3rd November. Posted in Insights.

By way of setting the scene, tertiary packaging is one of the three types of wrapping used to protect manufactured goods for shipping or storing. Commonly known as ‘transport packaging’, it is used to protect not only the product, but also its secondary and primary packaging. With the exception of e-commerce products and shelf ready packaging, tertiary packaging is typically not seen by consumers since it is usually removed by retailers before products are displayed for sale. Examples of tertiary packaging include corrugated boxes, wood pallets and shrink wrap, i.e. packaging that is essential for transportation in any production and distribution network because of the benefits in enhancing logistics efficiency.

The main problem with tertiary packaging manufactured from corrugated board, is that its recyclability can be adversely influenced by what is applied to the boxes in the supply chain, i.e. shipping labels, glues and laminates can negatively impact their recyclability. As a consequence, if the packaging cannot enter the recycling process, then it is more than likely to end up in landfill.

Given tertiary packaging’s role in the supply chain, it doesn’t always receive a similar sustainability focus as primary and secondary packaging. The increasing speed, scale, and complexity of modern logistics processes, especially those driven by the growth of e-commerce and omni-channel retail, means that it is more imperative than ever to ensure that all levels of packaging – primary, secondary and tertiary – are fully optimised for efficient recycling processes.

And this is where laser coding technology comes in….

As a sustainable alternative to print and apply shipping labels, laser coding technology continues to provide significant benefits to brands looking to show their customers that they communicate sustainability in packaging through materials, graphics and end-of-use functions.

Being a highly efficient and advanced method of applying variable information, such as barcodes, date & lot codes, QR codes, graphics and sequential batch numbers onto packaging, case coding solutions ticks all the sustainability boxes.

Here are just a few of the key advantages of the technology:

• Sustainable labelling

Typical print and apply, self-adhesive shipping labels applied to corrugated boxes incorporate backing liners with a silicone release coating and are printed with labelling systems using thermal transfer ribbons. Both consumables consist of plastics, waxes and resins and are classed as multi-material. They are therefore non-recyclable and bring added complexity to a supply chain seeking to be plastic-free and truly sustainable. In a production environment, label backing, and thermal ribbon waste can result in thousands of metres of material being sent straight to incineration and the associated transportation of delivery and waste removal.

The DataLase Case Coding solution is the viable alternative to print and apply labels. A recent 3rd party report, commissioned to compare the carbon footprint impact of the DataLase Case Coding Solution technology to conventional print and apply labelling systems, showed a 16.8% reduction in (kg)CO²e emissions on a per 1000 patch/label basis for the case coding solution.

• No more damaged labels

DataLase Case Coding technology delivers high contrast, high quality, durable codes that do not smudge or rub off, meaning less product recall and rework required when delivered to the retail store. Print and apply labels can often be applied incorrectly and barcodes can be covered up by self-adhesive labels or creases can occur thereby making them impossible to read or process, leading to greater waste and reduced throughput.
Additionally, the DataLase Case Coding Solution is ideal for shelf ready tertiary packaging that requires a tear-off perforation. It is not uncommon for a shipping label to be placed across the tear line; when a store employee attempts to open the box to place it on a shelf, the print & apply label doesn’t rip neatly. This can cause damage to the box, reducing its functionality, limits its re-use and impacts shelf appeal.

• Improve air quality and remove consumables waste

As an inkiness solution, DataLase Case Coding is completely unique in that all consumables, such as inks, solvents, thermal ribbons and cartridges, are removed from the production environment. Not only does this reduce costs for manufacturers in both use and associated disposal, it also enhances health and safety. Traditional case printing techniques often use solvent-based inks, which evaporate and release harmful, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the atmosphere. With a pre-printed patch on each box, there’s no need for marking consumables such as inks in the actual coding process, meaning better air quality in the fulfilment hall and a cleaner overall operation.
The DataLase Case Coding solution ensures that manufacturers and retailers can deliver optimal performance from beginning to end. It provides exceptional results for the modern production environment, satisfying the demands for high quality case coding and exceptional levels of efficiency.