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Things To Know Before Using A Stretch Film

Stretch film, produced from different formulations of linear low density polyethylene film, is used just about everywhere to hold loads together on pallets. Since most of us do not see the palletized loads that move inside trucks and rail cars, it could surprise you to find out how much of this plastic film has been pumped into the waste stream.

Reliable industry figures are hard to come by, but an estimate of U.S. stretch film capacity is something more than 1 billion pounds, which calculates to about 8,333 rail cars of stretch film material. You had had to wait seven hours for the whole train to pass, on the tracks at a clip of one car every three seconds if these rail cars were passing you.

Although U.S. annual consumption isn’t at full capacity, we are nevertheless coping with an enormous amount of plastic waste. What goes on to it? A few of it’s recycled, but most of it ends up in the garbage.

Exactly why is stretch film so popular? To paraphrase Sir Winston Churchill, stretch film could be the worst form of pallet unitization except all the others which were tried.

Strapping, either plastic or steel, is difficult to apply, expensive, uncomfortable or even dangerous to eliminate, and inconvenient to dispose of. Strapping offers no moisture protection for palletized loads, either.

Gaylord shipping containers, or large, lidded boxes stapled to a pallet, are popular in the printing industry and in specialized applications such as for example automotive parts shipping. But, they are expensive, use a huge quantity of corrugated material, and aren’t useful for main-stream pallet unitization applications.

Stretchable tapes and rubber bands may be effective for lightweight, standard loads and/or interplant transportation, and are very attractive from the sustainability perspective. However, these materials again give no humidity protection, are not useful for irregularly shaped loads, and aren’t strong enough for heavy loads and long-distance shipping.

Palletizing adhesives are applied to containers in liquid or aerosol form while they are stacked on pallets. They’re the ultimate in packaging source reduction, but aren’t always easy to use and might present problems downstream when loads are broken down. And again, adhesives provide no moisture protection and have limited strength.

On the other hand, stretch films can be placed on palletized loads of just about any size, weight, and configuration. Stretch film is relatively cheap and is strong enough to steadfastly keep up load integrity under even probably the most demanding shipping conditions. Stretch film can be incorporated into low speed palletization operations and high speed, in centralized or decentralized palletization surroundings, and wherever space is bound. Stretch film is easy to remove (apart from being dirty), and could be easily recycled if a company takes the difficulty to take action.

Realistically, stretch film isn’t more likely to leave the U.S. secondary packaging scene. That being the case, it’s really very important to packers to reduce the quantity of film they use.

Things To Know Before Using A Stretch Film by
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