Monthly Archives: July 2016

Extended Producer Responsibility: Manufacturers to Collect, Recycle, Reuse Packaging

The United States of America has been no stranger to the concept of recycling and reusing products and packaging. The practice of recycling has been around in this country for more than three decades. Introduced in the 1970s, recycling is believed to be one of the oldest and most important cornerstones of the environment movement that garnered mass media attention toward the late 80s and early 90s.

The appeal of recycling and reusing that was present during the early days of the movement has faded away in recent times. People are no longer hyped up or excited about recycling products and packaging waste management. In fact, you would be surprised to know that there are many activists out there who think of recycling as a boring and fusty way of establishing the environment movement. In their opinion, there are far more exciting and innovative solutions to the problems that are being faced by Americans today.

Is the Recycling System Frozen In Time?

The lack of attention toward recycling and packaging waste management over the last decade or so has impeded progress in this field. Given the fact that people no longer think of recycling as an important solution to our environment’s problems, it is not surprising to discover that the entire recycling infrastructure in the United States has been stuck in a 1970s system.

Such a system is not only expensive, but also inefficient, which is why modern-day activists often fail to acknowledge the significance of recycling and its potential to make the world a better place to live in.

That being said, it would unfair to say that recycling rates have been stuck in a limbo over the last 30 years. The rates have steadily increased through the years. However, the consumption has increased at a much higher rate, which has allowed the recycling rates for most recyclable goods to drop below 50%.

This is not a number that the authorities, the private sector, or the consumer society can be proud of. It is also worth noting that the country continues to send $11.4 billion worth of valuable material to landfills every single year. These materials include highly reusable and recyclable materials, such as aluminum and PET plastic. It goes without saying that there is a considerable market demand for these materials that are being wasted on a yearly basis.

As You Sow Foundation

The statistics mentioned above are derived from a report that was released by an organization that is called the As You Sow Foundation. This particular organization is putting up a commendable effort to revive the concept of recycling in the country by partnering up with several enterprises, non-profit organizations, and state legislators.

Their primary motive is to introduce Extended Producer Responsibility into our current economy. Extended Producer Responsibility, or EPR, is an upgrade to the current U.S. recycling system, according to a number of activists and environmental experts.

What Is EPR?

People in America need to realize the importance of establishing a sustainable recycling system and packaging waste management program that everyone is going to appreciate. The use of recycled and re-used products does not only help the environment, but it also saves the economy a huge amount of money as long as the system functions in the manner that it was supposed to.

Under the current recycling system in the United States, the consumers have to pay for recycling. The process itself is facilitated by the municipal governments, with little to no responsibility being shouldered by the producers, who should be responsible for manufacturing recyclable and reusable goods.

In a recycling system that is based on the principles of Extended Producer Responsibility, the companies that create and use packaging will be required to collect them and recycle/reuse them in whatever way they possibly can.

As the name clearly suggests, this alternative recycling system will put some extra bit of responsibility on businesses in America. They will have to fulfill the duty of protecting the environment, and helping out municipal governments and consumers in increasing the rates of recycling.

Role of the Beverage Industry

From the point of view of the legislators, there is every reason for the United States of America to adopt the Extended Producer Responsibility recycling system. After all, this system has been employed in Europe with tremendous success. In the United States, the beverage companies were the first ones to bring up the proposal of introducing EPR into the system.

Nestle Waters and Coca Cola (although less publicly) were quite interested in giving EPR and packaging waste management a chance. What they really wanted was to see PET plastic recycling increase without further bottle bills being passed by the legislators. These bottle bills were a headache for Nestle Waters and Coca Cola, because they required them to fund the container deposits in certain states of the country.

The Expansion Plan

It is important to note that the introduction of EPR will not be restricted to the beverage industry. Experts believe that it would be a missed opportunity if the plan is not expanded to include the grocery industry alongside the beverage business. The expansion makes a lot of sense, because an increase in the number of participants (in the form of individuals, companies, or organizations) will result in a lowered cost for everyone and higher recycling rates throughout the country.

This will keep the producers, the consumers, and the environmentalists equally happy. However, such a scenario can only be achieved if the authorities are able to make a perfectly smooth transition into the EPR system, which is quite a difficult task to accomplish.

Beverage Industry versus Grocery Industry

The beverage industry has been criticized for its inability to improve the recycling rates of bottles and cans for a number of years. However, the grocery manufacturers have been able to escape the wrath of critics, legislators, and passionate environmentalists. This is the reason why the manufacturers in the grocery industry are less on board with the EPR plan. They feel as though they are not nearly as responsible as the beverage industry, for polluting the environment by neglecting recycling and reusing opportunities.

Why Are the Beverage Companies Expressing Interest?

When you think about it, you realize that the major players in the beverage industry desperately need the EPR plan for two simple reasons. First, adopting this plan and establishing it across the country will help them fend off a good number of their hostile critics.

Second, the implementation of the EPR will allow them to enjoy a much lower cost on recycled PET. Once the cost of recycled PET is reduced, beverage companies will be able to use more recycled content in bottles without getting their costs increased significantly.

In short, the primary reason why beverage companies are so deeply interested in implanting the Extended Producer Responsibility is because it will allow them to rake in more cash at the end of the day. The monetary incentive in recycling and packaging waste management is strong enough to make them really push this idea forward.

What the Beverage Companies Have to Say

The high-ranking officials of several reputable beverage companies have expressed their opinions on why the industry as a whole is promoting the idea of implementing EPR. For instance, according to Michael Washburn (director of sustainability for Nestle Waters, North America), packaging is the largest environmental footprint that the beverage companies are leaving behind.

Therefore, from the perspective of sustainability, it is very important for companies like Nestle Waters and others to increase the use of recycled PET. As of this moment, they are being unable to enhance their reliance on recycled PET. Once again, there are two simple reasons for this. The cost of recycled PET is still very high, and the supply of the product is quite limited.

The Perspective of Grocery Producers

As far as the manufacturers of the grocery industry are concerned, the monetary incentive is a lot less, compared to the one that the beverage companies are eyeing at the moment. According to many grocery manufacturers, EPR is nothing more than an additional and partly unnecessary expense that they can easily do without.

As of this moment, most grocery manufacturers, including the major players in the industry, are simply playing the waiting game. They are waiting to see how big of an issue EPR becomes in the coming months or years. If the legislators, activists and consumer society keep pushing for the implementation of EPR, then the manufacturers in the grocery industry will probably hop on the bandwagon at the last moment. However, until that happens, the producers in this industry are content with simply watching things unfold without taking any proactive actions whatsoever.

People who understand the benefits and overall value of EPR may dislike the kind of attitude that the grocery producers have put on display. However, it needs to be understood that a genuine financial incentive or the establishment of stringent regulations from the authorities are the only things that will compel the beverage companies to embrace the idea of Extend Producer Responsibility. Right now, they are pretty happy watching packaging and products worth millions of dollars ending up in landfill sites.

This begs the question, “Will EPR ever become a big enough issue for the grocery producers?” The answer depends on the actions of organizations such as “As You Sow.” If they join hands with the right companies and legislators, then they will be able to make this a big enough deal for people to be emotionally and financially invested.

The Initiation Plan

The EPR system cannot be implemented without the authorities, the legislators, and the companies paying their dues. In other words, the implantation program needs to start off with small baby steps. You cannot expect Extended Producer Responsibility to become an overnight sensation even if majority of the companies in the beverage and grocery industry get on board.

It is going to take a lot of time, patience, and effort before EPR makes its mark on individual states across the country. Hence, it is very important for the people in charge of making EPR a possibility to come up with a fail-proof initiation plan for this brand-new recycling system. The EPR program should first be established in a state that has an active curbside recycling system. This would pave the path for a unified, national EPR system.

Overcoming the Challenges of Collecting, Recycling, and Reusing Packaging

If your business is not familiar with the EPR system, or does not have the expertise to create a perfect collecting, recycling and reusing program, then there is no reason for you to feel left out. You need to think small before going big. A packaging waste management system with reusable packaging and containers that can be easily bought and sold today is a great start.

In fact, there are all kinds of reusable containers that you can purchase nowadays. Some of the more common examples include pallet containers, wire baskets, metal bins, drums, IBC Totes, insulated containers, Gaylord boxes, stack racks, and bulk bags.

These containers are used repeatedly between a consumer and a producer or within a facility. In fact, the containers can be used thousands of times, while the packaging can be easily recycled. If the economy inclines toward an EPR system, then it would be necessary for your business to rely on reusable containers that can be easily collected.

The major problem that people have with the EPR system is that the upfront costs of establishing a seamless collection system for returnable packaging seem quite high. However, producers need to realize that there is a golden opportunity to cut down on costs and boost savings in the long term, as long as the packaging is being recycled efficiently, and the bulk containers, metal bins, and totes are being used over and over again.

Think of it in this way. Once you start using and collecting reusable containers and returnable packaging, you will be able to trim labor costs significantly (as you no longer have to employ people for box assembly). The amount of time and money spent on material handling is also reduced. You will also have to deal with fewer rejects due to damaged packaging, as you are using the same containers over and over again. Most importantly, you can reap the rewards of increased floor space, as plastic and metal containers can be piled up into a huge stack.

EPR would not only help to minimize the damage caused to the environment, but would also give producers an opportunity to lower their costs and improve their profit margins. The beverage companies are ready to profit from the EPR system. The grocery producers are also considering it. It is high time that you give recycling and reusing a chance, as well.

Rethinking the Price of Packaging

When it comes to cost-saving solutions, one of the most overlooked areas for a potential windfall is shipping. For many companies, shipping materials and supplies are written off as a necessary evil, a part of doing business that sucks away capital and man hours into an endless black hole of expense. Part of the reason so many businesses fail to see the cost-saving solutions in their shipping department is because they fail to view the entire system instead of individual components.

When shipping components are viewed individually, it may be hard to identify cost-saving solutions. After all, each step in the process is necessary, and cutting corners could negatively impact the products or services. When put together, however, it is possible to see how the various links in the shipping chain fit together, overlap, or fail to work in harmony. Some of the most frequently overlooked components of the shipping and handling system involve ergonomics, environmental impact, and corporate image.

By looking at shipping systems from a multi-faceted viewpoint, you will see how something as simple as choosing the wrong commercial packaging materials can cause problems in the shipping chain, may lead to handling problems, can cause issues with environmental regulations, and may lead to a waste of space. In short, a re-evaluation of packing and shipping considerations can lead to dramatic cost-saving solutions in both time and materials. Consider these 5 important packaging essentials:

Protection

The primary purpose of primary and secondary packaging is protection. The primary packing material is the container the goods are initially stored in. The secondary container would be a larger box or crate containing multiple primary containers. A container should protect your goods against a number of different hazard potentials:

Crushing Wetting Shock/Vibration Drying UV Light
Bacteria Fungus Insects/Vectors Mixing Melting/Thawing

Obviously, the type of materials you are shipping will determine the type of packing protection required. Frozen fish will need to be protected against thawing or melting; electronics need protection from electrostatic discharge (ESD), wetting, etc.; potassium would need to be protected from water; and so forth. Hazardous materials are going to have a whole different level of compliance, as do food and food-related products, which must be in containers that meet food safety regulations and can withstand sanitation processes, such as infrared and washing.

The environment you operate in is a primary concern when choosing commercial packaging materials. For example, corrugated boxes lose a tremendous amount of their strength when damp. Thus, humid environments can have a major impact on the effectiveness of this type of container. Don’t just think about where the box is packed, but follow the shipping route. It does not do you any good to select a shipping container that works at the source but which is falling apart at its destination.

The containers should not just protect the goods that are being shipped, but need to protect the environment around the shipping area as well. This is well mandated in legislation. For example, The International Phytosanitary Standard for Wood Packaging – ISPM15, has been adopted by over a dozen countries in addition to the entire European Union, the United States, and Canada. It mandates that all forms of wood packaging material, from shipping pallets to wood crates, be debarked and heat treated to prevent the spread of harmful insects.

Utilizing reusable pallets, plastic or metal pallets, is the simplest idea of our cost-saving solutions. Plastic pallets do not need to be heat treated and have a much higher life span that wooden ones. Metal pallets have an even longer lifespan and are the best choice for handling heavy loads. Metals range from aluminum to stainless steel and steel, based on need.

For example, stainless steel and aluminum pallets can be welded, and resist corrosion and heat. Metal also resists bacteria and mold, so it is great for food processing, meat packing, or pharmaceutical plants. Of course, if you are shipping to an company that does not return pallets and/or does not return shipping, it may be more cost-effective to use plastic pallets if you are trying to cut costs.

Handling

When considering the type of container to use for your goods, consider how they will be packed, moved, transported, unloaded, unpacked, etc. By thinking through the entire process, you may find areas where changes need to be made. For example, when commercial packaging materials are removed from pallets, where do they go? When containers take up warehouse space or cause hazards, this may be the result of inefficient packaging. If your containers can save your customers time, space, and money, this is a sales/profit point.

How will your containers be moved? If they will be moved manually, there are often safety standards that limit the weight of the container. You may also want to choose containers that are ergonomically designed to be lifted by hand. When automated processes are used, the containers can be larger, but they also need to be able to handle the extra stresses that they may encounter.

Considerations for pallets and package handling become even more important during intermodal transportation. Variables include the number of transportation modes, the order of transportation chain, the distance that the goods will be shipped, the time they may spend on a dock or in a warehouse, the manner in which they will be moved, and so forth. Each shipping component adds a different twist to the handling needs of your goods.

Based on how the commercial packaging materials will be moved, you will want to consider pocket handles, cross-stacking bottoms, and so forth. When space is a consideration, stackable and nesting containers make a lot of sense. When thinking about your packing at the other end of the line, choosing stack and nest totes may help your customers maximize their space as well.

Customization

One of the primary ways many companies maximize their savings is in the use of customized containers. While it may cost slightly more up front, the savings quickly add up when the amount of packing foam, peanuts, bubble wrap, etc., is reduced. Many companies are surprised at the minimal costs associated with slight changes to packaging dimensions when compared to the commercial packaging materials needed to fill larger containers.

Not only is space wasted in primary packaging, but it is wasted in secondary packaging and palleting, as well. Too often, businesses choose primary packaging first, and then fit as many of the containers as they can on the pallets. This is a certain formula for wasted space. By not maximizing pallet space, freight charges increase on every step of the transportation route.

Put another way, your shipping container has a fixed space. Your product takes up a fixed space. Yet, the number of products you can put on each pallet and the number of pallets that can fit in your shipping container are variable, based upon your packaging choices and the way you use your pallets.

For example, many plastic pallets are designed to be used with straight wall totes and top caps. Many plastic pallets have a lip around the edges so totes fit perfectly, thus maximizing space on the pallet.

Collapsible pallet containers are another way around the standard pallet/package scenario. Both collapsible and non-collapsible bulk storage containers boast the same dimensions as a standard pallet, and are able to protect and safeguard your materials. Heavy-duty bins can safely hold up to 2,500 pounds. Containers can be customized with no doors, 2 drop doors, or 4 drop doors for easy loading and unloading of materials.

The non-collapsible container without drop doors are usually selected when goods are loose or in bulk, thus creating side pressure on the container. These containers are also excellent for shipping powders, granules, or other substances that would require solid bottoms and floors, and a complete sealing.

You might also consider the wood crate. As with wood pallets, wood crates must be heat-treated. This makes them reusable as shipping crates for other products for export. They are also cheap enough to be used as a one-way shipping option.

Reusability

Another way to save huge amounts of money on packing and shipping costs is to make use of reusable containers. Not only are used containers cheaper than buying them new, but if you ship containers back and forth within your infrastructure, you do not need to constantly purchase disposable commercial packaging materials.

Remember, when selecting commercial packaging materials, the main consideration should be ensuring the package contents arrive to your customer in good condition. Whether new or used, disposable or re-usable, commercial packaging materials must be able to stand up to the wear and tear of shipping, and the environmental conditions to which it will be exposed, including rain, heat, pests, humidity, snow, freezing conditions, and so forth.

Once you find the commercial packaging materials that are right for you, reusable containers can greatly reduce expenses by reducing packaging, labor costs, and product damage. Of course, you need to pick the right containers in order to maximize cube utilization, thereby decreasing overall freight costs. After all, your commercial packaging materials may be reusable, but your freight charges just keep adding up. Your freight options may contain fixed dimensions, but the containers you choose to package and ship your products are flexible. This is where you save your money.

Consider the difference in footprint between a 48″ x 45″ pallet and a 36″ x 36″, a 48″ x 40″, a 43″ x 43″, etc. If using a 40′ shipping container, an extra three 36″ x 36″ pallets can be fit per level. If stacked two high, that is an extra six pallets per container. Granted, this pallet size may not work for your particular goods, but the point is valid. Pallets can be matched to shipping containers. If the packaging is then selected for the pallet, you can maximize cube utilization instead of wasting space and commercial packaging materials.

Reusable packaging comes in a number of different styles and varieties. Many times businesses feel as if corrugated cardboard is all they have to choose from. This may have been the case in years gone by, but today reusable containers can be found in countless forms. From bulk and straight wall containers to handheld, collapsible, nesting and stackable varieties, you can pick the container size and style that meets your needs and maximizes your storage potential.

Image

When companies think about packaging and image, they typically think about marketing and advertising. Sadly, this isn’t a cost-saving solution and requires a significant amount of money. Commercial packaging materials go well beyond the cute cartoon character or clever schematic on the box. Once again, the primary purpose of packaging is to protect the product.

Yes, branding is important, but how many people are going to keep a broken product just because it was branded? Inferior commercial packaging materials cost businesses billions of dollars each and every year in damaged goods. The proper packaging will ensure that the product is safe, secure, and protected.

Corporate image is also impacted by the type of packaging selected. We live in a world where the ideas of being green and sustainable are becoming more important each and every day. When your packaging is not environmentally friendly, this sends a message to your customers about your commitment to environmental sustainability. Reusable containers are a great way to show your support for green shipping.

Being kind to your customers is also meaningful when sending out a message of corporate image. This can be as simple as using commercial packaging materials that can be easily broken down and stored, or easily reused, or which meets their requirements for long-term storage.

After all, the old adage says “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” The first thing your customer sees of you and your product is your packaging. If your packaging is frustrating, you’re off on the wrong foot. However, when you are known for your sensible, green, ergonomic packaging and excellent, cost-effective use of space, that is not a bad reputation to have.

When considering the price of commercial packaging materials, there are many considerations that can impact your bottom line. Using Container Exchanger is one of the most effective cost-saving solutions out there to maximize your return on investment. Not only can you match packaging and containers to your specific needs, but the reusable containers send a clear message that you are cost-conscious and environmentally friendly.

15 Awesome Ways to Reuse Shipping Containers

Shipping containers are highly useful for a wide range of industries who transport items worldwide. Despite having such a clear-cut functionality, an interesting phenomenon has developed in recent years for shipping containers, which now have a very active second life once they’ve been retired from active duty in the shipping industry. It’s a well-known fact that the types of steel shipping containers that are commonly used in the global shipping industry are only useful for a lifespan of about five years. Despite being sent out to pasture as a shipping container, these incredibly durable structures can be used in plenty of other ways.

If sustainability is important to you then the idea to reuse shipping containers is a no-brainer. Therefore, it’s not surprising that many of the earliest projects to showcase the utility of reusing shipping containers take on a very “eco-friendly” flare. Along with sustainability, many people are fascinated with reusing these materials because they’re able to gain significant savings of both time and money if they do. Early commercial projects have shown substantial wins in those areas, which means this trend is unlikely to slow down soon. Instead, it’s much more likely you’ll see people reuse shipping containers in more creative applications as time progresses. People tend to imitate great ideas when they see them in action!

Shipping Containers Are Used
as Housing Units

Whether it’s used as an entire “micro house,” or just for a single room expansion, shipping containers are taking their place in the housing industry as more people innovate with the concept. Interested consumers are able to purchase used shipping containers that can be retrofitted into a housing unit. Alternatively, preconfigured units are available that are already outfitted for housing purposes by a third-party. The basic rectangular shape of a standard shipping container makes it well-suited to serve housing functions easily. One unit can be used as an enclosed room, while multiple storage units can be integrated to meet the needs of the occupants.

Discarded Shipping Containers
Become Art

Many artists reuse shipping containers for their art exhibits and projects. They’ve been doing it for a number of years now. The boxy shapes and the fact that the units can be easily painted with bright, metallic colors have excited the imaginations of artists worldwide, who are working on large vibrant outdoor art displays. Container art is popular around the world, with large exhibitions being held in various locales throughout the year.

A Hotel Built from Shipping
Containers

Proving the concept of how far shipping containers have gone in their afterlife is the existence of Travelodge Hotel in Uxbridge, London. That venerable establishment is entirely constructed from re-purposed shipping containers, many of which have been snapped on top of each other. In all, 86 containers have been used in building the 120 room hotel. The big attraction for the company who built this project was that the containers saved them on materials and labor costs, as well as significantly reducing the time required to construct the hotel by a full ten weeks. There are many other such projects currently planned in the hotel industry.

Children’s Centers Can Be Constructed
from Shipping Containers

Using shipping containers instead of other raw materials has helped several recent children’s centers open for business. Kids in Melbourne, Australia have learned that playing in four converted shipping containers is great fun! Shipping containers are large and durable, which makes converting them into “fun space” for kids is really easy. Using these containers is a way to reduce construction costs and eliminate waste. Those are viable goals for many organizations. Several other children’s center projects are now slated for completion.

A Museum That Floats When
Needed

Gregory Colbert needed a temporary structure that could be assembled no matter in which port in the world it landed. He settled on using shipping containers for his “Nomadic Museum,” which he constructed entirely from shipping containers. The advantage of this type of museum was just how easily it could travel from one major destination to the next. Once it arrived, the museum was easy to assemble for an exhibition.

Retail and Office Buildings
Benefit from Containers

The arts community has been very excited about using shipping containers as art. Their enthusiasm has meant that a large number of art displays have been unveiled using this material. They aren’t the only ones who are excited about the potential uses of these materials. A number of commercial developers have also jumped on the bandwagon, using shipping containers to build diverse retail and office structures.

One project, known as the Seventh-Kilometre market outside of Odessa, Ukraine has used shipping container designs for decades. The facility was built this way out of necessity, but has thrived for years, with over 150,000 shoppers visiting daily. There are now several alternate projects in the plans using the same concept, even though the developers aren’t forced to use shipping containers. They’re choosing the material because of the cost and time savings offered.

Student Housing Project Erected
from Shipping Containers

A unique project in the Netherlands shows the vast potential of using shipping containers for alternative construction projects. The student housing project, called Keetwonen, is comprised of 1,000 containers which have now been converted into affordable student housing. The units have been big hits with students. Initially, some students were concerned that the units would be too small and too hot, but, since they’ve been deployed, the housing project has achieved a high degree of satisfaction from those who stay there. The units provided so many extra amenities, that students are now asking to stay in these buildings, proving just how popular this concept really is.

Go for a Dip in Your Brand New Pool

On the River Spree, visitors to Berlin will find The Badeschiff, which translates into English as “the bathing ship.” The Spree River is so polluted that people never swim there. This new “bathing ship” allows them to safely swim inside of what once served as shipping containers. This gives swimmers the opportunity to experience the joy of swimming in the Spree, without any of the danger. Unlike many projects of this sort, the Badeschiff made use of a very large container that once sailed the oceans. Now happy swimmers enjoy the warmth of a nice afternoon in a pool that is known for its innovation and safety. The Badeschiff has become a very popular safety. The Badeschiff has become a very popular

Get Your Espresso from a Shipping
Container Cafe

Espresso company Illy unveiled a cafe constructed from shipping containers at several events around the world. Most people who saw the structure marveled at its beauty and functionality. Kiosks and smaller displays are an area with a lot of potentials to use shipping containers. The lower costs make experimenting with this material worth the effort. As more developers innovate globally, it seems likely that any business that requires mobility and a flexible solution would benefit from the portability and convenience a shipping container can provide for business purposes.

A Gorgeous Exhibition
Space/Observatory Was Constructed

Visitors to Incheon City, Korea get to experience a rare treat. The Mayor of that city was excited about the potential uses of discarded shipping containers. He set his staff on a mission to come up with some interesting new ideas that would incorporate them into useful shipping container designs that helped people experience more in life.

The result of the initiatives by AnL Studios are truly inspirational. They used three shipping containers, which were joined by steps and connected at varying angles, to offer breathtaking views of the world’s largest port. The use of shipping containers for this structure seems wholly appropriate and symmetric, considering what the observers see. The exhibit is a new way of looking at old containers in an entirely new way.

Live in a Glamorous Two-Story
Tree House

Now everyone has a chance to live out a childhood fantasy. A converted shipping container has been turned into a functional, two-story tree house by Golany Architects of Israel. They integrated an abandoned shipping container into a formation with two Jerusalem pine trees to create a unique tree house.

They integrated their construction materials closely with materials found near Jerusalem, so the final composition offers a blended aesthetic appeal. Tree houses may not always be the most practical solution, but the rendition offered by Golany Architects is inspirational in its use of shipping containers in a completely natural setting.

Enjoy an Amazing Picnic on
Governor’s Island

Visitors who take picnics on Governor’s Island in New York get to experience picnic huts that have been constructed from shipping containers. The brightly painted containers keep visitors safe from the elements. This type of outdoor use is a good one for a repurposed shipping container.

The units do an excellent job of standing up to diverse weather, and they are extremely easy to paint. For any outdoor venue that wants to easily add a splash of color and a bit of protection from elements to one of their exhibits, these containers may be an excellent idea. This is even truer when you’re dealing with any sort of maritime theme.

A Community Market Built to Be
Sustainable

DeKalb Market in Brooklyn ran until 2012, and it was an open air market in that borough which was designed to showcase the potential a sustainable market contains. Urban Space was behind the project. They have a number of active projects going and have stated that DeKalb market may come back again in the future. Their initial run proved the concepts of community agriculture, sustainability, and modern shipping container design could be melded to create a useful space for people to shop.

These days, several specialty suppliers offer container market stalls for sales as part of their standard products lines, so you can be assured that the growth in this market is strong. Retired shipping containers make excellent additions to marketplaces of all sizes. They’re also awesome for anyone who wants to build a “pop-up shop” with a bit of mobility. The “business in a box” possibilities are limited only by imagination.

Deploy New Storage Units Easily

One use of shipping containers that really reflects their true nature is turning them into storage spaces. It’s easy to build a shed or garage out of containers that are no longer being used in the shipping industry. For people who are fortunate enough to find containers available at a steep discount, they can be easily transformed into storage units with a small amount of ingenuity.

The only problem some people may run into are zoning laws, but, for people with property in remote locations, these may not be a big deal. There are many examples of these type of storage units and how people constructed them. It won’t be hard to come up with a basic plan once you’ve located the container. All it takes is a small amount of ingenuity combined with a genuine interest in reducing waste!

Shops and Restaurants Offer a Growth Sector in Shipping
Container Use

Shops and restaurants do very well when they use a bit of that “wow factor” to attract customers. One thing that’s always exciting to a potential customer is something that’s a brand new concept. In that spirit, many entrepreneurs and artisans have created restaurants and shops out of shipping containers in the last few years. You know the trend is expanding rapidly when a major retailer gets in on the act.

Starbucks used shipping containers to build a new store in Tukwila, a city located south of Seattle. The store was built using only four containers in total, resulting in a smaller location where walk-in and drive-thru services are available. The project is focused on reduced energy costs with a strong emphasis on recycling.

What’s most exciting about this store for eco-enthusiasts is that Starbucks has 17,000 locations and is an elite company. If they’re to find a lot of success using this new concept, it will help others do the same rapidly. One interesting aspect of the store in Tukwila is that Starbucks didn’t do much to disguise the fact they used shipping containers to build it. The designers stated that they wanted the project to serve as a blueprint for others who may be considering recycled items for construction use.

The number of different applications of reused shipping containers continues to climb. All signs are positive that this trend is extremely beneficial, with lots of room for worldwide growth. The concept of using shipping containers for sustainability purposes has become a philosophical tenet for major companies that take their corporate responsibilities seriously. Waste is a major concern for all businesses in the industrial and commercial vertical. By recycling and repurposing as much as possible, companies reduce their ecological footprint and are kinder to the environment. This is a winning combination that is bound to win more than its fair share of supporters over time.

There’s little question that the projects that have been initiated in the last few years have sparked the imaginations of business leaders to the point where they’re ready to take massive action about integrating shipping containers when they’re able to.

Storage and Shipping Solutions for Every Business

whGetting the best out of your storage and shipping containers and processes doesn’t have to be a hassle – that is, if you’re working with the right products. Manufacturing facilities, shipping companies, agricultural companies – literally everyone has need of quality products that they can rely on to keep their warehouses organized and their shipping methods fast and reliable. If you have such a business, then you’ll definitely want to stick around while we go over some great product options, warehouse storage solutions, and what they can do to improve your business.

Organizer Bins:

One of the best things about these products has got to be the fact that they’re stackable. Square footage is always at a premium in the business world, and the more you have available, the more you can do as a business. These stackable units allow for vertical storage and offer easy access to workers, both of which are attributes that will help increase both productivity and accuracy.  

Stackable organizer bins are typical plastic warehouse storage solutions, and this offers a great opportunity for businesses to customize their storage products. You can easily have bins painted and then applied with your company’s logo, and, of course, labeling such bins for better organization is simple and straightforward.

Metal Pallets:

It’s common to see wooden pallets being used by all different types of companies, but metal pallets come with their own level of benefits. For one thing, metal pallets are going to last longer than their wooden counterparts, and a lot of this has to do with their durability. For warehouse storage solutions in industrial settings, metal pallets are going to hold up to a lot more than wooden pallets would. They can withstand a great deal more weight, resist wear and tear a lot better, and aren’t as messy as wooden pallets can be.

IBC Tanks:

These products are designed for the storage and transportation of liquids, and, due to their industrial strength, that can include anything from food to harsh chemicals and corrosive agents. These storage and shipping containers are also designed to be easy to handle, making filling and emptying them simple and hassle free, but also moving them as well. Some units feature drip bins that collect any spilled liquids and, overall, these products make storing and transporting various liquids much safer and easier.

Bulk Bags:

Perfect for transporting everything from dried goods and other raw materials to loose finished products like nuts and bolts, bulk bags are extremely sturdy and easy to manage. These bags are flexible storage and shipping containers that come in a wide range of sizes, so it may pay off to invest in multiple sizes if you have a history of dealing with a variety of shipment sizes. Of course, shipping the same size load can make it easier to keep up with the product/cost ratio. 

Apart from all of this, many bulk bags feature bottom spouts that make it far more efficient and sensible to empty them of their contents. This means that instead of digging through a bag or having to dump it upside down, you can instead have it held from the top on a rack and open the bottom of the sack, allowing the contents to drain into whatever container or processer is necessary.

Easy Methods for Business Organization

Untitled-2_0001_cost effectivenessAre you wondering about how to organize a business? Keeping your business organized is just as important for success as offering quality products or services, or delivering excellent customer service. In fact, how well-organized your business is will directly affect the quality of all other functions in your company. Efficiency, accuracy, and quality can all be detrimentally affected by poor business organization methods. To get your company on the right track, then, let’s go over some simple methods you can implement in order maximize your business’s organization potential.

Distribution of Responsibilities:

Heaping too many responsibilities and duties on one person or department can result in a great deal of disorganization and quite a bit of communication breakdown. This isn’t exactly hard to understand, as people perform better when they’re not stretched super thin. Distributing responsibilities and relegating tasks across the table can help ensure that more focus is given to individual areas of your business – something that can go a long way toward improving overall quality and effectiveness.

Look to Technology:

Everything from office software to smartphone apps can be used in business nowadays in order to help you stay organized and focused. Recordkeeping, memos, shipment orders – all of these things become a lot easier to manage and access if you’re able to utilize them via technology.  Plus, people can be forgetful, whereas a computer cannot; once information is stored, it’s still going to be there when you need it later.

Invest in Storage Solutions:

Keeping your facility/workspace organized is going to be accomplished best by investing in smart storage solutions. One great product to focus on is the stackable storage unit, also known as stackable storage bins. These are perfect options because they offer individual containers that let you keep stock, or whatever materials you have on hand, separate and organized. They also save on floor space by offering you vertical storage solutions, therefore allowing you more of an opportunity to store even more goods or open up space for other important workplace functions.

Purge Regularly:

Getting bogged down in materials, documents, and other business-related ephemera is a major contributing factor in a disorganized business. To not only keep everything on hand relevant to current operations, but also properly organized, routinely go through supplies, inventory, and documents to see what can be tossed and what needs to stay. 

This helps to cut down on the amount of materials you have to sift through in order to find precisely what you’re looking for, as well as offers fewer hindrances for workers trying to carry out their day-to-day tasks. This will also offer you an excellent opportunity to evaluate how much you use different supplies or how well certain products are selling.  

From here, you can not only toss out things you don’t need any more, but also redirect your buying and selling operations. As a result, you’ll open up more space in your business for new goods, and also be able to maintain relevancy and accuracy within your market area.

5 Steps to Improving Your Company’s Logistics

forklift-835340_1920Shipping materials to various facilities or sending out finished products to various consumers can often prove to be a logistical nightmare. Facilities and warehouses can easily be overwhelmed, resulting in bad logistic techniques that end up costing the company a great deal of money.  Streamlining your logistics process is going to be a major factor in your company’s success, no matter what sector of the industry you’re in. To help you in this regard, let’s go over 5 easy steps that will help you improve efficiency, reduce costs, and increase customer satisfaction.

Location, Location, Location:

A big part of creating a more manageable system of logistics is knowing where to place distribution centers and warehouses. This knowledge will be based upon understanding where your products are primarily shipping off to. Rather than simply picking a few major cities across a certain swath of a region, analyze the precise locations of where everything is typically headed.  This will give you a better idea of where distribution centers and warehouses need to be located, even if it means putting these facilities in smaller areas.  

The key here is that you have warehouse facilities strategically placed that allow for the fastest and most sensible means of shipment and storage. Also keep in mind the locations of your suppliers/vendors. This will help improve logistics by creating a more streamlined process of moving goods from place to place down the supply train.

Optimizing Warehouses:

Apart from maintaining optimal locales for your warehouse facilities, you also need to ensure that these facilities are operating as efficiently and accurately as possible. Something that would go a long way toward ensuring this would be investing in various storage and organization products, such as containers, bin organizers, and stackable storage units. The more organized your warehouse is the fewer obstacles you’re going to have to face.  

When goods can be stored and accessed easily and accurately, the time it takes to process shipments will be significantly reduced, and customer satisfaction will be increased. You can also save a lot of money by buying these products used, and then selling your own similar products back to companies like Container Exchanger.

Improve Software Technology:

A lot of the run-around that workers experience can be reduced through the implementation of various types of computer software. Rather than relying exclusively on people to pass along instructions, you can use various forms of technology that will relay to various warehouse facilities different instructions regarding tasks needing to be performed. Shipments and replenishment orders can be automatically sent to multiple facilities, and transit reports can also be relayed back to various facilities in order to update personnel as quickly as possible.

Timing:

When you’re focusing on shipments, timing is also going to play a crucial role in how well you’re able to manage and improve logistics of your company. Most businesses find it a better option to do most of their shipping during hours when there are fewer people on the roads, such as late at night. This reduces the amount of traffic that vehicles have to deal with, and therefore lowers transportation costs, which in turn allows for more money to be invested elsewhere in the business.

Feedback:

Focus not only on getting feedback from your customers and clients regarding the quality of shipment, but also from employees. Not everyone can be involved in every single level of the shipping process, so paying attention to an individual worker’s suggestion can go a long way in pinpointing key areas to improve logistics.

Eleven Ways to Perforate the Problem of Prolific Plastics

Recycling and repurposing containers and packaging is a great way to make your business more green. Learn why this is important and how to start addressing plastic problems and solutions.

According to Mother Nature Network, the United States, alone, produces over 30 million tons of plastic waste each and every year. Since only 5 percent of plastic waste gets recycled, 28.5 million tons of plastic end up in our environment…each year. Nearly 50 percent of this waste goes into landfills where it will take many thousands of years to decompose. Forty-five percent of the plastic refuse is simply floating around the world as litter with much of it ending up in our rivers and lakes. Other plastics get washed out to sea to join up with one of the several floating trash gyres (floating islands of trash the size of Texas or greater). One of the gyres, the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch, is as large as a continent and is wiping out sea life.

How Does That Impact My Business?

Many businesses leaders are aware of facts like these and genuinely want to help the planet, but they have shareholders, need to be concerned with profits, and, quite honestly, are commercial operations and not vigilante recycling organizations. These leaders want to know about plastic problems and solutions, but still need to take their bottom line into account. How does recycling and repurposing plastics impact their organizations, and what can they do about it.

First, green is the new…well, green. If you want to keep the greenbacks coming in, thinking environmentally green is a great idea. In fact, a survey by Cone Communications showed that “a record-high 71 percent of Americans consider the environment when they shop, up from 66 percent in 2008.” And, it’s not just Americans that want businesses to be environmentally friendly. According to the Neilson group, “Fifty-five percent of global online consumers across 60 countries say they are willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact.”

Simply put, consumers want to do business with businesses that are socially and environmentally responsible. Recycling and repurposing containers and packaging are excellent green ideas for businesses and offer the easiest way to start.

Second, when businesses take green initiatives, it makes their staff happy and that is good for morale and PR. After all, many of those customers who buy green are also your employees. When they know that they are working for a company “with a heart” and that has taken an initiative to help the enviornment, they feel better about their work. This not only creates happy employees, but they share that happiness with their family and friends. Every CEO knows the value of good PR and marketing. How much more valuable is it when that marketing and PR doesn’t cost you a dime?

Third, the bottom line is actually impacted by recycling and repurposing. Used containers and shipping materials can be purchased cheaper than new ones. Tax breaks can be earned through recycling efforts or donating materials to local schools or other non-profits. In addition to all of the good-will you will be earning, you will be making positive financial contributions to the company through lower product costs and tax breaks.

How Do I Start?

Understanding that recycling and repurposing is good for business is one thing, but putting a plan into operation is another. How does one go about making a difference and becoming “more green”? Let’s take a look at eleven ways that you can make a difference on both a personal and corporate level.

Corporate Alternatives

Plastic problems and solutions go beyond the realm of personal consumption. They are also used on an industrial scale in businesses and corporations around the world. The number of plastic items that end up in landfills can be decreased dramatically by reusing and repurposing the myriad plastic containers used each and every day. In fact, the EarthWorks Group estimates that single-use paper and plastic package amount to 30 percent of waste in our nation’s landfills. Consider these amazing green ideas for businesses instead of one-use packaging and storage:

Bulk Containers

When shipping or storing bulk items, consider purchasing collapsable or uniform bulk containers that have been used and cleaned. Since the aesthetics of the container are not an issue, a few scuffs or marks are not going to affect the container’s usefulness or purpose. Whether you are moving or storing powders and granules or manufactured goods, many bulk containers are able to hold over a ton of weight regardless of whether or not they were previously used.

Plastic Pallets

Wood pallets break, absorb leaked material, and are generally disposable. This means you are shelling out money each time you need a new pallet. Plastic pallets are durable, reusable, and already in the market. Reusing a plastic pallet not only saves you money, but it keeps treated wood (not safe or desirable) out of the landfills.

Plastic pallets are also bug-free and deter the growth of bacteria and mold. Bugs are the main reason that wooden pallets must be heat treated. Not only do wood pallets absorb fats, solvents, odors, mold, mildew, and bacteria, but they are susceptible to insects. For example, the emerald ash borer is a pest that can easily hitch a ride in wooden pallets and then cause tremendous amounts of damage to its new environment. Plastic pallets do not allow absorption or infestation.

There are many reasons to use pallets, but no good reasons to avoid switching to used plastic ones. They are cost-effective and good for the environment.

Stackable Totes

Stackable and nesting totes are containers used for storage and shipping. They are made from extra-durable material and have a long life. Sadly, many companies continue to buy more and more totes instead of seeking an alternative solution. Selling your old totes or buying used ones from a container exchanger is not only extremely cost-effective, but it lessens the need for more plastic totes to be manufactured, which is good for the environment as well as valuable green ideas for businesses.

Much more durable than cardboard, the stackable nesting totes stack within each other for storage, but when the lid is added they stack on top of each other. Because they are fully sealed, they can store anything from powder to manufactured goods. The totes are often designed to be used in conjunction with plastic pallets.

Plastic Organizers

A favorite of every business from the admin office to the mechanic’s garage and carpenter’s shop, stacking and nesting organizers are one of the most efficient ways to keep your papers, nuts, bolts, tools, and widgets separated and organized. If you doubt their durability, just think about how many uses nesting bins are good for at the TSA area of an airport.

Next time you set out to the office supply store or industrial wholesaler to pick up some organizers, consider purchasing ones that have been used. They still function the same, but they can be purchased for pennies on the dollar. Even better, you reduced your carbon footprint and took one more step toward being a green industry.

Personal Alter

Polystyrene

also known as styrofoam, is used in everything from packing material to egg cartons and from plates, bowls, and cups to take out containers at restaurants. Consider these four easy ways you can cut down on the use of styrofoam by using your own glass containers.

  • At the meat counter, provide your own packaging. The butcher can weigh your container, balance out the scale, and price the meat for you without using plastic wraps or Styrofoam meat trays.
  • Carry your own coffee cup with you. Almost every restaurant, gas station, and fast food joint will fill up your container instead of putting your drink in a disposable cup.
  • Bring your own “take out” containers to the restaurant. Most of us know if we are going to finish our meal when we go out to eat. Past history tells us that some people clear their plates, and others take half of their meal home. We also know which restaurants provide scanty portions and which go overboard, so you know when to bring additional containers. Instead of adding another stack of Styrofoam containers to the garbage, simply put the unused food in your own reusable containers. If you are ordering take-out, you can give the service person your container and ask that they put your food in it instead of using their packaging. They may give you an odd look at first, but you might be surprised how quickly the idea catches on.
  • Make sure you get your eggs in cardboard and not Styrofoam containers. If you have extra egg containers, bring them back to the store so they can be reused. If you only use a dozen eggs a week, you will keep several thousand containers out of the landfills over your adult lifetime.

Plastic bags

are everywhere. It is estimated that plastic bags are used millions of times every minute around the clock. To cut down on plastic bag use, consider the following:

  • Bring your own bags to the grocery. At the very least, ask for paper bags at checkout. The average consumer disposes of several hundred small plastic grocery bags each year. You can make a huge impact on the environment simply by transporting your groceries in a reusable or greener alternative.
  • Bring your own produce bags. A thin cotton bag (you can make one from an old t-shirt) is the perfect way to transport your fruits and vegetables without adding more plastic bags to the system. Additionally, since the cotton breathes, it is better for your produce.
  • Use your own bags at the bulk food aisle or store. Simply check with customer service prior to filling the bag to find out how they will deduct the weight of the bag for you.

Bring your own straw

While this may seem silly at first, there are billions of straws that end up in our ecosystem every year, and they don’t decompose any faster than plastic bags, which means they will be there for the next thousand years, at least. It may not seem convenient, but once you get used to bringing your own stainless steel straw with you, it will be hard to remember doing things any other way.

Avoid plastic juice containers

Not only does juice contain extra sugar and, often, additives like high fructose corn syrup, but it is missing the fiber from the actual fruit. If you feel you must have juice, modern blenders and juicers are able to provide high-quality juice in a matter of moments. By eliminating just two bottled juice containers each week, you, alone, will quickly reduce the number of plastic bottles in our environment.

Choose refillable metal lighters or use matches

There are billions of disposable lighters sold every year in the United States. Hundreds of millions of these lighters end up in storm drains, on our shorelines, and in landfills. In addition to the plastic taking thousand of years to decompose, the unused chemicals seep into the water supply, and animals see the bright colors and eat them, often dying from this consumption.

Say no to bottled water

Ban the Bottle’s fact page says that “Americans use some 50 billion plastic water bottles annually – that’s over $1 billion in plastic. And we recycle just one-quarter of them.” By taking advantage of reusable bottles, you are are helping to save the land, waterways, and oceans.

Consider using cloth diapers

This isn’t suggesting that you go back to swaths of cotton clumsily pinned to your baby’s bottom. The cloth diapers of today are form-fitted with elastic legs and button or velcro closures. They can be paired with absorbent covers for extra protection. Because of advances in textile technology, diaper materials do not need to be soaked in tubs of bleach and do not create horrible smelling sections of your home.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that disposable diapers amount to over 7.5 billion pounds of waste each and every year in the United States. Not only are cloth diapers easy to use, convenient, less expensive than disposables, and better for the baby’s skin, but they are a great way to reduce your contributions to landfills, as well as your carbon footprint. Your use of cloth diapers might not eliminate the 20 billion disposable diapers that are thrown away each year, but you can reduce that number by approximately 6,000 for each one of your children who use cloth!

The Bottom Line

Millennials are consumers who think green. It doesn’t take a complete retrofit of your industry or corporation to make a difference, either. A small change in your personal and corporate habits can have a major impact on your business and your world. Best of all, if you are using a container exchange service, you can save enough money to have a major, positive impact on your bottom line, as well.