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Green package keeps greens greener

Better cube and easy disposal or recycling are the main reasons why chemical maker Aquatrols added corrugated bulk containers to its offerings.
FILED IN:  Sustainability  > Strategy
Once the sides of the container are raised, the operator inserts the bag cassette into the box (right). The fitting on the bagOnce the sides of the container are raised, the operator inserts the bag cassette into the box (right). The fitting on the bagAt the Pelican Hill Golf Club, Newport Beach, CA, a groundskeeper transfers turf chemicals from the bulk container to a drum fo

If you've ever wondered why the grass in your yard seldom resembles that of your favorite golf course the answer may be found at Aquatrols Corp. of America Cherry Hills NJ. That company manufactures a variety of chemical surfactants and other turf products that are used internationally by greenskeepers. It also makes other chemicals used by companies producing horticultural soils. Before you contact them make sure you're ready to take delivery of the products in a 260-gal bulk container Aquatrols' newest package offering. The company uses the SpaceKraft® container from MacMillan Bloedel Bulk Packaging (Marietta GA) in the 260-gal size for domestic accounts and the 1-L size for international shipments. SpaceKraft is a seamless rectangular container made up of eight plies of 69# liner and 33# A-flute medium. It's shipped knocked-down with an inner bag that has fittings at the top and near the bottom. This 12.6-mil-thick bag is made up of three plies of linear low-density polyethylene and an outer layer of nylon. When filled the container is covered with a gusseted plastic shroud of 3 mils of LDPE and a corrugated cap before being strapped to a pallet. For many years Aquatrols' products were shipped primarily in 55-gal steel drums four per pallet. In recent years though pressure for a more environmentally acceptable container has come from both international and domestic customers. So says Paul Garvin production manager at Aquatrols' headquarters plant. That's why the company now uses the corrugated intermediate bulk containters along with plastic and some fiber drums. It fills a limited number of steel drums for customers who specify them. "We use plastic drums for some of our products and we use some fiber drums for nonliquid products. Today we only use steel drums for two of our products" Garvin says. "We won't use the fiber drums for liquid products because we had problems with leakers when we used them before." Size helps sell corrugated The benefits of the SpaceKraft container are enjoyed by both Aquatrols and by the customer. "Because these containers arrive knocked down they store in 40% of the space required for the number of drums that would carry the same amount of product. Plus these totes are rectangular so they're more space-efficient. We're getting 20% more finished product in the same amount of shipping space that drums require" Garvin notes. Although these containers must be set up Garvin says there's really no increase in the amount of labor needed vs drums. That's because the filler operator doesn't have to carry drum after drum to the filling line. For the SpaceKrafts an operator squares off the box on a pallet opens the bag cassette and attaches a threaded hose connection to the fitting on top of the bag. With the cassette in the box the hose from the tank is attached to the fitting and the valve is opened for filling. When full the operator disconnects the hose pushes out excess air from the top of the bag and caps the opening. A PE shroud is placed over the box and a corrugated cap is put into position. The container is then strapped to the pallet and it's ready for shipment. The container also is economical when compared with steel drums. Even if you include the cost of a dispensing system with every container-and that's not likely Garvin admits-the SpaceKraft is no more expensive than drums. Recyclability important However the compelling reason to use these IBCs centers around disposability when they're empty. In Europe and Japan package disposal regulations are becoming tougher the company points out. It's also true for many areas in the U.S. Garvin adds. "We wanted a package that would make compliance with regulations easier for our customers." Many areas in the U.S. and overseas have extensive paper recycling facilities that accept the SpaceKraft containers but they can also be disposed of with trash in other areas. "We've seen a pretty decent shift in our customers moving from drums to these SpaceKraft containers" Garvin says. "And that's especially because of ease of disposal. Several areas in the U.S. including our own forbid disposal of steel drums with trash so that was a problem for us too." One customer delighted with the change is the Pelican Hill Golf Club in Newport Beach CA. Ben Willard course superintendent explains why the new package helps. "When we were receiving these products in drums disposability was a real headache. I was running out of room to store the empties until they could be taken away" he recalls. "Now I just collapse the sides [of the SpaceKrafts] and dispose of them" according to local regulations. Some customers repack When PW questioned the chemical company about the 260-gal quantities of their products Garvin explained that it was not unusual. "For an 18- or 36-hole golf course many of our injectible products will be used pretty quickly." These are the chemicals that are applied through the course watering system. "If you connect a two-inch line from our container to a sprinkler system it won't take long to empty it" Garvin says. Other products are more specialized designed for use only on putting greens and tee boxes. The 1-L SpaceKraft package is popular for turf chemistry products sold to foreign markets as well. "Quite often our foreign customers repack the products into smaller containers for resale." "For customers that use our horticultural products in making growing mixes they often mix thousands of pounds of media at one time so it too will be used up quickly." Aquatrols' shipping experience has been flawless Garvin says. In one instance the corrugated paper was damaged and torn but the inner liner remained intact so there was no leakage. Similarly the film shroud that covers the container keeps the corrugated from getting wet even when it's stored outside. "It keeps the box from becoming wet and believe me the last thing you want is 260 gallons of a liquid product in a wet box! "We liked this package from the start" Garvin continues. "It's easy to work with and the space savings are considerable. From what we've seen thus far there isn't any downside to it."

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