Wrap your pallets with sustainable stretch wrap solutions.
EcoEnclose offers two eco-friendly pallet wrap solutions to help secure your goods for shipment and manage your wholesale supply chain.
Plastic wrap for secure pallet protection. Made from cast film process. 27% recycled, 25% post-consumer waste uniquely derived from LDPE film.
A plastic-free alternative to standard stretch wrap. Die-cut, honeycomb paper expands to create cushioning. Made with certified, virgin paper.
Pallet Wrap On The Market
Wrapping and protecting pallets is a necessary evil of logistics and freight. Once pallets are stacked high with cases of product, they have to be secured and protected so they remain intact and in good condition at every stage in the supply chain - from factories to distributors to retailers to small parcel carriers (like UPS) who ultimately deliver packages to customers’ homes.
Anyone who has spent time in a warehouse knows that good pallet protection can use a lot of packaging, much of which is single-use. It is frustrating to see all the material that goes into pallet protection. However, we can’t eliminate it because products on those pallets must stay secure and consumer-ready. Losing products is much worse for the environment than single-use packaging.
However, as with all packaging, we can find more eco-friendly ways to secure and protect pallets. Here, we discuss various eco-friendlier pallet protection solutions that can help bring the industry closer to our ultimate vision of packaging circularity.
recycled post-consumer waste | thin-film recyclable | low carbon footprint
Traditional stretch wrap is made from virgin polyethylene. However, stretch film requires an extremely high tensile strength (compared to poly mailers or poly bags), and making it out of recycled content has been difficult. Thankfully, this has become an area of recent innovation.
EcoEnclose is thrilled to have recently launched our line of recycled pallet stretch wrap made with 25% post-consumer resin and certified recycled content. Like all LDPE stretch wrap materials, ours is also 100% thin-film recyclable.
The most exciting component of this recycled stretch wrap is that it is one of the first times the recycled content is derived from LDPE film rather than rigid HDPE. Converting film back into film is a major environmental win! The majority of recycled LDPE is “downcycled” from rigid plastic. In most situations, plastic LDPE film is downcycled into composite lumber (like Trex). While this process is certainly better than the alternative, it means that polyethylene plastic often only goes through 2-4 recycling cycles before becoming a durable good. The ability to convert LDPE film back into LDPE film - and such a high quality, high strength film at that - is a major environmental win.
While there are other recycled stretch wraps available, none are:
- Made from recycled film (versus rigid plastics)
- Unverified and uncertified in their recycled content
- Extruded versus cast - and cast film is significantly higher quality and easier to use
virgin | non-recyclable (avoid)
We have been dismayed to see some “degradable” and “biodegradable” stretch wrap options hit the market. The available options take a long time to biodegrade and are not industrially or home compostable. In addition, they would never biodegrade in a marine or litter environment and, therefore, would not address the concerns many brands have about plastic and the impact of plastic on marine environments. Furthermore, they are typically made with virgin fossil fuels or a combination of fossil fuels and highly polluting bio-based inputs. Finally, they are not recyclable. Unlike standard, virgin LDPE stretch film, they have no end-of-life option other than to be landfilled.
made with paper | virgin | curbside recyclable
EcoEnclose is also excited to offer one of the first paper-based stretch wrap options! This unique, high tensile strength die-cut honeycomb paper easily expands and stretches around pallets, effectively holding contents in place. At the end of its useful life, the material is curbside recyclable.
While paper pallet wrap is an exciting innovation, it is essential to note its drawbacks proactively.
First, it is made with virgin paper. While that paper is PEFC certified, we recognize that cutting down trees to make single-use packaging does not make sense, and we hope manufacturers can replace this paper with recycled content long-term.
Second, paper wrap, like most situations in which paper is compared to plastic, has a higher carbon footprint than standard stretch film.
Third, it does not offer the functional capabilities of stretch wrap. For example, paper wrap will not hold cases on a pallet as well as its plastic counterpart. In addition, pallets loaded with heavy cases or subject to excessive force and jolting may not fare as successfully with paper wrap versus plastic pallet wrap. Finally, wrappers must use more paper wrap material than plastic stretch wrap.
Currently, paper pallet wrap is produced on demand and is orderable in large, enterprise-level quantities. If your business is interested in 300 or more handrolls of paper pallet wrap, click here to learn more about this offering. We will work with you to provide a sample roll to allow you to thoroughly test the solution and ensure it will fulfill your functional needs before placing an entire order.
source reduction with low material usage
Pallet strapping is another popular method of pallet protection. Strapping is done manually, automatically, or semi-automatically. Most pallets would be horizontally strapped and vertically strapped, so boxes on a pallet are unified and fully secured.
While EcoEnclose generally uses recycled stretch film to protect and secure pallets, our corrugated sheets are secured using straps. We use this method for this product because these are entirely uniform items, sit lower to the ground (and are not stacked as high as standard pallets), and are extra long (which would make stretch wrap very difficult to use). In this particular situation, strapping has proven to be a time and material-efficient and highly effective method for pallet protection.
Ecologically, pallet strapping is more material efficient than stretch film. While finding an outlet to recycle pallet strapping material is challenging, recycled content in strapping is becoming more common.
Functionally, however, strapping has some critical drawbacks for standard pallets. First is that it puts immense, concentrated pressure on boxes. This pressure can cause boxes to crack or crease and contents to be affected. This pressure is not an issue for many products but can be problematic for some. Second, strapping does not protect from rain or snow. Third, strapping is also challenging to use when pallets have non-uniform contents. Finally, strapping is very difficult to use and apply without automated equipment to support it. As such, warehouse and shipping teams require an investment in equipment to use it easily and efficiently.
Many companies use a combination of strapping and pallet wrap. The vision is that the two working together will provide better protection and reduce the amount of stretch wrap needed. We have experimented with this approach in our warehouse and have found that the total amount of plastic material used is not reduced for us with this approach. Given this and the fact that strapping takes more time to apply and is not as readily recyclable as stretch wrap, we have decided to stick with our recycled stretch wrap alone.
source material reduction | reusable | virgin | unrecyclable
Traditional strapping is made with plastic, cut off, and then landfilled after being used once. However, reusable strapping options do exist.
One typical example is strapping, which resembles thick, highly durable rubber bands. They typically come pre-sized and can be wrapped around pallets for horizontal protection. Another option is straps that are hooked onto pallets or themselves. Some use Velcro or Velcro-style closures. And still, others use ratchets for closing, tightening, and sealing.
Reusable pallet protection has two drawbacks. First, they are significantly more expensive than their single-use counterparts. That cost amortizes the more reuses. If your reusable straps are 5x more expensive than single-use, you will break even after five reuses! Second, most pallets are shipped from one company’s facility to another, making reusable pallet protection a complicated standard solution. Not only will you lose your straps with each shipment (costing you a lot of money), the company you are shipping pallets to is unlikely to reuse them again. Reusable pallet protection is significantly less environmentally friendly if they are only used once or twice before being thrown out.
For this reason, reusable pallet strapping (and any reusable pallet protection) should only be used for inter-company situations. For example, many companies use them to store pallets and transfer them from one warehouse section to another. Others use them to distribute goods from a centralized warehouse dispersed distribution centers within their network.
reusable | virgin | unrecyclable
Like reusable pallet straps, reusable pallet covers are made with mesh, netting, or vinyl. They are pre-sized, typically to be used with a standard-sized pallet (48x40”). They have straps at the end that allows them to be closed and tightened. They are “breathable” and often have clear windows incorporated for ticketing and other paperwork. Reusable pallet netting is typically made with a synthetic elastic material designed to stretch over pallets, tightly securing them. These are also breathable.
Similar to reusable pallet strapping, reusable pallet protection only makes environmental and economic sense if the protection is truly reused over and over again. Therefore, it is only recommended when pallets are transported within a company from one warehouse section to another or between warehouses within the same network.