Conventional transport packaging is mostly designed for single-use transport and is often made of corrugated cardboard. Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability LBF, in collaboration with Berges GbR based in Darmstadt, have developed and patented an alternative solution to single-use packaging. A fully material-recyclable reusable transport solution for sensitive goods protects the environment and allows users to improve their companies’ carbon footprint.
Nowadays, cushioning and filling materials are used for transport protection, consisting of plastic flakes and films, air cushions, corrugated cardboard, or wood wool. Recycling the fillers is currently not very worthwhile from a purely economic point of view, which means that modern logistics do not make use of a considerable sustainability potential. The same also applies to outer packaging, since cardboard packaging, for example, is generally used only once. In the case of material recycling, not only the considerable energy requirement but also the transport routes for disposal and reprocessing must be taken into account. In addition, there is a shortage of raw materials, which is currently affecting the transport industry in particular.
Alternative to single-use packaging
Now, a novel, fully material-recyclable reusable transport box, developed by Berges in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability LBF, offers an alternative solution to single-use packaging and the ongoing consumption of resources. In the spirit of the circular plastics economy, the transport box and an integrated functional film are made of the same class of plastic.
In addition to the aspect of carbon footprint and the need to save energy, this reusable box also meets special requirements for transport safety, the institute explains: The box contains a reversibly inflatable air cushion that wraps around the packaged goods when inflated, ensuring a high level of transport protection. The air cushion is made of the same material as the outer packaging, resulting in a complete system made of a mono-material that is ideal for recycling. In addition to pure transport protection, the air cushion can also be provided with a conductive finish for special requirements, for example. To greatly reduce transport and storage volumes in the unfilled state, the transport system can be folded after the air has been released from the cushion. The transport box and the internal air cushion can either be permanently connected or designed to be replaceable. The transport box can also be stacked..
Development partner sought for application
Possible applications could be business to business as well as business to consumer transports. Possible transport goods include sensitive machine or electronic parts, art objects, high-quality food specialties, or other fragile goods of high individual value.
The researchers are now looking for application partners to jointly further develop the transport box. The recyclable transport boxes can also be customized and used for advertising purposes.