If you use single-trip cardboard boxes or cartons for your materials handling needs, switching to multi-trip plastic alternatives could not only reduce your business' carbon footprint, it could also save you money.
According to research conducted by UK sustainability consultancy Sustain, plastic tubs, trolleys and crates provide a more ecologically, environmentally-favourable carbon footprint than single-trip boxes and cartons.
Sustain compared the two solutions and measured the embodied greenhouse gas emissions for the whole of their life cycle, taking into account all the raw materials, transport and energy use involved in manufacture, usage and disposal.
Based on a useable life of 92 return trips over five years, plastic's carbon footprint is less than 30 CO2e kg per unit, according to Sustain. Using the same measuring criteria, cardboard's carbon footprint is around 70 CO2e kg per unit.
The results of Sustain's research come as no surprise to Nathan Horsfall, Director of Australian materials handling specialist, Optimum Handling Solutions. Optimum supplies an extensive range of multi-trip plastic tubs, crates, delivery and multi-purpose trolleys, tall boys, bins and pallets
"Plastic products from Optimum have a footprint close to 70 per cent less than single trip cardboard cartons," Horsfall said.
"And that makes plastic (solutions) much much 'greener' than single trip cardboard boxes or cartons."
Return on investment
Horsfall said that replacing single-trip cardboard cartons with multi-trip plastic tubs, crates, delivery and multi-purpose trolleys, tall boys, bins and pallets, on average pays for itself after just 10 return trips, saving capital and environmental expense against single-trip alternatives.
Further, at the end of their service lifespan all of Optimum's multi-trip plastic solutions can be recycled.
"Collection and disposal generates an outsized carbon footprint," Horsfall said.
"Research shows that waste cardboard is collected for incineration, contributing to carbon emissions, or dumping which places landfill capacities under further pressure."
Health and safety
The environment is not the only beneficiary of Optimum Handling Solutions' range of materials handling products – Horsfall said the company was constantly on the lookout for solutions that will make life easier for the operator as well.
"The innovative tough polyethylene plastic range has an additional coil spring rising base feature which is a back saving ergonomic design," Horsfall said.
"This durable feature prevents workplace injury by eliminating the need for workers having to repetitively bend at the risk of back strain.
"No power is required to operate the trolleys as they automatically maintain the top load at ideal lifting height.
"(We) also have the resources and capabilities to custom manufacture solutions to suit your application."