Striking a balance: choosing the right materials

Insulated Packaging for Pharma

Woolcool. Insulated Packaging. Naturally.

Woolcool® was launched in 2008 and the innovative, sustainable design has scooped an impressive haul of awards in the packaging, business and environmental arenas.

November, 2021

Here at Woolcool®, we believe that a significant part of our success is down to striking a balance between the different aspects of our business. First and foremost, our market-leading temperature-controlled packaging relies on expertly balancing conditions inside and outside of our products, whether it’s an insulated box or a smaller package, using the remarkable insulation properties of 100% sheep’s wool.

So, that means making sure each insulated box or package is created to strike the right balance in terms of its constituent parts, from the liner to the outer packaging and the ice packs inside. But, as a business, we also strive to find balance in so many other ways. We try our best to ensure our team enjoy a healthy work-life balance. As a certified B-Corp, we work to ensure that we balance the need to

make profit as a business with the impact of what we do on the community, wider society and the planet. And crucially, as a business founded on a sustainable ethos, we always consider the ecological impact of our work, from broader business principles to each individual insulated box or packaging option we create for our clients and partners.

In this series of blogs, we want to touch upon the challenges of striking the right balance in a number of areas, from the materials we use to regenerative agriculture and sustainable eating. We wanted to share our experiences so far as to why we believe balance is the key to sustainability in both the environmental and commercial sense of the word.


When it comes to materials, balance is everything.


As the founder of the Natural Materials Association, we are passionate advocates of finding better ways to use the materials created by Mother Nature.


100% sheep’s wool is a great example of a natural material that outperforms manmade equivalents such as polystyrene. Wool is natural, recyclable, compostable, biodegradable, renewable, reusable and abundant. It is lighter and takes up less space than manmade insulators, and so has a smaller carbon footprint and so cuts supply chain transport costs.


It is nature’s Smart Fibre, created by millions of years of evolution to perform multiple functions.


Yet, despite the scientifically-proven properties of wool, we still take a balanced approach when we design each insulated box or packaging solution around our wool insulation liners.


That means considering the amount of cardboard, the thickness and strength of the outer packaging and the ice packs inside each insulated box, along with the separators needed to protect the contents.


Extra consideration has to be given to the use of plastics or glass – the balance to be struck being between the ecological credential of the packaging solution and its efficiency.


Pharma products, for instance, have tougher requirements because of the need for sterile conditions, and often require the use of glass and plastics.
Our view is always that the integrity of the contents is paramount, while trying to strike a balance in terms of the green credentials of an insulated box or packaging solution and the efficiency of the product.


So, striking a balance means avoiding a binary decision. For example, with the world pushing for a greener future, we have seen plenty of knee-jerk reactions to get rid of plastics entirely, without taking a balanced or long-term view of their properties.


Similarly, some may be now choosing to use only paper or cardboard in their packaging, without taking into account the significant increase in material use to achieve similar performance to wool, and therefore the waste and production impact attached to it as a strategy, along with the increased use in ice packs to offset the fact that cardboard isn’t a natural insulator.


Glass always carries a high carbon cost, but it is arguably capable of re-use, and there are some applications when nothing else will do the required job. Similarly, plastics are vital in some situations.


Our view is that knee-jerk reactions rarely deliver in the long-term: to get the best solution you often have to have a combination of materials. It’s about striking the right balance for your business, your products, society and the planet.


We have the expertise to advise and help you make the decisions that strike the right balance for your needs. Our mantra is and will always be, the right materials, for the right application, fully researched from beginning to end of life.

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