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Packaging to reduce, reuse, and recycle

When this Nashville-based, electronic-device manufacturer began looking for different ways to protect its fragile switches and circuits, engineers chose a greener, more natural protective packaging design.
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Motivated partly by a desire to protect the environment the folks at Square D a manufacturer of electrical distribution industrial control and automation products switched from expanded polystyrene foam to paper packaging for a large portion of its product line. Supplied by Corrupad (Bensenville IL) the corrugated packaging pads are made from 100% post-consumer waste paper and are recyclable. This and Corrupad’s relatively low cost compelled packaging engineers at Square D to switch packaging. Although most of Square D’s 30 lb and heavier products are packed in Corrupad Square D also uses molded pulp corrugated fiberboard pads and other packaging materials for its smaller products.

“We were mainly looking for something that would cushion and protect the product adequately” says Jerry Lucas packaging engineer at Square D’s Lexington KY facility. “But we also wanted something more environmentally friendly. That’s where Corrupad really stood out.”

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Used mainly at the company’s Cedar Rapids IA facility Corrupad turned out to be an easy fit. Since the heavy circuits and transformers are hand packed it was unnecessary for the company to change any packaging equipment to accommodate the corrugated packaging.

“We began working with the Corrupad product right away” Lucas explains. “There were no changes necessary.”

According to Lucas one thing did change for the better however. The Corrupad protective packaging enabled the company to reduce the size of the primary packaging for some products.

“Because it makes a nice compact package we were able to decrease the entire size of the package” he says. “In some cases it actually decreased the size of the entire box.”

Up to the test

Before any switch was made Square D put the Corrupad packaging to the test. According to Lucas the environmentally friendly pads performed well when run through the Association for Transport Packaging test. And though Lucas hasn’t heard any feedback concerning the new packaging from consumers he figures “no news is good news.”

The Corrupad protective cushioning is created though a patented manufacturing process that uses hydraulic presses to form single-faced corrugated sheet into specific shapes. Because Square D uses almost 10 different inner-pack configurations the protective packaging varies in thickness from 7/8” to 1 5/8” thick. There are no coatings.

Since the switch just more than a year and a half ago Lucas says he doesn’t even look to EPS anymore.

“Because of our environmental beliefs that’s one material that we no longer spec for our new products” he says. “Corrupad hasn’t necessarily been cheaper than the EPS but it’s just as affordable as the other alternatives.”

Lucas says he’s quite pleased with its results overall.

“It works” he exclaims. “It’s a good product. I can’t complain.”

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