Reusable pallet wrap systems reduce or eliminate the need for plastic stretch wrap, helping customers save money, improve ergonomics, and provide superior product protection.
Reusable pallet wraps have been in the market since the 1990s. Along with reusable rubber bands, straps, and top cap and seatbelt systems, pallet wraps address the need to maintain load integrity sustainably through reusable packaging systems.
And while reusable pallet wrappers offer a range of benefits versus single-use plastic stretch wrap, they remain largely an untapped opportunity for stretch wrap buyers. Reusable wrap providers continue to report modest growth over the years, yet they remain just a sliver of the market relative to overall plastic stretch wrap consumption. However, several suppliers boast major brands among their customers.
To take a step back, the math is mind-boggling. With almost 2 billion pallets circulating through U.S. supply chains, making multiple trips per year, stretch and shrink wrap usage is staggering. To be clear, reusable pallet wraps are in no danger of displacing stretch wrap on a major scale anytime soon. There are, however, still sizable untapped use cases that could benefit significantly from a switch to reusable wrappers, according to reusable wrap system providers.
Frank Gallucci, owner of Amici Enterprises, patented his Envirowrapper (The Reusable Pallet Wrapper TM) in 1991. His product line, informed by 30 years of experience, has been gone through a continuous improvement process to make wrappers more durable, repairable, and easier to recycle at the end of their useful life.
“We’ve tried so many different materials over the years, including open mesh material, which was very expensive,” Gallucci said.
“The woven polypropylene still gives you the best durability,” he continued. The company recently introduced a clear polypropylene material on one side to provide product visibility. Some companies wish to see the product under the reusable wrapper “skin”. Others wish to hide it for security reasons. A well-known grocery chain in the Cayman Islands has tested and purchased these new wrappers. Insulated Envirowrappers are also available for protection of chilled or frozen products from Amici.
According to Envirowrapper, its patented Amici Strap and J-Hook Buckle system are tough, standing up to forklift run overs, and more. “The Envirowrapper is tough, saves money, easy to use again and again, and is recyclable,” the company states.
Pepsi Frito-Lay Canada has purchased the Envirowrappers for most of its Canadian Distribution centers.
Tony Brasco, Director Of Operations at Chicago, Illinois-based Pallet Wrapz®, describes his company’s growth, like the reusable wrapper market overall, as a “game of inches.” Business is steady and growing incrementally, but many orders are still for small quantities. Given the benefits of reusable wraps, it remains surprising that the uptake of this opportunity has been so low.
Pallet Wrapz describes its product line as an easy-to-use, eco-friendly reusable alternative to plastic stretch film. Pallet Wrapz are made from heavy-duty ventilated and breathable mesh or opaque vinyl. Their reusable wraps are designed for 2500+ uses over a 3 or 4-year average life.
Reusable Pallet Wrap ROI and Benefits
Payback, Brasco stresses, is based on use frequency and wrapper life. The more often you use it, the quicker the payback will be. Applications with a higher velocity – more frequent uses, will therefore present a much more attractive ROI than loads going into lengthy storage. For example, work-in-progress pallets can be wrapped, unwrapped, and rewrapped several times during processing – even within a few hours. Such high-velocity applications are ideal and generate extremely quick payback.
Gallucci offeres a general rule of thumb about investment payback. “If you’re using the Envirowrapper every day, your payback is in about 8 months. If you use it every second day, payback should be in the following year. If you are using it every third day, it is going to be around a year and a half – still within industry standards.”
Some companies have high-volacity applications as well as other slower-moving ones. It doesn’t need to be an “all or nothing” conversion, Brasco notes
According to vendors, reusable containment systems such as pallet wraps offer a range of benefits. These include:
- Reduced cost per use. Through repeated reuse over the product lifetime, the cost per use is significantly lower than stretch wrap, according to providers.
- Avoided solid waste generation. One vendor reported that wrapping the average pallet consumes about 135 linear feet or about a pound of plastic, either recycled or sent to the landfill. It also avoids the generation of roll cores.
- Reusable and repairable. Reusable pallet wraps are consistent with circular aspirations and can often be repaired.
- Easy to use and safer. Avoids protracted poor posture and tripping hazards of repeatedly circling the unit load. It also avoids stretch wrap on the floor or attached to pallets, which can be a significant tripping
- Non-clinging to other loads. Stretch-wrapped pallets, when they make contact, can cling. When subsequently separated, the film can break and result in product falling.
- Signals corporate sustainability commitment.
- Customizable. Wrappers are available in standard sizes or can be custom-made, including options for insulation and ventilation.
Overcoming Barriers to Acceptance
Putting on a reusable pallet wrap differs from applying stretch film and requires new instruction. It is not uncommon to see older employees resist change, including where it involves reusable wrap. Too often, reusable wraps are investigated by people like the sustainability manager, who sends the wraps and installation videos to the facility manager, who may or may not follow through with front-line employees. There can be too many handoffs and no assigned ownership of managing the project. Project management can make all the difference in a successful conversion.
To make matters worse, employees, especially veterans, can be resistant to change. Too often, the reusable is given to them to “try” to see if they like it, without giving them the necessary instruction to make it a success. In such cases, conversion is unlikely.
“The most significant barriers we find from customers are that they have to change their internal processes to adapt to being able to use reusable pallet wraps,” stated Jayden Friend of New Zealand-based ReWrap. The company offers fully customizable reusable pallet wraps. “How we usually overcome this is by taking them through the process of using our wraps at their facility and pointing out the advantages.
“We usually find that the time to wrap is unchanged, and in some cases, it is actually faster to use our wraps,” he continued. We also found that in small organizations that workers prefer to use our product as they do not have to move around so much to put a wrap on.”
Every application is different, however, in many cases, it is unequivocally easier for a person to put on a reusable wrap such as Pallet Wrapz than stretch filming a pallet, Brasco noted. “It’s not even a question,” he said.
But too often, he hears customers report that it requires two people to put on the wrapper. When this happens, Brasco reiterates the importance of taking the time to watch the video or follow the instructional brochure.
As with other reusable packaging systems, the wrappers have to be returned after they are emptied. It requires training on how to remove and folder the wrappers, as well as how they will be accumulated and unitized for return, as well as storage considerations at the warehouse.
Best Practices for a Successful Reusable Pallet Wrap Program
As mentioned above, there are enormous opportunities for reusable wrappers, especially within facilities where products are wrapped and unwrapped within a facility or a closed loop. In supply chain applications, attention to reusable wrapper control is important to ensure the program’s success. A few simple steps can help ensure success:
- Appoint a project manager or champion as well as an executive sponsor with reach to ensure that necessary changes can be made. And if that seems like overkill, consider that one customer who switched to reusable wrappers is saving $1 million annually on avoided stretch wrap purchases.
- Review product options to choose the best fit for your application.
- Determine the number of wrappers needed. Consider a pilot to prove proof of concept or a tiered rollout.
- Establish a handling, reverse logistics, and storage plan.
- Train employees to apply, remove, fold and stack the reusable wrappers. Employee education is critical. Don’t assume that because they know how to apply stretch wrap they will automatically understand how reusable wraps work. Help resistant employees to understand the benefits of change. Do not make usage optional.
- Establish a system for accumulating the folded wrappers. Retailers sometimes use customized racks or empty watermelon bins, for example, for this purpose.
- Do not store in unsecured areas.
- Attention to minimizing dwell time and facilitating prompt return will help minimize the number of wrappers required, as well as help eliminate the possibility of loss.
Reusable Pallet Wrap Vendors
Companies interviewed for this article:
Amici Enterprises (Envirowrapper) 888 507-5252
Pallet Wrapz 847 729-5850
Green Spider 614 288-0235
Packoorang (Palloorang) (+47) 40555274
REUSA-WRAPS 847 767-7747