single-use plastic wrap versus reusable pallet wrap 

Return loop

The main drawback with reusable pallet wrap is the fact the product only works if you can get it back to the original despatch area in a reasonable time frame so that it can be reused repeatedly. If this is possible either by being used internally, if you have your own transport or have a mutual arrangement with a 3rd party courier then reusable pallet wraps are the obvious choice for you. If you cannot under any circumstances get the product back to where it started, then reusable pallet wraps are not for you.

Load stability

Pallet wrap does a good job of securing goods if a correct wrapping process is followed, however there is always the risk of wrapping with reduced tension; reusable wrap can have similar issues, but with adjustable buckles they can be tightened to a very high level of tension and a visual check can quickly identify any weakness, unlike stretch film. The reusable fabric doesn’t ‘give’ like shrink wrap does and the buckles can be selected to suit each specific application to ensure the correct tension is created.

Attachment to pallet

Shrink wrap is normally only attached at one corner of the pallet to start off the wrapping process. Reusable pallet wraps have either 1, 2 or 4 straps that attach to the pallet depending on the weight and application. These straps don’t stretch therefore give a very positive holding force during transportation.

Delivery time

Shrink wrap is a commodity product and is available from most packaging suppliers across the world, but reusable pallet wraps are made to bespoke requirements to suit each client, so there is an initial upfront cost to get them working within your despatch system. This also means there is likely to be an initial delay while they are being manufactured which could be up to 8-10 weeks depending on how many are required. These can easily be supplied in batches and we would recommend that you do this so that any minor changes can be made to the oncoming batches once you have started integrating the reusable pallet wraps into your system.

Cost

Single use plastic shrink wrap appears cheap as it can be purchased very competitively from any number of sources, but one big drawback is it is only designed for single use. Some of our clients have used shrink wrap internally where pallets are wrapped often for less than one hour while being transferred to another section of the factory, therefore it’s single use becomes very costly as so much is used in a very short space of time, and then needs to disposed of. Reusable pallet wraps have an initial upfront cost which appears to be high, but they will soon pay for themselves and then continue saving you money every day when they are used hundreds of times throughout their lifespan.

Wear and tear

Shrink wrap is only used once, so effectively there is no wear and tear with the product as such, but there is wear and tear with all the machinery and vehicles used to remove and dispose of it once its been discarded. Reusable pallet wraps are subject to wear and tear depending on several situations including length of journey travelled, type of products being transported, weight and height of the load, how the wraps are stored when not in use, how often they are used and whether they are used correctly by all personnel. Reusable pallet wraps can be repaired if damaged to extend their useful lifespan.

Time to wrap

Typically it takes 45 seconds to shrink wrap an averaged sized pallet by hand, and up to 90 seconds using a machine wrapper. Reusable pallet wraps take between 45-60 seconds depending on the size of the pallet and how many straps need to be fastened. So this specific point only comes under the problem banner if the operators are not trained to use them correctly. We provide an instruction video and leaflet explaining how our reusable pallet wraps are used correctly which will ensure efficient pallet wrapping.

Storage

Shrink wrap is conveniently rolled on carboard tubes and stored on pallets, whereas reusable pallet wraps are a long-term investment, therefore need to be stored correctly to ensure they don’t get damaged, and space needs to be allocated to them in your despatch area. If folded correctly, an average sized reusable pallet wrap will fold to approx. 300mm x 400mm x 150mm and around 50 of these can be stored in an 875L pallet box.

Environmental impact

Shrink wrap is a single use plastic product that is increasingly coming under pressure to be phased out in favour of more environmentally friendly products. Reusable pallet wraps are a great way to meet your sustainability goals as there is so little waste compared. Of course, reusable pallet wraps still must be disposed of, but these products are reused in a number of ways once they have come to the end of their useful life, including being reduced to granules and used to make road cone bases, temporary fencing bases and other similar solid plastic products.

Conclusion

So to conclude, there are many pallet storage and transportation applications where single use plastic shrink wrap is the only option as there’s no infrastructure available to make a return loop possible, but if you have the opportunity of a return loop within your organisation, then reusable pallet wraps are an excellent alternative. All the problems noted above can be overcome with some initial consultation, sample testing, and return on investment calculations. You could make a lasting and credible impact on the environment by making the change over from single use plastic which creates unnecessary pressure on the disposal system. Aside from the initial investment and the production lead time, once the reusable pallet wrap system is implemented in your organisation, you will be reaping the benefits of this within weeks; significantly reducing the waste output of your operations along whilst getting a tangible return on your investment long into the future.