According to Heritage Envelopes, the U.K. market uses approximately 13 billion envelopes per year—nearly all of which are transported in traditional corrugated cardboard packaging. This means an estimated 20,000,000 cartons are used just for moving envelopes from factories to mail fulfilment plants every year, which creates an incredible amount of cardboard waste.
Heritage sought to remedy this waste with the introduction of PackMail, an innovative solution that has earned them honorable mention in the 2017 Sustainability Excellence Award competition.
The idea behind PackMail was to:
- Promote and support sustainability throughout the industry
- Reduce the impact of the company’s activities on the environment
- Increase operational efficiency throughout the market
- Support sustainable growth and stability for the future of the industry
PackMail is an alternative packing solution for envelopes. It is “boxless,” meaning there are no traditional cardboard boxes to dispose of, and instead the product is bounded by two rigid cardboard ends and a minimal amount of film wrap. Heritage Envelopes says PackMail is an important innovation because it:
- Reduces consumption of boxes and pallets
- Uses 60 percent less cardboard, reducing the consumption of raw materials
- Is more compact with more product in the same space—30 percent fewer pallets are required
“PackMail reduces handling throughout the industry, releasing valuable storage space,” the company said. “More product per pallet means fewer pallets to ship and fewer pallets for the industry to receive, process, store and move around their facilities to and from machines, reducing energy consumption and waste.”
In addition, to achieve a compact and square package, envelopes need to be perfectly flat, but this is not possible when envelopes are stacked. Therefore, PackMail uses a new design of envelope that helps to reduce machine stoppages and downtime as well as increase efficiency and output. The envelopes look and function like any regular inserting machine envelope but incorporate a special design with double thickness side seams. This gives inserting machine operators a flat and rigid envelope.
According to Heritage, the use of the PackMail format quadrupled in 2016, resulting in:
- 380 fewer incoming pallets of raw materials
- 1,600 fewer outgoing pallets of finished goods
- 1,900 fewer wooden pallets used
- 8,000 fewer pallet movements
- 500,000 fewer boxes used in packaging, meaning fewer boxes for operators to dismantle and dispose of
- About 88,184 tons of cardboard saved from being transported to landfill or recycling centers
- Savings against various cost drivers such as cardboard packaging, wooden pallets, fuel and carbon dioxide reductions and transportation
The company has increased its estimated market share by 3 percent in the last three years—from 15 percent to 18 percent—and much of the incoming growth is for mail inserting envelopes for the mail fulfilment industry, ideally suited for PackMail. This means an increased proportion of envelopes being delivered to the mail fulfilment industry in PackMail will increase, further reducing the impact on the environment, supporting sustainability. In addition, the company is looking to further reduce the industry’s environment impact by proactively converting more of its existing customers to PackMail.
“Heritage Envelopes has a clear understanding of environmental sustainability with its PackMail packaging product innovation,” said Sustainability Excellence Awards judge Dolores Corcoran of Lauterbach Group, Inc. “This innovation not only created substantial bottom line profitability, it actually created product redesign, while reducing wastes in product processing, packaging and freight demands.”