Publisher first to use paper-wrapping mailing machine

Prime Creative Media is Australia's first publisher to send paper-wrapped magazines at scale in partnership with its printing and mailing supplier FSG.

Prime Creative Media is Australia’s first publisher to send paper-wrapped magazines at scale in partnership with its printing and mailing supplier FSG.

Based in Bayswater, Victoria, FSG purchased the country’s first-ever paper-wrapping mailing machine in January. Imported from UK supplier Norpak, the machine’s ability to wrap publications in paper will eliminate plastic wrapping for several Prime Creative Media titles.

“It’s the evolution of the mailing industry to abolish single-use plastics in mailing magazines,” said Michael Murphy, owner and director of FSG Mailing. “This follows the government’s move to get disposable plastics out of our Australian systems.”

Until this technology was in place, the only alternative to plastics for publishers was paper envelopes. Murphy notes this was cost-prohibitive for many clients because the price of producing and printing the envelopes was high. That’s before accounting for the labour of either hand-inserting magazines into the envelopes or using very expensive equipment to insert them into the envelopes and seal them. This added a significant increase to mailing costs.

Mailing houses like FSG have experimented with bioplastics and recyclable plastics over the years, but Murphy said the technology never worked out.

“We tried to use bioplastics. However, the settings on the machines – which use heat to seal them – make it very difficult,” he said. “Even for those companies who worked out how to mail them, it was a challenge for consumers to separate the plastics at the end of the process or find appropriate disposal. Eventually, we saw that the only real option was paper.”

New paper-wrapped technology

Murphy came across this technology through his supplier UK company Norpak, who previously supplied his plastic wrapping machine.

“They introduced us to the idea because they saw what was happening in the European Union with the phase-out of single-use plastics,” said Murphy. “With the Australian government making similar moves towards a full phase-out of single-use plastics, we think this machine will be the catalyst to push the movement in the mailing industry.”

Murphy notes that in Europe, where it was put into commercial use 18 months ago, it has already taken off.

“The first person to use the machine took a leap in the dark. Now he has 13 of these machines, and those plastic wrapping machines are sitting there not being used – they are becoming museum pieces,” said Murphy. “That will be the future in Australia now that this machine has arrived.”

An additional environmental benefit to the machine is that the addresses are printed directly onto the paper wrapping. It eliminates the need for flysheets that list the addresses and are placed onto a magazine. This improves efficiency, as it limits the printing and transportation of flysheets. It also means that only a small amount of paper is being used with the new system once you consider the paper used in flysheet printing. And, of course, this opens up a vast array of options for using recycled and sustainable paper products.

The only drawback, Murphy notes, is that the paper is less weather-proof. In Europe, many people live in apartments instead of houses, and magazines are delivered in post boxes or through slits in doors. He said seeing how the paper stands up to Australia’s climate will be interesting, but he is confident it will work well. That being said, he notes the price of an occasional damp magazine is worth paying to save thousands of tonnes of plastic wrapping from going to landfill every year.

Paper-wrapped Inside Water

Prime Creative Media COO Christine Clancy was on-site at FSG in Bayswater to witness the first publications sent out in paper wrapping.

“It’s such an honour to watch history in the making, to see our publications make this first step in reducing single-use plastics in our environment,” said Clancy.

She notes that the company has long been involved in supporting the growth of the waste management industry through its publications Inside Waste and Waste Management Review and its annual Waste Awards.

“After years of reporting on the challenges of single-use plastics in the waste industry, it’s so wonderful for us to play a proactive part in reducing our use,” said Clancy. “We’re fortunate to have FSG as a partner to help make this happen.”

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