Nuts & Bolts: Case Study
Challenge: Find a heavy-duty envelope with recycled content that could hold two pounds of material and would be a minimum of 11⁄4˝ thick.
Solution: Use an expandable, heavy paper material envelope that was 85 percent recycled and printable on the exterior.
Results: An outer envelope that accommodates thicker materials, is recyclable and remains affordable.
From recycling toner to using recycled content in direct mail, companies across the board are wrestling with how to reduce their carbon footprints while still maintaining their bottom lines.
For the Clearwater, Fla.-based BIC Graphic USA, a supplier of custom-imprinted promotional products, developing a more sustainable direct mail package proved challenging, but possible. The goal was to find a heavy-duty recyclable mailer that would accommodate a catalog and protect it during shipping. The mailer had to allow BIC to print its two-color logo and any other information on it and still fit within the budget. In addition, the marketer wanted the envelope made of recycled material.
Working with Great Neck, N.Y.-based Conformer Expansion Products, BIC chose a heavy paper material envelope that contained 85 percent recycled content. According to BIC, the envelope met the company’s needs because it featured a level of recycled content, expandable sides to fit multiple materials, and zip strips so BIC was able to fill it and still leave the carrier open in order to add more materials if needed. In addition, the envelope was sturdy enough to ship a catalog and additional collateral or samples without the need for a shipping box.
According to Bob Makofsky, Conformer’s general manager, BIC had been using a more typical padded or Tyvek mailer that can stretch to accommodate insertions of various sizes. For the new mailer, BIC chose to use an 18-point clay coat news back material, which is an 85 percent postconsumer recycled content board. The expansion paperboard mailer design allowed the marketer to put up to 1 inch of material in the mailer, where a traditional board mailer is too restrictive and does not work well when mailing thicker contents. Makofsky says, “BIC accomplished the flexibility and capacity they were getting from the padded or Tyvek, but with the environmental benefits of recycled paperboard.”
In response to ongoing demand for environmentally conscious mailing and presentation materials, Conformer and BIC also are working on a polyethylene postconsumer mailer. Ground up milk jugs are extruded into a flat sheet that is then converted into Conformer Expansion Plastic Mailers. “This material is a nice balance of quality product with a high percentage of recycled material,” Makofsky says.
According to BIC, the ability to print directly on the new mailer eliminated the cost for the separate label it would have needed if it had used a box or a separate foam pouch to ship each catalog and collateral.
While it was challenging to find a supplier that offered a recyclable board mailer with expansion as a stock item, BIC was happy with the results and plans to use this mailer continuously throughout the year to ship new account information to customers. According to BIC, taking the time to research available recycled content mailers and recycled paper options was worth the investment. With the growing awareness of how printing and mailing practices affect the environment, more eco-friendly materials are becoming available.