10 Misconceptions About Shrink Wrapping and Shrink Bundling

30 October 2015 //

Packaging ReductionShrink Bundling Systems

If you’re a veteran to shrink wrapping or shrink bundling, the following statements may sound preposterous. However, time and time again we hear many of the same misconceptions that are based on false information, an unwillingness to change or an inability to have necessary conversations. As such, we’ve decided to set the record straight by compiling a list of the top 10 misconceptions about shrink wrapping and shrink bundling:

1. The Plastic Film LDPE Used in Shrink Wrapping and Bundling Can’t Be Recycled and Isn’t Environmentally Friendly

LDPE film recycling continues to grow throughout the United States and overseas, eliminating the amount of film that goes into landfills. In addition, many companies are turning to plastic film because of its minimal environmental impact throughout its lifecycle—from reduced energy costs to transportation costs from manufacturer to warehouse.

2. Film is Weak and My Product Requires the Structure Provided by Corrugate Containers

Consider the last time you went to the store to buy a 12- or 24-pack of water bottles. How was it wrapped? Many water bottlers are able to eliminate trays because plastic films come in many thicknesses and are evaluated in early the early stages of a packaging project. In instances where the product’s weight cannot be distributed when palletized, and may collapse as a result, a corrugate pad or tray might be necessary. During sample testing, equipment manufacturers will explore the best solution for a product, oftentimes coming to the conclusion that a fully enclosed container is not necessary.

3. My Customers Aren’t Willing to Change From Corrugate to Film

Recent corporate sustainability reports issued by large retailers continue to debunk this claim. Besides the recyclability of plastic film, many retailers are the largest drivers of reducing corrugate due to space limitations. Corrugate containers must be broken down, bundled, and palletized, taking up valuable retail space compared to plastic film, or LDPE, which can be placed into bins and compressed.

4. Shrink Wrapping Machines are Expensive to Run and Maintain

One of the biggest misconceptions is that shrink tunnels use a lot of energy. However, much like consumer appliances, technological advances continue to make packaging equipment more energy efficient and less expensive to run. Today, many systems are designed to run at lower temperatures and use less energy than older technology heat tunnels.

5. Film is Difficult to Open

The most common tool used to open packages is a utility knife, which can potentially lead to product damage—especially to products fully enclosed in corrugate where employees cannot see them. Film-wrapped products not only is easily opened with a utility knife but also can often be opened simply by tearing the film. A thicker film can include perforations for additional ease of opening.

6. The Primary Package is Too Complicated

My first response to this statement is, “says who?” Most products can be wrapped and sample testing can typically identify the best collation pattern and design for your product, regardless of shape or size.

7. My Product is Heat Sensitive

A well-wrapped product shouldn’t require a tremendous amount of heat for film to be shrunk. In fact, most products do not spend more than a few seconds going through a shrink tunnel. In the event that a product is extremely sensitive, for example CDs, DVDs and certain dairy products, a forming shoe or tight wrap system may be a plastic film wrapping solution that doesn’t jeopardize the product’s integrity.

8. The Film Will Stick to the Primary Package

While it is true that various blends of plastic will adhere to one another, there are many that don’t or do not reach a high enough temperature in a shrink tunnel. Sample testing will help you identify the correct blend of film. In addition, in rare occasions where adhesion to film can’t be avoided, shrink can be eliminated by using appropriate wrapping systems, such as a forming shoe or tight wrap.

9. My Product is Currently Packaged in a Bag or Pouch

Initially developed for small bags of pet food, tight wrap technology has proven to be beneficial to the growing market for bags and pouches. Once product is collated into its desired pack size, two layers of film are wrapped perpendicularly to create a brick-like bundle that is suitable for palletization and distribution.

10. The Final Package Requires Labeling, Codes or Printed Film

This statement, often driven by marketing or a retailer, is simply a misunderstanding. Much like corrugate containers, labels can be applied to the final wrapped package. Packages that require printed film or a universal product code can still be achieved by using a combination of print-registered film and photo eyes, ensuring each package is consistent.

Have any of these misconceptions been holding you back from exploring shrink wrapping or shrink bundling? Advances in technology and design provide opportunities for many product manufacturers. Contact us today to discuss if shrink wrapping may be right for you and your product.