6 alternatives to molded pulp

Table of Contents

Six alternatives to molded pulp include foam packaging for shock absorption, corrugated cardboard for lightweight durability, clear plastic packaging for product visibility, biodegradable plastics for eco-friendliness, bubble wrap and air pillows for cost-effective cushioning, and textile-based materials for reusable and aesthetic options.

Foam Packaging

Foam packaging is a versatile alternative to molded pulp which is widely used across many industries. It is made up of polyethylene, polystyrene, and polyurethane and is used in packaging because it is lightweight and provides excellent cushioning and insulation for products. The focus, in this case, is the electronics industry and foam packaging is useful in the packaging of electronic goods. The polyethylene foam has a closed cell structure making it perfect for protecting smart phones or tablet from damages. Due to its closed cell structure, it is also moisture resistant providing another layer of protection to the gadgets in case it starts to rain.

It can significantly enhance the low product damage rate from 1-2% to under 0.5%. Foam packaging is also vital in the transportation and shipping of furniture. The furniture comes in different shapes and sizes and polyethylene foam comes in different densities to promote flexibility. It is best used because of a better fit than using other more rigid materials used before. Return rates were reduced by about 30% because the product is less damaged during shipping. Additionally, in the medical industry, the expanded polystyrene is important as it provides great vibration protection for molded plastic parts.

In this industry, maintaining sterility and component parts integrity is very important and the EPS provides an all clean environment for medical parts. Finally, there are other industries such as automotive that benefit immensely from foam packaging. In this industry, due to long shipping times, parts, especially engines require maximum insulation from not only external temperatures but also vibrations. In this case, both vibration and insulation protection is required especially because they need to have a high tolerance to not get amiss during shipping. The expansion to include biodegradable foam can be useful. It has cost advantages over molded pulp which is around 10-20% based on application and volume.


Corrugated Cardboard

Corrugated cardboard is one of the most common alternatives to molded pulp that offers higher adaptability and recycles more efficiently. This type of packaging generally consists of a fluted corrugated sheet and one or two flat linerboards. Among all competing alternatives, corrugated cardboard has one of the highest levels of customizability in terms of thickness, size, and structural strength. As such, corrugated cardboard is one of the most typically recommended options for many needs of such industries as e-commerce or electronics. Corrugated boxes are one of the most popular forms of packaging delivery in the e-commerce sector.

Thanks to its high strength-to-weight ratio, this material is well-suited for the protection of books, electronics, and clothing during shipping. Retailers noted that the return rate due to product damage had lowered by 70% since the implementation of corrugated cardboard as a means of shipping. This alternative is to be preferred to lighter and less rigid options such as plastic wraps that cost the industry millions of dollars in transit damage. Cardboard boxes are also frequently utilized in the food industry. Corrugated boxes are not only a structurally efficient but also a food-safe solution to the delivery of such perishables as fruits and vegetables.

Its absorbing properties allow for the control of moisture and the prevention of an overrun of mold. The produce also benefits from fitted shipment allowing for increased airflow. As a result, the product has a highly competitive shelf life allowing for it to last several days more compared to other forms of packaging. When shipping larger appliances such as refrigerators or washing machines, manufacturers and clients often take advantage of doubled corrugated walls. This deviation from the conventional single-wall solution enables higher absorbance of force that would feed back into the device in the form of an impact or vibration. The most typical benefit is that it allows for nearly one-quarter reduction in the cost of returns and manufacturer repairs. It is also likely to cost 15-20% less than molded pulp for the same volume. Most importantly, it recycles at a rate of 88%, one of the most efficient materials on the market.

Plastic Packaging

Plastic packaging is a highly versatile alternative to molded pulp, outperforming the latter in several respects across many applications. The durability, clarity, and lower pricing of thermoformed plastics mean that they are widely used in consumer and industrial packaging across the two most common types, PET and PVC. For example, plastic packaging is particularly prevalent in the food industry, where clarity and durability are important qualities. Because they are transparent, all common types of plastic containers allow customers to see the products directly, which is useful for a multitude of food types, such as fresh produce, pastries, and many kinds of ready-to-eat foods. Retailers have reportedly experienced an increase in sales of up to 30% for foods packaged in clear plastics.

This is because customers prefer to inspect the food before purchasing it, rather than having to rely on store employees to show them the products. In the retail sector, plastic packaging is often used to protect and display electronics and cosmetics. These products benefit from the rigid or softly cushioned nature of blisters and clamshells meant to protect products from damage and theft. For example, packaging and support engineers for a large electronics manufacturer report that shipping-damage rates are less than 1% of products when they are packaged in specific sizes of plastic clamshells, as opposed to 5% in plastic cartons or 10% in corrugated cardboard containers. In the medical field, sterile packaging of medical devices and separating doses of medicine is a necessary use of plastic packaging.

The associated plastics need to be of high qualities – just like the polymers that form single-use containers. Facilities routinely perform tests that report a decrease in contamination with recent samples, which is safer for patients and lowers staff infection rates. On the cost side, plastic packaging is usually slightly cheaper than molded pulp, especially given how it reduces damage to delicate and effort-intensive products. Production costs are typically 20-25% lower than for molded pulp fencing based on the manufacturing requirements and volume, with the plastic itself often being cheaper than comparable pulps.

Bubble Wrap and Air Pillows

Bubble wrap and air pillows are a light-weight and cost-efficient alternative to molded pulp for numerous applications. However, they are particularly popular as a packaging solution because their design is well-suited for providing cushioning and reducing shipping weights. These applications can greatly benefit from these materials in such an aspect as the e-commerce market. This is a substantial market that is defined by the need to ship a wide variety of items, such as electronics and home goods, including fragile ones. When shipping fragile items, e-commerce businesses can use bubble wrap to secure them during transportation.

The air-filled bubbles are a type of cushioning material that is able to absorb the shockwaves and any other vibrations that the package is bound to experience through the course of the shipping. According to the experience of several companies, using bubble wrap can reduce the rate of breakage by as much as 75% because these materials are more flexible than any rigid box, such as a cardboard box. Air pillows are another product that is under consideration because they are one more result of innovation in the packaging field. They can be used to fill the void in a relatively large box, which prevents any items within from sliding around and being damaged as a result.

Moreover, considering that regarding light-weight items, the motion within the box is likely to also be less vigorous, this material is most suitable for packing such items. One observation that has been made is that they are able to decrease shipping costs by as much as 20% since they weigh much less than the traditional packing materials – paper, and foam peanuts. Thus, both bubble wrap and air pillows can be considered as highly effective packaging materials. Their most notable characteristics are the protective qualities, cost efficiency, and inexpensiveness. In general, they are about 10-15% cheaper than molded pulp, which is the most suitable traditional packaging material that can be used for the same purposes. Additionally, the packages that are used are sent weigh less and, therefore, cost much less to ship.


Biodegradable Plastics

Biodegradable plastics are an eco-friendly alternative to molded pulp which has similar, if not better, protective qualities and does not result in any waste problems for supermarkets. They decompose differently under the action of microorganisms as such are suitable to open dumps. The primary purpose of this material is to replace the use of traditional plastics with more environmentally-friendly solutions. The main use of biodegradable plastics is in packaging food products. Modern consumers increasingly prioritize environmental issues, and supermarkets and food producers use them to wrap perishable fruit and vegetables and baked goods.

This way, the packaging not only protects ending requiring food from spoiling and contamination, but also reduces waste, as the material is naturally converted to water, carbon dioxide, and organic acids. On average, retailers report an increase in sales of 5-10% of products packed in biodegradable materials, as customers are increasingly more aware of environmental issues and consider it as a part of their purchasing choice. Another area where biodegradable plastics are particularly beneficial is their application in the creation of mulch films in agriculture. These films are used to cover soil to change its temperature, reduce weed growth, and contain water evaporation.

As opposed to regular use film, biodegradable mulch does not have to be collected and disposed of, resulting in 30-75%-cost reductions for the farmer. Finally, event management companies use biodegradable plastics for disposable products such as plates, cups, and cutlery. This reduces waste management costs from 20-30%. The price of these products is typically 10-20% higher than regular plastic or molded pulp but saves the company long-term waste disposal costs and creates a favorable image for the firm. Post navigation

Textile-Based Materials

Textile-based materials are a stronger alternative to molded pulp; they have many competitive advantages in terms of flexibility, reuse, and aesthetics. Such materials as cotton, jute, and hemp are used in various packages that need strength and durability. The most widespread types of textile-based materials are woven shopping bags and tote bags provided to customers in major retail chains. This practice has already become common in many American retail chains, as the use of these reliable bags has a range of benefits. First, it decreases the amounts of plastic used by shoppers, thus forming more environmentally friendly habits among customers.

Overall satisfaction among shoppers and decreased amounts of disposable bags differ from 10-30% among different chains to a more significant difference of 50-70%. However, it works with not only ordinary shoppers as luxury goods and jewelry producers find the use of silk and velvet pouches and wraps very advantageous. These materials create an essential protective coating against scratches and enhance the out-of-box user experience making the feelings more pleasant. Also, producers report that the use of affordable textile materials influences the users’ perception of the product, making it more precious and allowing to increase the sales amounts.

The wine and spirits industry is another big textile-waster that uses textile bags and pouches to be completed with the beverage on the last sales steps. As wines are to be delivered in a cold condition in most cases, the use of jute or burlap textile helps insulate the bottles to withstand temperature changes and additional hits. Also, big mutually-action events like holidays are the most time when people exchange gifts and wine, which can boost the sales of wine and spirits producers. The costs of textile materials are only 10-20% more than those of the molded pulp; however, the prolonged use of bags or pouches make it cheaper overall.

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