Mack Molding rightsizes its cardboard footprint with on-demand packaging


Reducing, reusing and recycling are still big buzz words in plastics processing plants, and that's certainly true of Mack Molding, which has extended the concepts to its use of cardboard. The company's efforts to minimize cardboard consumption in its own packaging of components have been very successful, so much so that Mack, which has been designated an Environmental Leader by the state of Vermont, expects to simultaneously recycle six times more corrugated during the next 12 months, from its current 45,000 lb annually to 135 tons per year.  This dramatic improvement is the result of three steps the company has recently taken to revamp its corrugated packaging operation.

On-demand packaging

First, Mack will reduce its corrugated spend and improve operational efficiency through the on-demand packaging system it just installed. This system produces "right-sized" boxes as  needed for roughly 80% of Mack's packaging needs. Called "Packsize," the system significantly minimizes the need for generic boxes that have to be ordered, received, warehoused, and  ultimately tailored to suit various product sizes. "This is wasted time, space, material and resources," said Jeff Somple, president of Mack's Northern Operations. "With Packsize, we fully expect to reduce our overall packaging costs by 20%."

Mack Molding
Mack Molding's on-demand cardboard packaging system.

Produced by Packsize International LLC (Salt Lake City, UT), the system feeds an interconnected stack of cardboard into the machine. Using a keypad, the operator inputs the desired dimensions and number of boxes required. The machine takes it from there, cutting the cardboard to size and spitting out a flattened box with score lines and a glue tab. Changeover to a different package size is as simple as inputting the new dimensions. Any off-fall from the system is 100% recycled, explained Mack.

From baling to recovery

Packsize not only frees up space, uses less material, and streamlines Mack's packaging operation, it also set the stage for step two - the purchase of  PTR Model 3400 60-inch downstroke baler from Recycling Equipment Corp. (Lansdale, PA). The super heavy-duty baler produces 60" x 30" x 48" b ales, weighing up to 1300 lb each.

Step three involves Rand Whitney Recycling owner and operator of three paper recovery facilities in New England. Rand Whitney Recycling receives, sorts, and bales all grades of waste paper, including corrugated containers, newsprint, mixed-use office paper, pulp, and envelope cuttings. Mack has entered into a agreement with Rand Whitney to pick up and recycle its baled corrugated, which Rand Whitney estimates will total over 11 tons per month.

"Proceeds from the corrugated will offset the cost of the baler, allowing Mack to be environmentally responsible while also remaining competitive," says Marc Colety, director of procurement.

Colety estimates that Mack purchases thousands of unique components from suppliers all over the world, which brings packaging through the company's doors that needs to be reused or recycled. "Previously we were manually cutting down boxes, separating the prime and clean corrugated, and recycling it," Colety states. "That was an investment for the environment, but not to our bottom line. Now, all packaging material will be baled and sold."

Beyond corrugated, Mack is looking into similar solutions for every waste stream the company generates, including metal, plastic, and solvents, with the goal of achieving zero-landfill status.

 

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