Industrial packaging manufacturers look to innovation to keep prices down
Low-cost recycled materials and new logistics strategies are helping manufacturers deal with new challenges.
|Raw materials for plastics are in big demand and expensive. More and more often, materials are being recycled into containers and pallets for a new lease of life. Source: Schütz|
Industrial packaging manufacturers are responding to rising electricity and resource prices by using low-cost recycled materials, developing logistics strategies and generating their own renewable energy, according to an interpack technical paper.
Rapid development in growing economies like China, plus booming business in established industrial economies like Germany has made resources from electricity to raw materials scarcer and more expensive.
The German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources has already issued a warning about a serious raw material supply shortage and energy prices in many European countries are spiking due to expensive imports of oil, gas and coal. Industrial companies in Germany, for instance, are now paying an average of 12 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity, roughly 25 percent more than they were paying five years ago.
Despite such difficult conditions, interpack says packaging manufacturers may be able to market high-quality industrial packaging without price increases.
Industrial packaging manufacturers are being hit particularly hard by the price increases, because “containers, pallets, technical components and work piece carriers are usually made of plastics,” interpack says. “Although they are light and robust, a lot of energy is required for the injection-molding of plastics packaging.”
Rising transportation costs have only exacerbated the problem, as scarcer and more expensive freight shipping means packaging suppliers are asked to offer foldable, conical or stacking space-saving containers.
Add to that increasingly demanding consumers, who refuse to sacrifice durability and quality but insist on sustainable packaging, and many packaging manufacturers find themselves in need of innovations to meet demand.
Schütz, a packaging company based in Germany, says it uses extra-safe packaging and sustainable packaging solutions to keep customers coming back in the long term. The firm recently developed a plastics intermediate bulk container (IBC) pallet made from reprocessed IBCs, simultaneously satisfying the growing demand for more ecologically friendly products while reducing its reliance on expensive raw materials. The company also uses “just in time” order fulfillment to meet demand in response to actual rather than projected orders, avoiding longer storage time and the risk of contamination.
Packaging manufacturers and food companies will have the opportunity to learn about strategies for cost reduction and improved performance at interpack 2014, scheduled for May 8-14 in Düsseldorf, Germany. More information is available at www.interpack.com.