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ASTM Is Proposing Standard Sizes for Plastic Resin Bulk Boxes

Using various-sized shipping containers creates waste from the box/pallet manufacturer set-up cost to end-user disposal. Producing uniform-sized containers can improve supply-chain efficiency by introducing return/reuse programs. To reduce waste, members of ASTM Subcommittee D10.26 on Shipping Containers, Crates, Pallets, Skids and Related Structures are proposing a “Standard Classification for the Plastic Industry Bulk Box/Pallet Shipping Unit Classified by Bulk Density.” The subcommittee in ASTM Committee D10 on Packaging welcomes comments as it reviews the draft standard.

According to ASTM standards developer Charlie Gunn, an ad-hoc survey, completed by the Transportation and Logistics Committee of the American Plastics Council in 2000, shows more than 40 different box sizes in use by the plastic resin industry in the continental United States.

“In designing the proposed standard unit,” says Gunn, senior logistics analyst, BP Solvay Polyethylene North America, Houston, Texas, “all aspects of the supply chain were considered, including the resin producer, the box/pallet manufacturer, as well as the service providers in the packaging, warehousing, and shipping industry. The proposed 48” x 45” footprint is also used in the automotive and chemical drum industry. It is highly unlikely that all resin producers will use the exact same size shipping unit, but the proposed standard unit should significantly reduce the number of sizes from the current level.”

In 2001, the American Plastics Council asked ASTM Subcommittee D10.26 to initiate voluntary standard classification sizes for plastic resin shipping containers, according to subcommittee chairman Roger Young. “This will be the subcommittee’s first business-to-business voluntary standard,” he says. “Resin producers will have a standard packaging footprint to ship their products to manufacturers of molded plastic products. The American Plastics Council envisions this standard will influence international resin shipping commerce.”

Plastic resin bulk/box pallet shipping units have characteristics that can’t be used for every application, says Young, a procurement analyst with the Federal Supply Service, U.S. General Service Administration, Arlington, Va. “Standardization serves a great purpose here. All the manufacturers are using different size containers. This standardized container configuration will help to cut packaging cost.

“EPA will recognize this standard as a positive step in pollution prevention by reducing packaging waste, reusing containers and by closing the distribution loop in the plastic resin industry,” he continues. “The pallet, container, and cap can be reused over and over to ship resin.”

Gun says the immediate benefits of applying the proposed standard can include decreased raw-material manufacturing cost (reduced environmental impact by waste reduction); reduced packaging, storage, shipping, and handling costs; and increased downstream reuse of the shipping units.

“With the proposed standard shipping unit, the same size container is used for lighter products as well as the heavier pelletized resin products,” Gunn explains. “The net weight contained will be smaller for the lighter products than the heaver products. (Total bulk density range equals 27 to 39 lb/cu ft.) Efficiencies because of heaver loads/container over that of non-optimal containers will be significant because of fewer fork truck trips, less warehouse space needs, lower cost per pound of packaged resin and other considerations.” The subcommittee plans to create additional classification standards for products outside the 27 to 39 lb/cu ft. bulk density range. It welcomes all
interested parties to develop these standards.

For further technical information, contact Charlie Gunn, BP Solvay Polyethylene North America, Houston, Texas (phone: 713/525-4022). Committee D10 meets Oct. 19-21 in Tampa, Fla. For membership or meeting details, contact Tom O’Toole, manager, Technical Committee Operations, ASTM International (phone: 610/832-9739). //

Copyright 2003, ASTM