NGS Shop – Recycling of Packaging materials

January 2021

I lately received an email from a member in Leeds who, having recently received and order from the NGS Shop, requested if we had considered moving to padded envelopes that were more easily recycled. This is the first time I have been queried on this subject, so I thought I would explain to a wider audience what has been happening on the packaging front.

Plastic is an unavoidable material in our hobby and will remain so until someone discovers a way of making high-definition models out of wax, turnips, or some other natural material. However the packaging used to dispatch members’ orders should be recyclable or have opportunities for second use.

N gauge kits are particularly delicate objects and need the appropriate packaging to protect them in transit. Traditionally (before my tenure as Shop Manager) this has been air-padded envelopes such as the ‘Jiffy’ brand. These tended to be a compound paper and air-filled plastic construction that, as being of mixed materials, could not to be recycled.

However over the last 12-18 months I have been introducing three methods to allow recycling of packaging materials. The first is to purchase padded envelopes that are easy to separate the paper and plastic elements for recycling. This tends to be the smaller envelopes up to A4 in size. The separation method is shown in schematic form on the outside of the envelopes, and members are encouraged to follow these where their local recycling rules permit.

The second method is for larger envelopes which have a shredded paper padding rather than air-filled plastic. These can go into paper recycling in one piece. However, this type of bag is stiffer than the air-bubble sort which possibly may transmit rough handling to the contents and so increase damage. They are also more expensive and heavier which could also lead to higher postage costs and, somewhat counter-intuitively, lead to increased environmental pollution as heavier things need more fuel to carry them.

Thirdly I am making more use of “Pricing-In-Proportion” (PiP) boxes, although this was originally driven more for COVID-19 protection. These are A4 or A5 sized flat cardboard boxes that fit through a letter box and so do not passing across the door-step. They are made from corrugated cardboard that is readily recycled or, if handled with care, can be reused for storage or re-posting.

Not all of my packaging has been replaced as yet – I tend to order in bulk between 100 and 500 envelopes at a time and so some legacy packaging may still be in use for some time.

Next time you receive an order from the NGS Shop, resist your temptation to get straight to the contents and think first about what you can do with the packaging.

Adrian Cotterill

NGS Shop Manager

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