Tuesday, April 13, 2010

UK Packaging Regulations Mean Changes In Freight Handling For Those In Shipping

Legal Penalties Prompt Companies to Evolve New Processes to Recycle and Protect Cargo
Shipping News Feature

UK – The changes to packaging regulations which came about in 2005 have, in a large part, been ignored by companies in every sector. The necessity to recover and recycle waste packaging has a particular relevance to the shipping sector where imported goods inevitably mean the receipt of huge amounts of extraneous waste annually from the packing of virtually every item of freight carried into the country.

As more legislation begins to affect every facet of business it is prudent for companies to periodically check current regulations, both in their own industry sectors and in other areas which may impinge on their own activities. This is particularly relevant for anyone involved in freight handling of any type and the NetRegs government sponsored website can be useful in keeping abreast of the rules.

Now the Environment Agency are starting to show their teeth and mounting successful prosecutions on those who are ignorant of, or defy, the law regarding discarded packing materials. The past few months have seen several companies receive heavy fines for flouting the regulations, the latest being in Blackpool where the Pleasure Beach operators have been hit with a £6000 fine, costs over £2600 and compensation of £9000 for persistent offences. Blackpool’s principal crime was for failing to register as a producer of packaging waste and serves as a timely reminder for all companies to check their own status.

With regard to freight handling, producers are systematically reducing the quantity and quality of packaging so cargo is more liable to damage through mishandling. Pallets are ecologically sound as they are reusable if of good quality, but now companies moving large quantities of goods are having to take measures to ensure damages to stock are minimised.

A good example of this is off licence and convenience chain store supplier Bargain Booze who have adapted their handling systems after a sharp rise in stock damage due to reduced packaging levels. The company operates a fleet of some 13 counterbalanced trucks as well as very narrow aisle machines and reach trucks at its 200,000 sq ft national distribution hub in Crewe. Palletised loads are transferred by the counterbalanced vehicles to a marshalling area where they are collected by reach trucks and put away within the 22,000 pallet capacity storage system. Some 3,500 pallet loads arrive from around the world each week and are then distributed to hundreds of retail outlets.

“Pallet loads of bottles and canned drinks are easily broken,” explains Graham Woods, Bargain Booze’s operations manager: “Unfortunately if one bottle or can is smashed or split on a pallet the liquid contents spills out and can ruin a significant percentage of the entire load – thereby multiplying the cost.”

Bargain Booze say they virtually eliminated the damages by fitting load protectors to each truck, in this case from Jayline Products. The patented moulded rubber protectors are strapped to the rear face of a forklift truck’s forks and absorb the impact of an incoming load. As the pallet is picked up, the protector prevents the load from hitting the truck’s forks or the fork carriage with sufficient force to cause damage to the load.

With the tightening of waste regulations and the spiralling cost of disposing of general surplus materials it is a time for all warehousing operations to both review their waste disposal practices and take steps to ensure that the downgraded levels of packaging that are becoming prevalent do not produce unacceptable damage levels.