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Shape of things to come

Paul Gill, development manager at Dufaylite, the only UK manufacturer of recycled paper honeycomb technology, highlights how retailers are responding to shifts in consumer requirements for packaging with reduced environmental impacts

Retailers are responding to shifts in consumer requirements for packaging with reduced environmental impacts


As the rise in online shopping continues, today’s consumers expect more from retailers when it comes to packaging. New age consumers want products to be delivered to them in a certain way and expect to see packaging that’s protective, minimal, hassle-free and ‘environmentally friendly’. This is having a huge impact on how brands and retailers are choosing to transport and package their products, tapping into a new emerging trend.
The use of paper honeycomb has helped to bring innovative packaging solutions to the market, benefitting both retailers and consumers alike. One packaging board manufacturer and solutions provider that has recognised this change, and is leading the charge, is Dufaylite, which has harnessed honeycomb technology over the years to create its Envirolite board, to provide bespoke packaging solutions for retailers to help fulfil their customers’ demands.

Strong proposition
A major benefit of paper honeycomb is its exceptional strength to weight ratio, which makes it an outstanding core material that can be used for a variety of different applications. Packaging that delivers on strength and weight is a huge requirement for consumers when ordering products for delivery, offering peace of mind that their goods will be delivered safely in protective but lightweight packaging. The weight and strength of packaging is also a key consideration for retailers, particularly in regards to shipping logistics and delivery costs. When shipping large orders of stock, retailers need to be sure that it will arrive safely with no damage to the product during transit. In cases such as these, Dufaylite often develops a bespoke void filler, to sit between each pallet to stop products moving within containers during transit.
One product that benefits the most from being shipped in lightweighted strong packaging is food, as edible goods can be easily squashed, bruised or damaged. With this comes another set of considerations for retailers. By law, food and drink packaging must be recyclable to comply with Government regulations, and to satisfy today’s ‘fussy’ consumer.
Expanded polystyrene (EPS) is no longer a viable alternative, as it does not cover environmental and recycling guidelines, causing significant issues in the packaging sector that paper honeycomb boards can help to solve.

Filling a gap
Reducing the amount of packaging is also high on the agenda for retailers. Although corrugated card and other paper materials are easily recyclable, these options are also facing issues when it comes to packaging. When corrugated card is specified in replacement to polystyrene, a lot more of the material needs to be used, to ensure it can fill the same size of void that can be filled using thick EPS. This is where paper honeycomb comes into play.
When automotive giant, Volvo, was reconsidering its gearbox packaging design the firm looked to Dufaylite to propose a solution that would work for them. The current application involved 10 layers of bonded corrugated cardboard, which required a lot of raw material and wasn’t particularly lightweight. After analysing the product, its weight and Volvo’s specific requirements, Dufaylite developed a unique design that reduced the weight of the pack by 20 percent. By using four layers of the Envirolite board, the design offered a lighter packaging solution that provided a significantly greater compressive strength. This incurred huge benefits to Volvo and made the product more desirable to Volvo’s clients in regards to the lightweight packaging design.

Tailored to requirements
Limiting the amount of packaging that goods are delivered in is important for consumers too. Now more than ever, consumers are becoming far more environmentally aware, with an active interest in recycling and helping to preserve the planet. This means that goods encased in polystyrene or plastics are no longer fitting the bill, often reflecting badly on the retailer in question and unable to stand up to Government regulations.
For Dufaylite, the key to success is developing packaging that follows a simple design and uses minimal material to fill a thick void, eliminating tricky packaging assembly and waste. This is where the market is moving – entirely bespoke packaging solutions – tailored to the needs of a specific requirement.
Retailers need to recognise this emerging trend and start providing customers with high-quality packaging that is easy to dispose of and delivers on protection and sustainability.