WBC has developed a papier-mache transit packaging system that offers the same protection as polystyrene but at a lower cost to wine shippers – and the environment. WBC managing Director Andrew Wilson, explains the many benefits of the pulpsafe system and what WBC is doing to rethink the plastic packaging debate.
It’s not Pulp fiction
As many of you well know, owning a small business presents many day-to-day (and longer-term) challenges sent to keep you on your toes. We’ve certainly had ours over the last 30 years. Luckily, we’ve managed to survive and grow at the same time. That’s in no small part to our loyal customer base. Survival has been in finding a tricky balance between coming up with new ideas, whilst ensuring our core range of products is still not only fit for purpose, but also the best on the market.
I will be the first to hold my hands up and say that transit packaging has not had quite as much time invested in it as it probably should have. It’s not the sexiest of the products we sell, but it is hugely important. In fact, it’s a growing area for us and maybe the success of it has hidden the need for innovation: transit packaging does what it says on the tin.
But the times are changing! The purpose of this column is not about shamelessly flogging our own products, but sharing developments that affect us all. Particularly developments in the plastic-free debate saturating the media and consumer psyche. As a business, our job is to come up with options and alternatives. Then it is down to you and your customer to decide what works best for you.
Developing New Technologies
About 12 months ago we reviewed our range and started prototyping and testing some new materials. They had to tick all our criteria: cost, practicality and level of protection. I am not embarrassed to say that the final idea came from products we had seen used in the United States that simply needed tweaking in terms of design. Rather than reinventing the wheel, the idea and the material had been right under our noses for the last 30 years.
What does paper, water, wine bottles, and couriers have in common? Pulpsafe!
I called it papier-mache at school but it is more commonly known as moulded pulp paper. You may have already used transit packaging made from it before. Pulpsafe is 100% recyclable, compostible and biodegradable pulp made from newspaper. It complies with all UK (and EU) statutory regulations and packaging waste legislation. It has an endless lifespan; the pulp products return to the paper recycling chain over and over again.
So what makes Pulpsafe different?
Well firstly rather than being a clamshell design like a suitcase around the bottles, the Pulpsafe system will come in three parts. It’s also top-loading, making it quick and easy to use and able to accommodate most bottle sizes found in the UK.
The best bit is that finally there is bottle packaging that offers similar levels of protection to polystyrene, at a much lower cost to wallets and the environment.
I am treading very carefully here and hoping to avoid a Gerald Ratner moment but here comes the boring technical stuff!
The Tech Talk
It’s important to say from the outset that Polystyrene is an important product for us. As I said, it does what it says on the tin. It offers unbeatable levels of protection and insulation for high-value bottles. However, I accept it is not the flavour of the month in terms of its eco-credentials. As UK recycling options and facilities improve, polystyrene will be more generally recyclable, but we’re not quite there yet.
Environment aside, polystyrene is bulky to store and expensive. That is probably why many opt for an inflatable pouch system like (Safe Air) that is cheaper than polystyrene and takes up far less space. Ironically, Safe Air’s eco-credentials are worse than polystyrene and it’s made in the Far East unlike the UK born and bred polystyrene.
Our job at WBC is not to tell you what is right or wrong, but to offer you choices and options so you can make your own decisions.
The new range of PulpSafe packaging will tick every box that both polystyrene and Safe Air fall down on.
- It’s eco perfect.
- It’s space-saving.
- It offers excellent levels of protection.
- Great price point.
- It’s made in the UK.
It means that there is now a solution out there that you can use cost-effectively with couriers, hub-based, sorting systems.
The courier Dilemma
We are in active discussions with the courier companies trying to get them to approve Pulpsafe. But this is meeting with varying degrees of success, and we’ll have to keep you posted on that front.
All couriers want your business. Still, many of them refuse to carry glass, whilst at the same time carrying glass. We want them to actively promote bottle shipping as long as it is packaged to agreed standards.
On that basis, they should then take responsibility for well-packaged parcels being insured through their networks. We intend to keep the pressure up.
If Pulpsafe is floating your boat, feel free to contact us now for samples and full details. As with any of our products, we appreciate your usual honest feedback and you can leave your comments below.
STOP PRESS! We are delighted to have started working with Flexi-Hex. We are developing a smart, contemporary, courier proof gifting pack for 1 and 2 bottles. Another eco-friendly option to add to your range. Watch out for details online at wbc.co.uk