Key Features & Benefits of Returnable Packaging

Posted by Universal Package Team on Wed, Nov 15, 2017

returnable packaging.jpg

Wikipedia defines returnable packaging as manufactured, durable materials specifically designed for multiple trips and extended life. A reusable package or container is “designed for reuse without impairment of its protective function.” 

While this definition is accurate, there are few more qualities and benefits of reusable packaging that we would like to expand upon.


The reusability of packaging is an important feature when considering the environmental credo of “reduce, reuse, and recycle”. It is also important to the forward movement of sustainable packaging, since most all regulators encourage returnable packaging today.

Our products are typically designed for 3-5 year programs.  The reusability of these items reduces waste and disposal costs for our customers. Not only does this benefit our customers, but the environment as well considering 90% of the materials we use for our products are recyclable, and can be reprocessed into raw materials for reuse.

Returnable Packaging Engineering

The main function of returnable packaging is to safely transport products from vendor to end user, as well as move product from one area of a plant to another.

One of the greatest things about the packaging industry is that we see new products from all over the world that need to be packed and moved safely.  Because of this, we are constantly learning about new packaging technologies and engineering.

The process for developing returnable packaging starts with an in-depth discussion about the customer’s requirements. Designing a returnable package system can take time, but it is essential to get all of the necessary details to provide a quality product.

Sales reps are the point of contact for gathering the information needed by management for packaging review and design. Our management team then determines if all the needed information has been collected to successfully engineer a product.

For example, a sales rep might ask questions like:

  • Do the parts need to be protected using protective packaging?
  • Can the parts be bulk packed in a steel or plastic container to safely transport the product from A to B?
  • What type of environment will the product be stored in?

And so on. These questions may seem excessive, but are key when developing a returnable packaging system for a client.

As soon as we compile all of the product information –size and weight, shipping and handling, and storage environment, our engineering team will start to conceptualize and mock-up a design.   

During the packaging design phase, durability, function, and ergonomics are all taken into consideration to develop the best product for the supplier and customer.

Money & Time Savings

The long-term savings generated by returnable packaging alone is tremendous. Time spent on written orders and the constant stream of money going out for single-use packaging is greatly reduced, if not eliminated.

The customer’s time is also reduced when purchasing reusable containers. Instead of buying monthly expendable packaging systems, the returnable units are usually a one-time capital expenditure.

These cost and time savings can be proven for any packaging design we offer, including our returnable packaging systems.

To learn more about our returnable packaging products and how they can create efficiencies in your business give us a call or send us an email with any questions.

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Tags: custom plastic containers, returnable containers, reusable containers, packaging materials

How Custom Trade Show Cases Save Time (and Money)

Posted by Universal Package Team on Wed, Nov 01, 2017


To those of you working long hours at trade shows (sometimes by yourself), we’d like to ask a few questions ...

When you're setting up your booth, wouldn’t it be nice to have all your components readily available, neatly packed, and easy to reach? 

Are you tired of rummaging for missing items like an extension cord, your lights, and that little gizmo that attaches to your framework and holds it all together? 

If you’ve previously relied on cardboard boxes, have they ever been rained on before making it into the convention hall?

You see, we understand that actually working a trade show is hard enough, even without all the mishaps resulting from inconsistent preparation and organization.

Now, imagine if everything you needed to pull off a successful trade show could be neatly organized, easily transported, and even shipped? How much time and money would you save at your next show? The surprisingly simple answer to most people’s trade show woes are custom-built trade show cases. They promise simplified exhibit shipment, installation, and teardown. 

The Benefits of Custom Trade Show Cases

Easier Set-up & Tear-Down

When you tear down a conventional trade show booth, you typically need to store all the components separately; but the custom containers we design here at Universal Package have internal places built for each individual component, which can even be numbered — so nothing is ever misplaced. This has the added benefit of making it easy to do visual checks for all your ‘must-have’ pieces before the whole container is shipped!

Our units are built to individual exhibit specifications, and we pack them in a manner that prioritizes ease of loading and unloading. Ergonomics are key, especially when your maintenance team isn’t available. Custom designs mean setup and tear down are a lot faster.

Plus, the containers themselves can be utilized as a table and/or work-surface, making them an actual part of your exhibit!

The end result? Everything has its place. No extra boxes. No forgotten items.

Heavy-Duty Construction & Materials

Our containers are durable and more than capable of withstanding anything the exhibit hall (or LTL employees) can dish out. Made from either heavy-duty structural foam, plastic, or plastic sheet sleeve packs, these custom trade show cases will last forever since the interiors can be converted for when you update your booth components.

It goes without saying each of our crates are built to protect the exhibit and its pieces so that when you’re all set up, your booth looks like it came straight from the manufacturers facility. Additionally, any of the surfaces visible to the consumer can be manufactured with Class A surface finishes (painted, chromed, plastic, etc.), resistant to damage from rubbing, smudging, or scratching.

Versatile Transport Options

Universal Trade Show Containers are custom-made to be moved by fork truck or pallet jack.

Custom dollies can even be added to your container so you can move it on your own without getting the union lift operator to move it for you.

Working with Our Customers

We like to work with our customers one-on-one throughout the build process to get their feedback on design and materials.

Before we build the unit(s), all case concepts are first generated in our CAD 3D modeling process to show how the container will function.

So, if you want to save money in shipping costs and (more importantly) time setting up, dismantling, and storing your booth exhibit, Universal Package’s customized trade show containers are the perfect solution.

See more information on our trade show cases in our product catalog. Or if you need to quote a custom project, our sales team can help. 

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Tags: custom plastic containers, reusable containers, trade show cases

The Advantages of Plastic Agricultural Containers

Posted by Ryan Cox on Tue, Oct 17, 2017


The Clear Advantages of Agricultural Containers

With increasing government regulation placed on food products, food-grade plastic agricultural containers have become crucial to the handling of fruit and vegetable material, as well as other food-grade applications. As more regulations are leveled, the wooden produce crates of yesteryear are being legislated into obsolescence.

Modern agricultural containers are exceptionally durable, made of FDA-approved materials, and are light and easy to use. They’re typically made of injection-molded plastics, which greatly reduces or eliminates the problems of their outdated wooden counterparts. This means no splinters, no nails, and no porous surfaces to house bacteria, contaminants, or insects.

Types Agricultural Containers

1. Vented

The vented version of these containers provide outstanding protection for fruit and vegetables while the full ventilation also allows for rapid cooling, generally resulting in less waste.

2. Solid

The solid-wall versions of these containers are made of the same FDA-approved materials, and have all the same benefits (just without vents), meaning they effectively contain liquids with zero leakage.

Container Materials

Agricultural containers are typically made of polypropylene (PP), which is a food-grade plastic. However, the containers can also be made of a food-grade version of high-density polyethylene (HDPE).

The HDPE version is sometimes a little less expensive, but the PP version is more resistant to temperature fluctuations. This type of container works very well for both shipping and storage of produce (or other food-grade materials), and are available with lids.

Other Uses

Food-grade containers are the standard for handling fruits and vegetables, but they also work beautifully for handling other food-grade products such as fish and meat.

While agriculture-specific containers can be used for other types of material handling and storage, it is usually not recommended. That’s because food-grade plastic is more expensive and is not essential when handling materials such as automotive parts.


To recap, when looking for a quality, food-grade container – agricultural containers offer the following advantages.

They are:
  • Made with FDA-approved materials.
  • Light weight, yet very durable.
  • Easy to clean, sanitize, and maintain.
  • Available in several different sizes for different types of produce.
  • Stackable and easy to handle to improve safety.
  • Efficient and waste-reducing.
  • High- and low-temperature resistant.
  • Space-efficient.

It’s no surprise reusable agricultural containers, made of FDA-approved materials, have become the new standard for food material handling. They’re cleaner, safer, greener, and all-around better.

Having trouble finding the right fruit or vegetable container in our product catalog? Maybe you need to quote a custom project? Either way, our sales team can help.

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Tags: custom plastic containers, agricultural, agricultural containers, reusable containers

What Is the “Green Thing?”

Posted by Jim Kulbeth on Mon, Jun 09, 2014


I keep hearing about companies making the decision to, “Go Green.”  During the last few weeks, I have had contact with various companies, as well as friends, that I have posed the question, “Just what is your definition of going green?”  In nearly all cases, the answer has been, “The purchasing of items that have been recycled, or saving refuse from a home or factory, which can be reprocessed into something else to save world resources.”  I then asked, “What if the cost of doing that exceeded the benefits?”  

For example:  You recycle plastic soda bottles.  You collect them, transport them to a recycle center, which transports them to a recycle processor, who grinds them, washes the product, transports them to a manufacturer, who then makes a “Recycled Product.”

The ultimate cost of doing all of this has saved a couple of barrels of oil needed to make the original product, but at the end of the day, did it save anything?   There were a lot of transportation fees involved in the movement of the product, before and after the recycling process, and a substantial amount of energy used, that is derived from oil, gas or coal, to make it into a new product.  So, did we save a natural resource?  I am not so sure.  What we did accomplish, is the creation of jobs at every step of the process.  We also reduced the content placed in our landfills.  This is all very important, but (without doing a huge economic impact study) my argument is that the average person’s perception of what recycling does is not as absolute as they believe.

Universal Package, as well as many other companies in our industry, are working to protect the environment, but in a manner that is a bit different than the normal perception.  We deal with reusable packaging.  We sell, as well as manufacture, containers that can be reused for many years.  The only cost that can be charged against this form of recycling is the cost to return the container to its original location, for refilling for the next trip.  It is our experience, that once a container is no longer in working condition, a large percentage of them can simply be repaired and put back into service for more years of service, without using all the aforementioned energy sources to make new product.  At some point in time, it will go to the recycler and the process starts again, as explained in the beginning of this article. In most cases, it costs less to repair and reuse than to recycle and reuse.

We can all contribute to the preservation of the environment.  For future generations, we need to start the education process of recycling in the schools, as we did with reducing smoking, and using seatbelts in vehicles.  For the older folks, we have to get practical and just do what is right.  Let’s ensure our generations to come, that we are striving to make a world that is better than we left it.

Tags: bulk boxes, custom plastic containers, custom container, green, environment, recycling, reusing

Custom Containers Improve Return Ratio & Reduce Shipping Costs

Posted by Katie Knight on Tue, Jul 19, 2011

Custom Container

DALE, IN – Universal Package built a custom shipping box for an automotive supply company.  The one-of-a-kind plastic container is 146” long by 48” wide, by 50” tall, it has four drop doors and a 2,500 lb. weight capacity.
By replacing a smaller, non-collapsible container with a custom made, collapsible custom shipping container, Universal Package was able to increase the customer’s return ratio from 1:1 to 2:1. 
This attribute alone provided the ROI needed for its customer to justify construction of custom containers.  

Drop doors on each of the four sides were added to the configuration to provide easy access to its contents from any side, while custom dunnage was designed to hold product securely and safely. 
The custom shipping box is made of durable HDPE with Steel Fork inserts and features 4-way fork lift entry.  Universal Package's advanced cut and weld techniques guarantee container integrity and durability even at extreme dimensions.

Tags: bulk boxes, custom plastic containers, cut and welded containers, custom container

4 Reasons to Consider a Custom Plastic Container

Posted by Jim Kulbeth on Fri, May 21, 2010

Custom plastic containers, or cut and welded conCustom Plastic Container Built for Military Applicationtainers, cost more per unit than a standard container that your products fit into "pretty well."  So why should you pay more for a custom container?  We'll give you 4 good reasons and try to make you a believer.

1.  The most expensive thing you can store and ship is air.  When your products fit into an off-the-shelf container "pretty well", chances are you have many air pockets that you can eliminate with a custom plastic container.

2.  If you stop packing "air" into your containers, you're going to be able to pack and ship more product per cubic foot, meaning your transportation costs are going to decrease.  Whether it's a sea container, train, or tractor trailer, you'll be cubing out the space with product, not with air.

3.  A custom plastic container can be built to fit your product perfectly.  This is going to result in less product damage during shipping.

4.  Loading and unloading parts or products into a custom container is going to be much easier, and require less time since the container is built specfically for the application.  Your product is 104.5 inches long....a custom plastic container can be built to hold items 104.5 inches long.

Custom, cut and welded plastic containers are not the solution to every storage and shipping application, but if you're forcing your product to fit into off-the-shelf containers it may be time to weigh the alternative.



Tags: custom plastic containers, cut and welded containers, custom container