- Guest blog post by Paul Warnica, AEP
When Stretch film was first introduced in the late 70’s it offered the "lowest cost per load-effectively shipped" over strapping and corrugated. Continually changing, the stretch film industry has seen successive technological advances that have reduced both costs, and the amount of material entering the waste stream. Being aware of these changes will help ensure your organization maintains the "lowest cost per load – effectively shipped".
Recent improvements in materials and processes have led to the introduction of thinner high performance, and ultra-high performance stretch wrap films - which feel, act and perform - like thicker conventional rolls. Improvements in stretch wrap machinery have allowed customers to take advantage of these films. Properly applied, high performance wraps minimize the overall cost-per-load, by reducing the weight of film needed per pallet. Pre-stretch levels of 250% are becoming the standard with 63g material replacing 80g material - with no loss of containment or abrasion resistance. Depending on the application, even thinner films are routinely being used.
Proper Film Application
It goes without saying that goods damaged in-transit will negate any savings incurred by spending less on packaging. In an attempt to control costs, purchasing decisions are often based on “price per roll” rather than on total cost, a properly secured load and an improvement in the overall wrapping process. Do you have written, enforced stretch wrapping standards? Do you control the setting on your stretch wrapper? Do you have a defined procedure for evaluating load containment? Do you routinely monitor the appearance of your loads? Do you know why you are doing what you are doing with your stretch wrapping procedure? If the answer is no, you are probably not doing it correctly.
High Performance & Sustainability
In what has become a loosely used term, there are three agreed upon tenets of Sustainability: Reduce – Reuse – Recycle. As reuse of stretch film is impossible once cut off the pallet, reduction of materials continues to be the best “green” option. An estimated 800 million pounds of machine film are produced annually. An average of ½ pounds / pallet would equate to 1.6 billion pallets wrapped. At an average per pallet weight of 2.0 pounds in the 1980’s, today’s machine film market alone would equal 3.2 billion pounds. Similar gauge reductions have taken place in hand wrap. The standard 100 gauge from the 80’s has been replaced by 47gauge; cutting material destined for the waste stream in half. In addition to these trends, film recycling is becoming more common. The high stabilization of stretch film recycled material allows for multiple extrusions without loss of properties. According to the ACC paper in 2007 the recycling rate of stretch film is over 50%.
With the number of industry changes and variety of product choices available, it is understandable why many are confused when trying to select the right film. That’s why partnering with a supplier who can provide an accurate analysis of your overall wrapping procedure has become increasingly critical. In addition to film type - focusing on variables such as shipping & storage conditions, load-type, machine-type and condition, tension settings, pre-stretch levels and total revolutions will ensure all loads are properly secured with the minimum amount of plastic used – and that your organization continues to maintain the "lowest cost per load-effectively shipped".