Molded Pulp as a Packaging Solution

By: Bryon Crump, EnviroPAK

Molded pulp is an increasingly popular solution for sustainable packaging challenges.

Bryon Crump

Bryon Crump

Sustainability is increasingly top of mind among companies and consumers alike. As we move toward a greener world, everyone wants to know that they are doing their part. Access to a recycling bin is as high for the average consumer as it has ever been, and the demand by consumers for sustainable packaging for the products they purchase has increased accordingly. Consequently, as consumer demand has picked up steam, so has the commitment to sustainability by companies. There are a number of companies that now have sustainability as a key message point in their branding. It’s a way for them to show a commitment to a greener world and increase market share in the process. It’s all part of companies striving to establish a Triple Bottom Line: social, environmental and financial. If the buyer knows that the packaging is made from recycled goods and recyclable itself, it becomes a reason to buy from that particular company. The largest barrier, however, is that with a sustainability initiative, there are generally higher costs to consider. On the surface, one would think that companies must decide between “going green” and keeping a healthy bottom line. Enter molded pulp as a packaging solution. It’s an idea that’s been around for 100 years, but just recently, we are seeing it as the perfect answer to complex issue.

Molded pulp was originally patented in 1903, and in its earliest years was used mostly for egg cartons. We are now seeing it used in more industries than anyone would have thought possible. Molded pulp is now custom formed into packaging for a variety of different products. Everything from light bulbs to cosmetic products is being packaged in molded pulp, due to the benefits that it inherently contains.

First and foremost, molded pulp is sustainable. At EnviroPAK, a premier manufacturer of molded pulp packaging, more than 20 tons of recycled newspaper a day is transformed in molded pulp. EnviroPAK molded pulp is repurposed solely from recycled newspaper that would otherwise be headed to a landfill. Furthermore, end-users of the product can simply recycle the molded pulp packaging in most curbside recycling bins, something that cannot always be done with certain plastics.

By implementing molded pulp as a packaging solution, companies generally lower their costs. Considering the prices associated with activities such as transportation, warehousing, labor and design, molded pulp can significantly lower costs. There is a misconception that if a company wants to move to more recyclable materials, there is an added cost. This is not necessarily the case, especially when considering molded pulp. In almost all cases, switching to this packaging solution will save money. This can be partially explained by the minimal increases we are seeing in the raw materials cost over the past ten years when compared to those materials whose prices are driven by the Chemical Data Index. These include materials such as A/B foams, EPS and plastic.

2015-04-29 12.23.05So if the costs are not any higher, and the packaging is more sustainable, then the protection must not be up to par right? Once again, this is the common thought in the industry, and it’s simply ungrounded. At EnviroPAK, all molded pulp packaging is engineered to pass the testing standards of shipping companies like FedEx/UPS or standards organizations like ISTA or ASTM. We are seeing molded pulp packaging become very popular with fragile products, including glass and delicate electronics.

A generally unnoticed quality of molded pulp is the fact that it saves space. Molded pulp packaging can be custom designed so that they stack neatly and ultimately take up less space in shipments. This reduces freight, warehousing and handling costs. So once again, molded pulp can lower costs.

With all these benefits, more and more companies are turning to molded pulp as a packaging solution for the 21st century. In a business climate where sustainability is nearly as important to the consumer as quality of the product, molded pulp is being identified as a real solution.

Bryon Crump is the Vice President of EnviroPAK, a premier manufacturer of molded pulp packaging for the interior protection of a wide range of products. Founded in 1995, EnviroPAK’s central U.S. location allows EnviroPAK to produce protective molded pulp packaging for electronics, computer, food and beverage, service medical and telecommunication markets. EnviroPAK’s award-winning in-house design team has been recognized for their packaging including an Institute of Packing Professionals AmeriStar Gold Award and a Technology and Innovation Award from the St. Louis Economic Council. Operating out of two facilities that encompasses more than 125,000 sq. ft., EnviroPAK offers the highest quality molded pulp products aimed at delivering world class sustainable packaging solutions for some of America’s top companies through its valued distributors network. For more information, please visit www.enviropak.com.