FORT MILL, SC (Aug. 13) They may not be high-tech, but rubber bands are proving to be an environmentally friendly solution at U.S. Foodservice’s Fort Mill, S.C., division. Large, reusable rubber bands are replacing clear plastic shrink wrap there as a way to secure smaller product loads on warehouse pallets for delivery. In the five months they’ve been in test, the bands have cut the division’s use of plastic shrink wrap by 11 percent and saved nearly $8,000, according to USF.
"Plastic shrink wrap is made from petrochemicals and can only be used once, but rubber bands are reusable with an average life span of six months to a year," said Dan Harris, president of the Fort Mill division. "We were using tens of thousands of pounds of shrink wrap in our warehouse every year to secure products on pallets while stored on racks, and we knew there had to be a more cost-effective way to manage this process. Replacing shrink wrap with rubber bands really helped bring our costs down and make our warehouse operations more environmentally-friendly."
The rubber bands used are approximately 1/16-inch thick and can stretch to fit around a pallet up to 4 feet by 4 feet. “While we can't replace shrink wrap in every situation, the decrease in plastic wrap use has been significant, amounting to reductions of more than 100,000 pounds of wrap per year." Harris said.