Dufaylite thermal boxes for chilled products
Thermal boxes for temperature controlled goods

More effective thermal boxes for chilled goods delivery


Packaging, storing, and delivering chilled goods is a real thorn in the side of many businesses. If you’ve been in this predicament, you’ll know that the options can be limited.

Getting something from A to B before either your food has warmed, the cooling ice has melted, or both, is the real problem – and the only options seem to be either polystyrene or lamb’s wool.

Do they have benefits? Are there alternatives? Let’s find out.

Using polystyrene for thermal boxes

Polystyrene has great thermal properties - its tightly-packed structure means that it can insulate for either cold or warm goods fairly well, but anyone serious about environmental issues knows how much of a nightmare it is for the environment.

Now, you can reuse polystyrene for thermal insulation, so it may not be as bad as other single-use cases, but it still has a shelf life. Sure, it won’t ‘spoil’, but it will eventually find its way into rubbish bins. Polystyrene and similar plastics add up to 2.2 million metric tons of waste every year in the UK. That’s an astounding volume for things that can take more than a million years to fully degrade.

The items taking a long time to degrade isn’t the only problem: while degrading, polystyrene breaks into smaller pieces that often get inhaled or ingested by land and marine animals – eventually choking them. Without the wealth of animals & plants to keep ecosystems alive, those ecosystems collapse – and us with them.

So, while polystyrene may offer a low cost solution for packaging and delivery, it’s at a much larger cost when it comes to environmental impact.

Lamb’s wool

Lamb’s wool is a great natural insulator. The gaps between the fibres allow for air pockets that help to maintain a temperature – like the gap in double glazing windows!

Yet, for any vegan products, this may be an unsuitable option. While lambs don’t usually get killed for their wool, they still need to be kept farmed and will often be used for meat eventually.

This raises some ethical issues, but there are also practical downsides to using lamb’s wool for thermal box insulation. To begin with, wool is in much smaller supply than other materials such as paper – there are only so many sheep in the world with long enough hair at any one point. And, in order to make a thermal fleece, you need a significant amount of wool.

Often, ice packs are added to the package in order to keep the temperature cold. As these melt, or condensation forms, wool has a habit of soaking that in and then smelling. Soon after, it needs to be replaced. In order for the wool to stay together, you also usually need to put it in a bag – micro-perforated polyethylene bags are most frequently used, and these add to landfill.

So wool liners are partially biodegradable, and that’s a plus, but needing a significant amount of wool and not being easily recyclable is a definite downside.

Paper honeycomb

Paper honeycomb has similar insulating properties to wool – the pockets of air in the honeycomb create a barrier that becomes an effective thermal insulator. This is the case for both hot and cold packaging.

It’s easy to produce to any size necessary, and our ingenious patterns allow for a high compressive strength with very few openings. So, a thermal box with honeycomb lining is strong and thermally efficient.

Thermal box with 4 piece insert by Dufaylite

It still has the same issue of eventually becoming unusable when wet, but it’s 100% recyclable and comes from a much more abundant material than wool liners – not to mention that it doesn’t smell when wet. So its overall environmental impact is minimal, while its benefits are plentiful.

Yes, we’re biased – but we’re biased because we believe in the need for effective, sustainable solutions to the pressing environmental problems we’re facing. And we’re not the only ones who think our products meet the mark. Our thermal boxes are BSI approved for Quality Management, as well as Environmental Management.

If you’d like to talk about how our thermal boxes can help your business become greener and more effective, get in touch today.

11 January 2021

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