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Reusing wraps for moving pallets

Reusable pallet wraps are only applicable for seven per cent of global pallet movement. Image: Bearhug.

MHD sat down with co-founder of Bearhug Pallet Wraps, Tom Field, who spoke about the New South Wales-based start-up, and what it can offer businesses looking for sustainable and cost-effective pallet wraps, which it will showcase at MEGATRANS2024.

This September, Australia’s largest logistics event, MEGATRANS, is returning to Melbourne, bringing together industry experts to explore the many ways the supply chain can be made more robust and sustainable.

In a rapidly evolving logistics and supply chain world, MEGATRANS is rebranding itself to reflect the industry’s shift towards sustainability. Held every two years, MEGATRANS has built a formidable reputation as the leading supply chain and logistics event and will run across 18-19 September 2024. 

Bearhug Pallet Wraps will be one of many companies featuring its solutions at the two-day-long event. The Australian enterprise was born from the frustration of a truck driver wasting a kilo of plastic each day. 

The question that founder Tom had was: “I come back to the warehouse every day, my truck comes back every day, my pallets come back every day, why can’t my wrap?”

Working alongside Motus Transport, New South Wales’s (NSW) largest dedicated craft beer transport company, and some passionate breweries, Bearhug developed the strategies needed for their successful implementation internally, and the systems needed for their application throughout supply chains. 

The NSW-based business founded by Tom Field and Max Higgin was launched in January 2023. 

Moving with reusable wraps

Bearhug’s mission is to make reusable alternatives to single-use plastic viable for every step of a business’s supply chain. 

A single reusable pallet wrap eliminates 350kg of plastic, reducing businesses’ wrap expense by $1350 over its life. It’s a cheaper, more sustainable alternative to plastic wrap.

“The premise of any reusable asset is that you can break down the cost you buy it for over the number of uses,” explains Tom. 

“With these reusable wraps lasting 1000 uses costing $150 each – that’s 15 cents per pallet wrapped. The amount of plastic that’s normally used per pallet wrapped costs about $1.50.” 

That means with reusable wraps you’d breakeven in four months of daily use with an asset that can last well over four years.

They’re often used for pick and pack operations or moving pallets between warehouses, especially from production to storage. 

Users can also hand unload units of stock across multiple delivery destinations and return the wrap at the end of the day. 

For regular delivery routes, some recipients are willing to set wraps aside for collection or return. Even with most interstate returns, Bearhug’s wraps result in lower emissions than plastic. 

Its breathable mesh prevents mould, spoilage and packaging damage caused by trapped heat, moisture or off-gassing. The base straps solve the number one cause of pallet breakage – stretch film being improperly affixed to the pallet. 

A Bearhug wrap takes one person a minute and 30 seconds to apply with seven points of application. Bearhug are also developing automated systems for applying reusable wraps. 

Using the pooling model

When purchased outright, reusable pallet wraps are only applicable for seven per cent of global pallet movement. 

With a lack of other functional solutions, Bearhug’s pooling system is the best way to solve the plastic problem at scale. 

Businesses can make the switch across larger segments of their operations whilst maintaining flexibility and reducing risk by renting these solutions. 

Bearhug’s pooling model provides a common platform for moving wraps between parties without the concern of repair or return. Image: Bearhug.
Bearhug’s pooling model provides a common platform for moving wraps between parties without the concern of repair or return. Image: Bearhug.

Bearhug offers the world’s first pooling model for reusable pallet wraps, allowing users to deliver waste-free pallets anywhere. Like with pallets, it provides a common platform for moving wraps between parties without the concern of repair or return. 

Bearhug products can be reused, repaired, returned, or recycled in part. 

No packaging is used in their domestic deliveries, they use irreparable wraps for spare parts or R&D, and always look to deliver or collect wraps on their transport partner’s existing delivery routes. 

“We’ve already saved 2.8 tonnes of soft plastic,” says Tom. “I guess the more we push out in the market, the more plastic we’ll save. 

“Our goal is to bridge the gap in supply chains and the movement of wraps between parties by launching the pooling model, hopefully expanding the amount of use cases for this product.

“In terms of set up, something being reusable and built to last a long time, is inherently more durable. The wraps are made of polyester coated with PVC. We did some tilt tests with the Australian compliance lab at the end of last year, which showed them to outperform 88m of 11um stretch wrap (~600g of plastic).”

Greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) are often the focus of transport – especially when you’re talking about supply chains. 

“The amount of greenhouse gas that goes into producing enough stretch wrap to cover those 1000 uses is one tonne greater than the emissions consumed by a reusable wrap,” notes Tom. “Our life cycle analysis also factors in return emissions.”

Bearhug’s focus until now has been on getting wraps in businesses’ hands for their internal use. 

Now that Bearhug has a bunch of happy customers and know all the best practices around implementation, its goal is to get as many distributors accepting inbound wraps and manufacturers sending reusable-wrapped pallets to them as possible.

For more information on Bearhug Pallet Wraps, click here.

For more information on MEGATRANS, click here.

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