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Polythene Wrapping – How and Why it’s Used

Polythene wrapping is a super simple and versatile packaging material – and it has become an indispensable part of the packaging process in virtually every industry. So, let’s unwrap polythene wrapping, to find out why it’s so widely used, and how this seemingly simple material gets applied.


Close up shot of oranges in polythene wrapping. Low light, high contrast image


Machine wrap: the automation advantage

Packaging automation has changed everything – but there’s another step in the logistics chain that can be automated. Wrapping pallets by hand is obviously time consuming, but it can also be error-prone and wasteful when there’s a lot to do in one day. Machine wrapping automates the whole thing, and can churn out perfectly wrapped, stable pallets all day long. This leaves operators free to do more important work, and increase output.

Read more about machine wrap

There are several kinds of polythene wrapping machines out there. Some “orbit” the pallet, wrapping it in polythene as they go around. Others use a turntable to rotate the pallet as it’s wrapped up by a stationary dispenser. There’s no right or wrong way; some are faster but need more space to work, others are more accessible and cheaper, but slower in rate. It all depends on your needs, available space and output targets.

Either way, automated pallet wrapping is indispensable in large scale packaging operations. By using machine-dispensed polythene wrapping, businesses can save time and money – but they can also maximise pallet safety.

Safer pallet loads

Machine wrapped pallets are super reliable, and the mechanical action ensures an incredibly strong grip on the load. The tight, protective layer prevents the load from shifting or falling off the pallet, and also adds a layer of weatherproofing. This protects the products during transportation – but the secure fastening and moisture proofing also reduces the risk of accidents or damage in warehouses. Black polythene film can also be used to hide the contents of a pallet, making it less attractive to thieves who target products in transit.

Polythene wrapping by hand

For businesses not yet scaled up to automation levels, polythene wrapping can be applied by hand – and not just to secure pallets!

Manual polythene wrapping can be used in small-scale packaging lines, to individually wrap orders with polythene film. Layflat tubing and polythene bags are easy manual packaging methods, too, but polythene wrapping film is extra versatile. With little more than a heat sealer, a roll of polythene film, and a skilled pair of hands, practically any polythene wrapping can be achieved. Although far more time consuming than automated packaging, manual wrapping allows for more flexibility when dealing with irregularly shaped or delicate items. It can be customised on the fly, and adjust to packaging outliers that machines simply aren’t programmed to deal with.

Polythene wrapping as a packaging material

So, why is polythene wrapping such a popular choice as a packaging material? Polythene is renowned for its durability and physical properties, making it the ideal choice for protecting products during transit and storage. Polythene wrapping is lighter and thinner than any other material in its class – which means it doesn’t add unnecessary bulk or weight. This is a significant advantage when it comes to reducing shipping costs and environmental impact; but as we all know, there’s another side to plastic and the environment

Using recycled material

The climate crisis and ocean pollution is slowly reaching a tipping point in the public’s mind. The status quo isn’t good enough for consumers or newcomers in the business world any more – and environmental action is a bigger draw than it has ever been. Of course, lots of businesses are jumping on the bandwagon and “going green”, at least on the face of it. But for the most part, industrial scale environmentalism is kind of an oxymoron. The alternatives to plastic packaging are often worse in so many ways for the environment. But somehow, they’re embraced as a solution. And even the most “eco” product packaging is going to be delivered on a pallet, wrapped in – you guessed it – polythene wrapping.

Maybe we need to get better at educating consumers. Maybe we need to be more honest about what’s going on behind the scenes. But whatever we do as an industry, we need to be using recycled material.

Polythene wrapping for pallets and for products can be produced from recycled materials, extending the life of raw materials and reducing the energy input needed to create them. It especially makes sense for logistics, because it isn’t customer-facing. Issues like material clarity or consistency are being overcome in recycled material anyway – but in logistics, it doesn’t matter so much.

Recycled polythene reduces carbon emissions as well as wastage – so it’s a double win. Actually, it’s a triple win – because any packaging made with 30% recycled material or more is exempt from PPT (Plastic Packaging Tax).

Custom orders for polythene wrapping

Create your perfect polythene wrapping – using coloured polythene, recycled material, and an almost infinite list of additives. Let NPF Packaging design and deliver your custom order, or choose from our large supply of ready-to-go packaging materials. Get a quote online, or call us on 01773 820415.