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.

Request A Quote

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

What Is Dunnage?

Posted by Universal Package Team on Wed, Sep 20, 2017


Dunnage is a common term used by automotive and industrial packaging technicians.

Depending on who you talk to, an entire container could be considered “dunnage”. But, at Universal, we primarily use the term to describe interior packaging components such as: boards, blocks, planks, metal or plastic bracing used in supporting and securing packages for shipping and handling.

We can construct dunnage from any number of materials, depending on the final packaging’s primary function.

Specifically, the types of dunnage we supply include:

  • foam
  • plastic corrugated
  • solid plastics
  • flexible foams
  • aluminum
  • steel
  • corrugated paper
  • wood
  • anti-stat materials
  • or any combination of these (and other) materials

Wood and steel are mainly used for blocking and bracing heavy industrial parts, motors, transmissions and similar products.

If recyclability is a priority, corrugated paper can be glued together to make a ‘build-up block’ with some of the characteristics of metal and wood, but with the ability to be recycled back into paper.

Foams lend themselves to cushioning and securing parts in place inside a container. The type of foam we use is determined by the amount of vibration, shock, and abrasion the product might experience in transit.

Our company’s strong suit is designing and manufacturing product-specific custom dunnage. When engineering a package – that is, when determining the design and material used for the specific product – one must take into account the product’s distribution cycle, product value, and fragility.

Ultimately, dunnage is responsible for protecting your parts and products, ensuring they don’t take on damage during transit. Here at Universal Package, we take pride in our work, and ensure the dunnage we create fulfills that responsibility. Feel free to reach out to us with any questions about how we can accommodate your dunnage material needs.

Tags: Dunnage, packaging materials

What Is Protective Packaging & Do You Need It?

Posted by Universal Package Team on Tue, Aug 08, 2017

what-is-protective-packaging.jpgThat depends.

Even the best, most innovative product won't sell if you can’t deliver it to the end user without damage.

There are varying degrees of protective packaging, but it isn't necessary in every case. Packaging professionals can help you gauge your project's requirements based on your application, product specifications and goals.

What Is Protective Packaging?

Protective packaging is used in a wide variety of different industries including Automotive, Appliance, Aerospace, Electronics, and Pharmaceuticals. It refers to the use of various packaging materials to safeguard and shield a core product from damages during transportation or storage. In broad terms, protective packaging can be created out of anything from corrugated paper cartons to the most complex die cut assembled into a steel rack.

Protective packaging can be used either as a primary packaging or secondary packaging material depending upon the products’ end-use application. It can be designed for all types of applications, but the end goal is the same — for a product to come out of the package looking (and functioning) the same as when it went in.

Protective Packaging For Any Product

Protective packaging can be constructed from many different types of materials or combinations of materials. Here at Universal, we use everything from plain, plastic corrugated layer pads, to very complex foam plastic dunnage assemblies in order to create the best option for the product we are designing around.

Working with a company that can design packaging using multiple materials is beneficial in that the potential packaging solutions and material combinations for a single project are limitless.

Over the years, Universal has built relationships with a number of suppliers to offer a wide breadth of packaging material options. The variety of materials and ideas we can come up with to take care of our customers is pretty exciting. We've packaged everything from large metal gear parts, to the most delicate of electronic components, as well as high gloss paint and chrome automotive grills and gun barrels.

What’s It Going To Cost?

With any type of packaging, price will vary depending on the product being shipped. The value of the product usually determines the price needed to create the appropriate amount of protective packaging. For instance, a $12.00 container with interiors isn’t feasible for a product valued at $2.00.

If Apple had thrown the first shipments of iPhones into a box with no protective packaging, do you think they would now be releasing the iPhone 8? Without protective packaging, a product will almost certainly arrive to the end-user damaged. And while protective packaging does not prevent all damage, it can greatly reduce it.

Why run the risk of having to reproduce damaged products, when you can take protective measures during the packaging process?

Tags: protective packaging, packaging materials