What is Pallet Wrap?

Pallet wrap, also commonly known as stretch wrap, stretch film, or shrink wrap is a plastic film typically made from linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE/LDPE).

Pallet wrap is used in deliveries and stretches to fit over goods to provide stability and protection during transportation.

Can You Recycle Pallet Wrap?

In short, yes. Your pallet wrap can be recycled either at home or at your workplace.

As with all recyclables, there are some caveats. If the pallet wrap is inseparably attached to a large amount of non-plastic components, it cannot be recycled until the excess non-plastic material is removed from the pallet film. 

Also, some plastic wrap cannot be recycled to be reused in another form, which includes any shrink wrap involved in protecting health/personal hygiene products, or in food packaging.

Where and How Do I Recycle Pallet Wrap?

You should be able to recycle your pallet wrap quite easily. If you have any problems or are uncertain about where to recycle your pallet wrap, check with your local authority.

Some companies will even pay for your waste pallet wrap to recycle, such as the Plastic Expert. In some cases, you might receive a rebate on the waste packaging, but at the very least it is usually more cost-effective than using a general waste collector.

Not only will you reduce your waste disposal costs this way, you also do your bit for the environment.

The Plastic Packaging Tax

It is important to note that as of 1st April 2022, the UK government implemented a Plastic Packaging Tax. This now means that all types of plastic packaging must contain a minimum of 30% recycled content. This goes for packaging used within the supply chain from the manufacturer to the consumer. 

Under this Plastic Packaging Tax, pallet wrap is understood as material used “for the containment, protection, handling, delivery, or presentation of goods.” However, some transport packaging is exempt from the Plastic Packaging Tax, such as if it is being used to transport multiple items in grouped packaging. 

You can find out more about the Plastic Packaging Tax exemption on pallet wrap and other transportation packaging here.

The plastic tax means it could cost you £200 per tonne of pallet wrap. This example of carbon taxing – which is becoming more prevalent – is a prime opportunity to get ahead and reduce your emissions, which will ensure you avoid future costs such as these.

The Carbon Footprint of Producing Plastics

The table above demonstrates how carbon-heavy producing different plastics is, and converts this into the equivalent of miles driven for a better understanding of your carbon footprint. Pallet wrap is typically made from polyethylene, which, for every 1kg of plastic, produces 6kg of carbon emissions, equivalent to 18 miles driven.

Bubble-wrap and styrofoam are also materials commonly used in packaging and deliveries, as they protect goods in transit. Polyethylene (polymer found in bubble-wrap) takes over 500 years to decompose. Consider using biodegradable and/or fully recyclable products such as packing peanuts or greenwrap.

Plastic Film Alternatives

If you are interested in a complete alternative to plastic film wrap, consider seaweed. Yes, seaweed. Notpla have created a protective packaging film made from seaweed and other plants, which is designed to biodegrade. You won’t incur any charges from having to dispose of waste packaging because there won’t be any! Oceanium is another provider of sustainable seaweed products. Both provide products with a fully circular life cycle.

Now What?

In sum, pallet wrap can – and should – be recycled. It is also crucial to reduce the amount of pallet wrap used, and suppliers of transport packaging are continuing to come up with solutions. 

Some suppliers are investing in higher performance stretch wrap so that less material is needed. To put the potential savings into context, if you are paying 50p per pallet for packaging, with high performance pallet wrap, you could save over 40% per pallet. 

Try investing in environmentally responsible pallet wrap, and recycle your excess pallet wrap to a company such as Plastic Expert.

To order eco-friendly pallet wrap – i.e., pallet wrap which is made of at least 30% recycled material – see here

See this article for advice on how to reduce packaging waste and save you money.

The key takeaway is to use less and recycle more, where possible.

Related Reading

Lil Packaging is a small business which has adopted sustainable packaging methods, and whose mission is to completely eradicate the need for plastic in packaging. You can read more about their story here.

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