for largely depends on the product you’re trying to protect.
Some different types of void fill packaging include:
Bubblewrap – Made from sheets of plastic film with small air-filled pockets, bubblewrap has long been a mainstay of the void fill packaging arena thanks to its convenience and performance,providing excellent cushioning against shocks and impacts as well as effective surface protection.
Foam sheets – Ideal for protecting items of furniture, glass, vinyl or composites, sheets of polythene foam can be cut from a roll and placed between items to prevent neighbouring surfaces becoming scratched, or used to encase a product entirely, protecting screens, buttons and other delicate features.
Packing peanuts – Once incredibly popular but now less so due to the availability of better performing void fill options, foam packaging peanuts are an easy way to fill small voids that may be inaccessible to other void fill materials. However, static electricity can cause them to stick to clothing, carpets and the goods inside a box or shipping crate, and they require a lot of space to store. While some are fully bio-degradable after use, there are also more environmentally friendly void fill options available.
Kraft paper – Kraft paper is both recycled and recyclable after use, making it a sustainable option for planet-conscious businesses. Incredibly user-friendly, sheets can be torn to size from a roll and used to wrap products before they are shipped, or crumpled as loose fill.
Air pillows – Pouches made from thin plastic film and filled with pressurised air before being heat sealed, air pillows are a flexible void fill solution that come in different shapes and sizes to suit different applications and on a roll for easy storage in the warehouse.
Sustainable packaging void fill
What you may notice about the above void fill packaging options is that all but kraft paper involve the use of some kind of plastic. While some may be recycled or biodegrade after use, they all involve the use of virgin materials and non-renewable resources in their manufacture.
With businesses and their customers increasingly concerned about their impact on the environment, it is therefore hardly surprising that paper void fill is becoming increasingly popular.
As well as being cost-effective, other benefits of this hard-working protective packaging product include:
It is sustainable!
Using recycled paper helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. It takes 70% less energy and water to manufacture recycled paper than to create virgin paper from trees and produces 40% less harmful emissions. In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency has reported that every ton of recycled paper saves 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, 4,000 kilowatts of energy, 7,000 gallons of water and three cubic yards of space in landfill.
It is reusable!
Whether crumpled sheets of kraft paper or crinkled loose fill, many types of paper void fill can be collected and reused by customers and businesses alike.
It is recyclable!
Paper is widely collected for recycling, after which it is pulped at the paper mills and turned back into recycled paper. This process can happen over and over again, with no loss of functionality. In the event it is not recycled, it breaks down quickly in the soil or landfill without causing any harm to the environment.
It looks good!
Paper is an incredibly versatile material and is among the most aesthetically-pleasing void fill packaging options, performing the dual job of protecting products in transit and enhancing the presentation of items upon unboxing. Brands are increasingly using this to their advantage, choosing paper void fill that matches their brand colours to enhance their customer experience.
Specific Applications of Sustainable Packaging Void Fill
Sustainable packaging void fill offers a versatile solution for protecting a wide range of products during transit. Here are some specific examples of how it can be used for various product types:
Delicate Surfaces: Protect delicate furniture finishes from scratches and scuffs during shipping.
Furniture Components: Secure furniture components, such as legs and cushions, to prevent movement and breakage during transportation.
High-End Furniture Presentation: Enhance the unboxing experience for high-end furniture pieces by providing a protective barrier and enhancing the visual presentation.
Glassware and Tabletop Protection
Fragile Items: Cushion fragile glassware and tabletops from breakage during shipment, ensuring their safe arrival.
Prevent Rattle and Knocking: Prevent glassware from rattling against each other, minimizing the risk of chipping or breakage during transit.
Secure Glass Shipping: Provide a secure and eco-friendly solution for shipping glass products domestically and internationally.
Vinyl Record and CD Protection
Protective Cushioning: Cushion vinyl records and CDs from scratches and dents, ensuring they arrive in pristine condition.
Secure Vinyl Shipping: Provide a secure and environmentally friendly way to ship vinyl products, preserving their value and collectibility.
Composite Material Protection
Impact and Abrasion Resistance: Cushion composite materials, such as boat hulls, aircraft parts, and automotive components, from impact and abrasion.
Prevent Cracking and Warping: Protect composite materials from damage during shipping, ensuring their structural integrity and longevity.
Eco-Friendly Composite Shipping: Provide a safe and environmentally responsible way to ship composite products worldwide.
Quantifying the Environmental Benefits of Sustainable Packaging Void Fill
Adopting sustainable packaging void fill offers significant environmental advantages over traditional non-renewable materials:
Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions:
Recycled Paper Production: Switching from virgin paper to recycled paper for void fill can save approximately 70% of the energy required for production.
Forest Conservation: Reduced paper consumption contributes to forest conservation, protecting biodiversity and reducing the risk of deforestation.
Waste Disposal Cost Savings:
Recyclable and Biodegradable Materials: Sustainable void fill materials, such as honeycomb paper, are readily recyclable and biodegradable, eliminating the need for landfill disposal.
Methane Emission Reduction: Biodegradable void fill prevents the emission of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from landfills.
Enhanced Customer Satisfaction:
Positive Unboxing Experience: Sustainable void fill contributes to a positive customer experience by protecting products from damage and presenting them in an aesthetically pleasing way.
Brand Reputation Enhancement: Damage-free products and an appealing unboxing experience can boost customer satisfaction and enhance brand loyalty.
In conclusion, sustainable packaging void fill provides a triple win for businesses: environmental responsibility, cost savings, and improved customer satisfaction. By embracing eco-friendly void fill solutions, businesses can contribute to a healthier planet while enhancing their bottom line and customer relationships.
At PALLITE® Group, our honeycomb paper void fill, EcoLITE, is a flexible, sustainable packaging solution that is already being used by many businesses to protect their consignments while improving their environmental credentials. Contact us today to find out how switching to EcoLITE could benefit your business.
Q1: What is packaging void fill?
A: Packaging void fill is a material used to fill empty spaces in packaging to prevent products from moving around during transit. It protects products from damage and ensures they arrive safely.
Q2: Why is sustainable packaging void fill important?
A: Sustainable packaging void fill is important because it reduces environmental impact, saves money, and improves brand perception. Traditional void fill materials are non-renewable and take centuries to decompose in landfills. Sustainable void fill is made from recycled materials or is biodegradable, reducing landfill waste. It’s often cost-effective due to material sourcing and energy efficiency. Use of sustainable void fill enhances brand image as it shows environmental commitment.
Q3: What are the different types of sustainable packaging void fill available?
A: Common sustainable void fill options include honeycomb paper, biodegradable packing peanuts, and recyclable loose fill. Honeycomb paper is strong, lightweight, and made from recycled paper. Biodegradable packing peanuts decompose naturally, reducing landfill impact. Recyclable loose fill is made from recycled cardboard or paper, versatile for various void sizes.
Q4: How can I choose the right sustainable packaging void fill for my products?
A: Consider product type (fragile or sturdy), product size and shape, and cost when selecting void fill. Fragile items require more padding, while sturdy ones need less. Shapes and sizes affect void fill quantity. Compare costs before deciding.
Q5: How can I use sustainable packaging void fill to protect my products?
A: Fill voids, protect corners and edges, and cushion fragile items using sustainable void fill. Voids prevent product movement during transit, corners and edges protect from damage, and cushions safeguard fragile items like glassware and electronics.