Returnable Packaging: What is it & Who uses it?

Posted by Universal Package Team on Tue, May 23, 2023

What Universal Package Brings to the Table

Universal Package offers a comprehensive range of products and solutions to cater to your returnable packaging needs. With options including bulk containers, hand totes, pallets, metal rack systems and custom-designed returnable packaging & dunnage, you can find the perfect fit for your specific requirements.

Customizable and scalable options ensure that your returnable packaging solutions can grow and adapt to your business. As your operations expand, Universal Package can help you develop a packaging system that remains efficient and cost-effective.

What we specialize in at Universal Package is custom dunnage & engineered solutions for each of these types of containers & racks to fit each of our customer's specific needs.  Watch for more info on what dunnage is and how your business can utilize our services in an upcoming blog post.

Providing a cost-effective and sustainable way to transport goods, these products offer numerous benefits across various industries and applications.


Industries that Benefit from Returnable Packaging Solutions

Our expertise spans various industries, including food and beverage, automotive, pharmaceuticals, medical, agriculture, electronics, appliances and many more. This knowledge allows us to provide specialized solutions tailored to your industry's unique demands, ensuring the optimal protection and transport of your products. Just a few of the common industry uses are:

  • Automotive Industry, returnable packaging solutions are used to transport assembled parts and components from one production facility to another, as well as, Work in Progress - movement of parts within the facility.
  • Pharmaceuticals & Medical Device supply chain management is another sector that can benefit from returnable packaging solutions. They can be utilized to safely transport pharmaceuticals & medical devices to ensure the quality and integrity of the products.
  • Electronics & Appliance, returnable packaging solutions provide efficient and secure transportation of delicate items, such as computer hardware, appliance part and consumer electronics.
  • Agriculture is yet another sector that can benefit from returnable packaging solutions. Bulk Containers and pallets can be used to transport produce, seedlings, and other agricultural items safely and securely.

How can we help?

In addition to our wide range of products, Universal Package is dedicated to providing exceptional customer support and service. We strive to make the transition to returnable packaging as seamless as possible, helping your business achieve both its sustainability and cost-saving goals.

As we've explored throughout this post, returnable packaging containers offer numerous benefits, including environmental sustainability, cost savings, and enhanced product protection. Moreover, returnable packaging containers also prove valuable in trade shows and exhibitions by providing efficient transport and protection for materials. (More to come on this topic in a future blog.)

If you're ready to make the switch to returnable packaging solutions, look no further than Universal Package. With our extensive range of products and services, customizable and scalable options, industry expertise, and dedicated customer support, we have everything you need to successfully implement a returnable packaging system. Let us help you revolutionize the way you package, transport, and protect your products. Contact us today to discuss your returnable packaging needs and discover the perfect solution for your business.

Tags: bulk boxes, custom plastic containers, totes, agricultural, Dunnage, shipping containers, returnable containers, protective packaging, packaging systems, corrugated plastic boxes, industrial packaging, returnable packaging, Automotive

5 Must Knows When Creating Protective Packaging

Posted by Universal Package Team on Tue, Sep 05, 2017


“Protective Packaging” predates recorded history — some of the earliest examples being carved wooden bowls, clay pots, and various types of wineskins. 

Even though today's packaging needs are slightly more elaborate, the primary goals of Protective Packaging have always been to: contain, protect, store, transport, preserve and eventually sell various products.

Basic protective packaging is comprised of the following elements:

  • Containment
  • Blocking and bracing
  • Cushioning
  • Various environmental factors, including but not limited to: temperature, electrostatic discharge, compression, moisture, vapor barriers, atmospheric, sterility, and pilferage.

Foam sheets, “bubble wrap”, wadded up newsprint, foam and “starch” peanuts, cardboard (corrugated fiberboard) boxes, plastic boxes, metal and wood crates, plastic crates, foams, and more than a thousand other materials can be used to develop protective packaging.

The term “Protective Packaging” includes any materials or devices that protect a specific item in transport or storage. So anything from an over-the-road trailer, to a plastic or paper bag can technically be considered 'protective packaging.

Protective Packaging For Industrial Products

As a basic rule, the level of protection in any protective package is determined by the value of the product and the distribution environment.

And, when determining the type, amount, and materials required to ensure a product is properly packaged and protected, the following 5 items are the minimum amount of information required to make the determination:

5 Need-To-Knows For Proper Product Protection:

  1. 1. Distribution Environment/Cycle - This includes product type, weight of the item, fragility of the product, value of the product, whether the package is to be a returnable-reusable package or a one-way expendable shipment.
  2. 2. Product Movement - Palletized unit by pallet jack, fork truck, or other conveyance and type and size of conveyance. Small packages by conveyor or other means of transfer.
  3. 3. Product Shipping - Small ground shipment via UPS, Fed Ex, full truckload, LTL, air or sea shipment.
  4. 4. Warehousing Length - How long the product will be stored at the customer’s distribution center or the end user’s. Is the warehouse climate controlled or ambient? This is critical to most one-way shippers, since corrugated paper containers are subject to degradation caused by humidity and prolonged storage time.
  5. 5. Packaging Disposal – What is the disposal plan for the packaging after it has served its purpose? For expendable packaging, developing total recyclable components of the package, or Green Packaging, can be highly challenging.  Certain foams and plastics cannot be easily recycled and a plan for disposal can become time consuming and costly.

In a perfect world, every package designed or sold would be unique to the clients’ needs. Whether that specific need is a foam interior tote for machinery, or a plastic fruit container for produce, they each serve the purpose of protecting the client's product.

And while all packaging provides some level of protection, it’s the expertise at Universal Package that can help you determine the right level of protection needed to successfully ship and store your product.

Tags: custom container, Dunnage, protective packaging

The 3 Main Types of Dunnage

Posted by Universal Package Team on Wed, Aug 23, 2017

In general, dunnage can be constructed from a variety (or combination) of products used to load and secure cargo during transportation.

Usually, the term dunnage refers to an interior placed in an outer container, which can be an expendable carton, standard straight wall stock tote, a custom plastic corrugated tote, etc.

In this article, we're going to explore three examples of dunnage-types that are currently available to our clients.

Kit Packs


Kit packs, or component packs, are often created to hold all parts for a specific application — either for staging, or so all components are kept organized and are ready for an operator to easily assemble. Kit packs tend to improve efficiency by cutting down on the number of large totes holding each individual part.

Custom Dunnage


We can design custom plastic dunnage to create and modify a wide variety of packaging. Corrugated plastic can be die cut and assembled to make a partition set, which creates separate cells. The plastic can be either be a basic corrugated plastic or you can opt to add laminations to the core, which creates further protects the contents of the cell.

We can cut Plastic Corrugated Pads from stock sheets that have a brushed polyester lamination to help protect high-end parts, or have a spun bond lamination (for parts that do not require as much protection).

Brush- and polyspun-laminated corrugated plastics both offer a softer cell wall and added protection during loading or unloading. This 'added protection' also helps prevent scratching or scuffing your product during shipping.

For additional shock absorbtion, we can add foam pads to the bottom of a package. Water-jet or die cut foam blocks can be added in the cell to provide even more support within the packaging.

Multi-Material Dunnage


Here at Universal, we use wide bredth of materials to create out interior dunnage solutions, depending on the part and the desired end result of the client — materials such as plastic, corrugated plastic, cardboard, metal, wood, and foam.

Our ability to integrate multiple materials allows us to create truly tailored designs that work for nearly any packaging application in any industry. We can design for returnable racks, overseas shipping containers, back up expendables, totes and containers, to name a few.

The part weight, level of protection, type of handling, storage time, and environment are all factors when designing dunnage and deciding what materials need to be used to protect your products.

Tags: custom container, Dunnage, protective packaging

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