Packaging has a direct impact on logistic management - not only in terms of preserving products in good condition until they are delivered to the customer but also helping transport service providers and their customers to dispose of waste materials without adverse impact on natural environment. Both packaging materials and materials used during the transportation process must suit specific product categories whilst complying with environmental standards that are enforced by several developed countries as a form of non-tariff trade restriction. This is why logistic service providers have to update their knowledge of current packaging laws and regulations while using modern technology to design and produce appropriate and cost effective packaging formats and materials. Apart from ensuring safe delivery and sanitary conditions; attractive packaging also attracts consumers’ attention and swings buying decisions.
Manufacturers hoping to satisfy end user needs, minimize cost, ensure product safety and comply with environmental standards also need to understand the entire logistic system, including transportation modes and documentation requirements for different product categories. In view of the significant role of packaging in today’s global marketplace, diverse packaging designs and techniques are now available to all discerning exporters and producers.
“Besides preventing product damage or contamination when goods are transported from factories to consumers, appropriate packaging also helps to facilitate product transfer and warehousing,” said Supachai Chakajkriangkrai, president & CEO of Big Move Ltd., Partnership
By using Singaporean CUBE Intelligent software to calculate cubic meter sizes and propose appropriate Structural Design that is best suited to specific customer needs, Big Move Ltd., Partnership helps customers to reduce unused space whilst maximizing loading/ unloading efficiency. Packaging materials and various container components are carefully selected to ensure maximum product safety. Quick and accurate quotes can be prepared for customers, along with information on the exact product location within the container.
Big Move also has graphic/visual design capability that can help customers to promote sales, provide product information, and add value to their products. Based on accurate calculation of container requirements and packing priority,
“In future, packaging will not focus solely on product protection. As packaging is increasingly used as a major form of import restriction, local enterprises who want to compete in global markets need to keep abreast of market developments,” said Supachai.
EU hones in on packaging
In addition to developing a comprehensive database on international rules and regulations governing packaging materials; Sakolchai Transpack L.P., which specializes in export packaging has also purchased modern technology to design and produce customized packaging for each customer order. General Manager, Wanarath Ratanapratum, explained that wooden cartons must undergo Fumigation and Heat Treatment to eliminate bacteria and pests. IPPC-International Plant Protection Convention also stipulates that packaging materials must come from hygienic and environmentally friendly sources.
EU Directive 94/62/EC stipulates that at least 15% of the total weight of packaging materials with specific inherent properties can be re-used for a certain number of shipments, after which at least 15% of the weight of packaging materials (with 13Mj/kg minimum heat) can also be used to generate energy. The remaining proportion of waste materials must also be 100% biodegradable - into carbon dioxide, biomass and water. Within 2 years after this regulation is enforced, EU member countries are also required to audit and analyze the metal content of packaging materials to ensure that cadmium, Hexavaline Chromium or other metallic contents do not exceed 600ppm by weight. This ratio will escalate to 250ppm within 3 years and 100ppm within 5 years.
“In order to optimize transportation capacity and minimize costs, packaging must suit container types and rail carriages. Renewable packing requires full understanding of every stage of the logistic system, including the needs of final destination customers. If the destination is an assembling plant, packaging and transport mode will be designed to expedite transfer of raw materials/parts to the assembly line while preventing duplication of work,” said Wanarath.
Foam & plastic are out
Aiming to reduce usage of foam and plastic packaging materials by promoting environmentally friendly substitutes, the EU, Japan, Korea and Taiwan have increased taxes on importers and producers who use foam/ plastic containers. This tax revenue is then allocated for waste elimination and pollution control purposes. The EU has also announced the following measures to upgrade environmental protection standard:-
1. General Rules pertaining to packaging standards and waste/surplus materials
2. Specific regulations pertaining to Safe Packaging, whereby the sized and capacity of each package is minimized to ensure maximum safety
3. Rules relating to the process of recycling packaging materials, i.e., packaging service providers must confirm that packaging materials used can be recycled
4. Rules relating to standards for recycling packaging materials
5. Rules relating to the use of packaging materials for energy generation purposes, including minimum energy value generated during combustion
6. Rules pertaining to packaging materials that are biodegradable or recycled into fertilizer.
Aiming to minimize the impact of the above regulations, Thailand’s Scientific and Technological Development y Office has received a budget allocation to assist enterprises in developing renewable plastic packaging, in line with the concept of recycling PP and PS waste materials. Several companies have expressed interest in participating in this project.
Wood packaging rules
International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures: Guidelines for Regulating Wood Packaging Material approved by the Conference on Promotion of International Crops & Plants has won worldwide acceptance as a tool for minimizing the spread of wood insects.
The US Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Inspection Service (APIS) in conjunction with Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) launched phase 3 of the legislation governing Wood Packaging Material (WPM) on July 5, 2006. ISPM 15 stipulates that all wooden palettes, cartons, boxes measuring more than 6 mm (24 inches), as well as wood materials used to cover cargo, must undergo heat treatment or methyl bromide fumigation prior to disembarkation at, or transshipment to, US territories. Internationally accredited logos must also be displayed to certify compliance with legal requirements under ISPM 15. WPM bearing these logos but found to contain insects will also be re-fumigated immediately.
Non-compliant WPM may be imported with the approval to CBP Port Director, assuming feasible segregation from non-approved WPM. Containers which do not pass inspection must comply with legal requirements before cargos contained therein can be delivered to designated recipients. Re-exportation expenses incurred by non-approved containers will be borne by the relevant exporter (s) or beneficiaries.
Effective 16/09/05, Phase 1 of WCM regulations requires “informed compliance.” CBP officials or agricultural experts will give Non Compliance warning to exporters or importers who do not display correct Wood Packaging Material logos.
Starting 01/02/06, Phase 2 still involves Non Compliance warning, with the exception of palettes and wood containers for which Exportation of Non compliant WPM will be suspended in the event that such WPM cannot be segregated. Non-compliant IT and T&E will not be allowed to be unloaded for transshipment, except under appropriate conditions. Expenses involved in segregating the cargo and securing the services of CBP officials / agricultural experts will be reimbursed by the relevant beneficiaries/parties.
During Phase 3 which took effect on 05/07/06, regulations governing WPM will be strictly enforced for all types of WPM, regardless of transport mode. Transportation will be suspended for non compliant WPM, but transshipment is allowed under certain conditions. Expenses involved in segregating the cargo and securing the services of CBP officials / agricultural experts will be reimbursed by the relevant beneficiaries/parties.
Faced with the need to expand sales & cut costs, exporters are relying on customized packaging to meet specific customer needs, comply with environmental regulations and secure a fair share of global markets.