Southgate shape the future with Void Fill

7 July, 23
Darren Smith, Head of Marketing at Southgate Global, one of Europe’s leading packaging suppliers’ comments.

Darren Smith, Head of Marketing at Southgate Global, one of Europe’s leading packaging suppliers’ comments.

The consumer demand for less packaging is emerging alongside the continued growth within the ecommerce market. Receiving large packages including small items is creating customer frustration, resulting in an industry-wide awareness. It’s now an expectation that packaging should be the right size for its content, easily recyclable and in great condition with minimum impact on the environment. A challenge faced by many packaging producers.

In February, the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme came into force, elevating industry-wide packaging requirement pressures. The EPR scheme is designed to encourage packaging producers to reduce the amount of packaging they place on the market and improve the recyclability of their packaging. In return aiding towards less waste in the natural environment. Through the scheme all obligated producers of packaging are required to collect and report data on the amount and type of packaging that they place on the market in England, with the first reports to be submitted from 1 October 2023. Producers will then be required to pay for the collection and disposal of household packaging they supply when it becomes waste.

Despite the impending deadline for submission, a recent survey revealed over half of UK businesses have yet to make plans. And a further three out of five UK businesses do not collect data on packaging waste – let alone report on it[1]. So, how can producers make a change to reduce the use of packaging?

Luckily there are lots of ways to increase recyclability and minimise waste through packaging processes, and a great place to start is void fill. ‘Less is more’ has always been the key when it comes to void fill. It should always be reduced where possible, and businesses should focus on using the correct size box, but where it is necessary to ensure a damage-free delivery, there are different options available.

Traditional forms of cushioning, wrapping, and filling packaging have been around for a long time, but have normally used products like polystyrene foam peanuts and plastic bubble wrap, both of which are incredibly hard to recycle. Though these products will protect a package from any damage, the industry has moved away from these options as the product’s finals destination is landfill and takes centuries to degrade. With the shift towards sustainable solutions over the years, alternative options are continuously being introduced into the market.

One of the most popular is air pillows, which use less plastic material and cover a large surface area, making this product one of the most sustainable void fill alternatives. Consisting of 99% air and only 1% film, paired with the use of biodegradable plastic and paper-based material, air pillows are a popular choice for those looking to reduce waste and lower carbon emissions caused by freight transport.

Another option to be considered is shredded cardboard. By utilising a cardboard shredder, cardboard waste can be reused as void fill, not only eradicating the expense of purchasing void fill materials but additionally the expense of waste disposal.

One of the world’s largest ecommerce companies recently made the move away from single-use air pillows to recyclable paper material for product protection, in attempts to eliminate unnecessary packaging and reduce waste. A great alternative for those looking to do similar is Kraft Paper, which is distinguished by its superior strength compared to other paper alternatives while also being fully recyclable. The consumer can also easily dispose of this packaging waste, which considers the end user and avoids the issue of increased household waste.

We predict the year ahead will see further investments in ecommerce and an industry-wide focus on reducing excess packaging, as packaging producers adjust to the EPR scheme. Driving sustainable solutions is at the heart of our work at Southgate, and we’ll be on hand to support and educate our customers by demonstrating the important benefits of product changes and the wider picture of sustainability.

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