November 2, 2021 

Sustainable Ways to Enhance Your Packaging Line Efficiency

Some of the most sustainable ways to enhance your packaging line efficiency include optimizing material usage, using sustainable marking technologies, and improving shipping practices.

Over the past few decades, eco-consciousness has steadily gained more public exposure, with some industries going so far as to include environmental, social, and corporate governance in their executive leadership. Today’s consumers respond positively to eco-friendly products, and buyer reports consistently show that customers think more highly of brands that utilize sustainable production methods. However, sustainable production practices aren’t just a way to appeal to evolving consumer sensibilities—they also provide a way towards improving efficiency. 

For example, consider a company like Nike. In recent years, Nike has worked towards reducing the amount of material required to produce its footwear products. According to Nike, these more sustainable products, such as those in the FlyKnit footwear line, have not only reduced the company’s level of waste by nearly 3.5 million pounds, but they have also led to a reduced need for transportation and material/waste disposal as well, leading to cash savings overall.

In the packaging industry, sustainable practices are similarly seen as a way to lower costs and increase productivity. With the aid of an eco-friendly mindset, companies can streamline their packaging processes, save on material costs, and maximize uptime. 

Here’s how you can enhance your packaging line efficiency through sustainable methods.

3 Methods to Sustainably Enhance Your Packaging Line Efficiency

The following three methods are some of the most efficient ways to not only improve the output of your packaging line but save money and improve customer satisfaction as well.

1. Optimize Material Usage

Effective material usage is one of the most obvious ways to enhance packaging efficiency and lower operational costs. The rise in eco-consciousness has put a spotlight not only on how wasteful packaging practices can negatively affect the environment but also drain company profits. 

Fortunately, there are a few best practices that line operators can use to optimize their material usage, including:

  • Reuse materials when possible: This step is largely self-explanatory. Tossing perfectly good material is akin to throwing money in the garbage, whether it be from breaking down boxes or disposing of received pallets. If you find yourself regularly tossing packaging, make sure to elevate your processes to see if you can find new purposes for these materials (e.g. reusing boxes for inventory, reusing discarded wrap for other purposes, etc.).
  • Eliminate coding mistakes: When product packaging is mislabeled or labeled illegibly, for some industries, the standard response is to toss the package altogether. Distribution networks and retailers rely on coded product packaging for essential processes like inventory and sales—if the codes aren’t properly applied, these processes can become disrupted, leading to larger issues down the line. To prevent miscoding from occuring in the first place, look into technologies such as vision systems to improve marking accuracy.

2. Use Sustainable Marking Technologies

Along with reevaluating existing processes, line operators can improve efficiency by upgrading their marking technologies. Product codes and markings lay the foundation of supply chain traceability and are consequently required to appear on food products, pharmaceuticals, and beverages. One way to improve the coding process is by utilizing sustainable marking technologies. 

While not all marking technologies are built for the same applications, generally, the most sustainable coding option will be laser. In contrast with industrial printers, laser marking systems benefit from not having to use printing consumables like ink cartridges, make-up, ribbon, or labels. Instead, the only real consumable required is a filter replacement. 

By switching over to laser marking, packaging companies can still code products moving at industrial speeds, but their overall marking costs will be lower, and they won’t have to throw away any printing consumables. In facilities that use TTOs or printer applicators, it may be possible to replace these with less energy-consuming systems through the elimination of plant air and a bi-directional drive to recapture unused ribbon. 

3. Improve Shipping Practices

Product transportation is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions as well as a recurring cost for packaging companies of all industries. Accordingly, by optimizing how you ship your goods, you can reduce your company’s overall environmental impact and save on distribution costs. 

The costs of shipping and its footprint are calculated on a basis of weight and dimension. Sustainable packaging starts with selecting cartons or containers that are optimized for the product. Second, consider alternatives to glass jars or rigid plastic containers that are lighter in weight such as flexible packaging or bags. The inbound shipping efficiency of traditional glass or plastic containers is decreased because of wasted space. This means fewer containers can be transported on a single truck, and therefore efficiency is decreased. In contrast, flexible packaging maximizes weight and volume inbound, as they lay flat, fitting more products into a single shipment. 

The easiest way to make shipping more efficient is to more intelligently use packaging space. Start by introducing a variety of carton sizes into your inventory. With a greater range of carton sizes, an ideal product/shipping carton match can more appropriately be created. Although this may sound like a small step, it can lead to more efficiently sized shipments and lower overall shipping costs over time. 

Better Efficiency Doesn’t Have to Hurt the Environment

With the help of today’s packaging technology, sustainability and high efficiency can work together hand-in-hand. To learn more about either eco-friendly business practices or packaging technology, subscribe to the C&M Digest newsletter.

For more sustainable ways to enhance your packaging line efficiency, stay connected with C&M Digest by subscribing to our newsletter. With information on hardware, formulas, and other important marking topics, our newsletter will keep you updated on the latest industry developments. To get in touch with us about possible collaborations or ideas for coverage, contact us today.

C&M Digest Team

The C&M Digest Team is composed of experts from across the coding and marking world. Comprised of ink developers, hardware veterans, and engineers, our News Team delivers informed coverage that is always free from brand bias.

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