using millions of poly bags and vast amounts of plastic packaging every year in the badge industry simply to protect badges in transit then all ending up in landfill
to develop a bespoke packaging system using only materials that are plastic free and easily recyclable by anyone
our new, exclusive range of recycled card and paper based packaging. Plastic free badge carriers, plastic free packing materials, even plastic free packing tape
Millions of people in the UK receive name badges as part their job, at a conference, exhibition or at some point in their working year. Millions more receive or buy multiple club / society / company or other small lapel badges. Wherever these badges come from, traditionally they all have one thing in common – the use of plastics in bagging and packaging for each one that is simply thrown away once the item is received.
As a UK manufacturer, we decided to take a lead in designing and implementing a plastics free packaging system that we could use for all our UK manufactured products, not only to do our bit but also hopefully to inspire other companies that there was a better way. A management team was put together with specific responsibilities for finding the best way forward and we met frequently to share our thoughts and accelerate progress.
When we initially researched so called eco plastic alternatives, it has to be said we were disappointed. We came across many plastic like materials with environmental claims that failed on our basic requirement that any company must be able to safely and easily recycle all of their packaging. Some would decompose incredibly slowly, breaking down to small pieces that could then prove harmful to wildlife or pollute the waterways for years to come, others that claimed to biodegrade actually needed to be sent to specialist recycling centres for that to happen, which was a complete non starter as no office would ever get the bulk required to get it all collected. Get the wrong plastics mixed in recycling and it leads to contamination of batches that then end up in landfill. Card proved to be the only true way forward as it is the only packing material any company can easily recycle and a lot of effort was put into choosing the right types that would have the least environmental impact. Even that wasn’t as easy as we hoped it might be as different cards when goods were packed and in transit can leave marks on the surface finishes of our products, which is obviously unacceptable. Our final card choice for mounting our products onto was a 100% recycled card (with FSC recycled certification) also made without the use of harmful optical brightening agents. Combine that with recycled paper and card packing rather than bubble wrap, plastics free padded envelopes, new box dimensions to minimize waste and even plastics free packing tape and the whole plan was coming together.
Focusing initially on the wide range of name and promotional badges we manufacture, the trick then was how to make the system work for all the different sizes and fittings in a way that would not only protect the badges in transit but also improve the customer experience with better presentation on receipt – at no additional cost. After an awful lot of trial and error and investment in our new materials and bespoke tooling for all the alternatives we developed the UK (if not world’s) first practical system for a manufacturer to send out any type of badge, completely plastics free. It’s not only our name and promotional badges we are rolling this out for though. As this year progresses we will be converting all our packaging to plastics free alternatives – watch this space!
From one of our customers who was happy to help with our trials on an order for 2000 lapel pin badges:
‘Just wanted to pass on a massive thank you from our customer. They are absolutely over the moon with the new way of packaging the badges, they really are. They’re all buzzing about it in their office so I think this will get passed around. Kudos to you all for coming up with the idea, we’re really pleased and so is the customer’.
Lois Wagstaff, The Professional Promotion Company