Distribution centre turns waste corrugated into dunnage

A tool distributor in the United States has introduced a system that turns waste corrugated boxes into dunnage for its outbound orders.

With thousands of tools going in and out of the company’s distribution centre, the facility was inundated with corrugated box waste. The company had implemented a recycling initiative by bundling the boxes and sending them off to the recycling centre.

However, the downside of this process was the large quantity of resources consumed for baling, staging, pickup, and transport. Meanwhile, the company still had to buy a large amount of kraft paper for package cushioning and fill material in outbound shipments.

Onsite recycling

The company decided to look into ways to recycle the corrugated box waste into something valuable onsite. Special processing equipment from Europe, along with a packaging machine from Audion, allowed the facility to chop up used cardboard boxes and automatically pack them inside paper bags made on an adjacent vertical form, fill, and seal machine. These “dunnage bags” could then be placed inside shipping boxes for cushioning and void space fill.

“It’s a great story in terms of packaging and being able to reuse things for your outbound shipping,” said Greg Berguig, VP of PAC Machinery, a sister company to Audion.

”This was the first U.S. install of the system – which was already in operation at several sites in Europe – and raised the question of how to ensure a reliable supply of heat sealable paper in a different region.”

Supply chain concerns were resolved with EcoShield Heat Sealable Paper, which presented a reliable, recyclable alternative readily available from Cortec Cated Products in Wisconsin.

Recyclable paper

EcoShield Heat Sealable Paper is a packaging material for a wide range of uses. Its heat sealable adhesive coating can be applied to many different types of paper – white or traditional brown recyclable kraft paper – to make a recyclable packaging material transformable into envelopes, bags, tags, or bands. The paper can be printed before heat sealing if special branding marks are required.

In the case of the tool distribution center, a brown version of the paper was selected for customer validation testing and was subsequently adopted for use on the Audion AVM vertical form, fill, and seal packaging machine.

Benefits of switching

This changeover had dramatic benefits. In addition to eliminating the resources needed to collect and ship used boxes to the offsite recycling centre, the customer is saving an expenditure of six figures previously used to buy packaging fill paper.

Cortec’s VP of sales for Eastern North America, Mike Gabor, explained, “I think, one, it made a financial business sense for this company to do this. They saved a ton of money. Environmentally, they took that whole cycle out of the recycling stream and they did something good for everyone else, too.
That’s . . . the win-win of this thing.”