Customized packaging solutions offer a plethora of materials. Wood is a highly efficient and flexible packaging material. It has several environmental benefits which optimize the utilization of logs. Over the years, timber has soared in popularity as it delivers a lot of value across the supply chain.
Wooden crates are extremely large containers used for cargo and shipping. These are ideal for storing and packing bulky and awkward items. Logistics and shipping companies do consider the cost of materials, their durability and environmental friendliness during the packaging of goods. Hence, wood is often chosen due to its design and ergonomics.
Wooden packaging has environmental benefits such as lowering the company’s overall environmental footprints. The two main advantages are:
- It is low on manmade energy. Manmade energy is the energy spent (usually fossil fuels) on the production of a material and its transportation to the first place where it will be utilized. Lower embodied energy is directly correlated with reduced greenhouse emissions and lower costs.
- Approximately half of the weight of dry wood is carbon which is taken from the atmosphere as CO2 and stored inside a tree. This carbon continues to stay inside the wood, sequestered until the wood rots or is manually burnt.
The most advantageous aspect of using wood-based packaging is its recyclability. For instance, the average life of a wooden pallet is close to 10 years. The pallet in this duration can be repaired, reused or refurbished several times. This enhances its re-usability. The same principle applies to all other forms of wooden packaging such as wooden boxes, crates, bins and reels.
Once the wood has been recycled and is no longer considered viable, it can be recycled into a myriad range of products to be later used for bio-energy. Wooden packaging that has reached the end of its life can be used for:
- Beds for animals
- Compost and mulch
- Bio-energy to be renewed at a later date
- Timber products such as particleboard
Use for International Trade
Wood continues to take its place as a sought after material for international trade. After being sterilized and fumigated as per the requisite international standards, it is fit for use for cargo and goods transportation. Wooden packaging comes in various forms such as crates, pallets, boxes, bins, reels, drums and dunnage.
One of the hygiene properties of wood is its chemical safety. In most cases, the wood undergoes a drying process that reduces its moisture content to below 20%, thus making it fit to be used as a packing material.
It does not require chemical shields such as special coatings and can be used based on its naturally occurring compounds, making it superior to other packing materials.
The structure of wood is largely porous and has an anti-bacterial effect, making it ideal to be used in the food sector. Far from being undesirable, wood has capillary properties which allow it to retain moisture.
Some of the commonly used wooden packaging forms are:
Pallets are sturdy and robust platforms made of wood and are used for handling goods by forklifts. Wooden pallets have garnered popularity with the frequent use of forklifts and containerized transportation. Pallets have also become an integral part of warehousing systems and are being used for storage and freight. Timber pallets are made of both hard and softwood and conform to international pallet sizes. Pallets are advantageous for the following reasons:
- Extremely low cost
- Resilience and strength
- Easy to make and manufacture
- Can be customized
- Easy availability
- Reusable and recyclable
Boxes, bins and crates are primarily made from timber and have protective properties that prevent damage to goods. These can be customized depending on the rigidity and strength required to transport goods. Crates have gaps for ventilation and cladding. These have similar advantages as pallets.
Wood is also used in other formats and applications such as reels, drums and dunnage. Dunnage is nothing but pieces of wood used to reinforce packaging and packing containers.
Choosing the right packaging container can make all the difference while fulfilling shipping requirements. Wood-based shipping containers continue to be the most sought after on the back of their ergonomics and solid supporting structures. They can be used to ship fragile, lightweight and heavy goods. Sustainability and environmental consciousness are furthering this trend.