Paper Packaging: Turning Waste To Wealth
NECESSITY has led some creative people to seek solutions to the problems of packaging commodities like gift items, books, food, medicines and other light articles bought in departmental stores and the open market for customers.
These group of designers are turning around materials some companies and schools, including individuals, consider as waste to gold. They go around collecting items like papers and cutting them into different pack shapes and sizes.
After cutting, they stick them with adhesive; turning them to small bags shop owners could use to package light articles for their customers.
Apart from selling these small bags, which sometimes could be used as wraps, the designers often go to the extent of customising them with logos and other vital information. Commenting on how he has been able to eke out a living from waste papers, Obierika said he went into it went he discovered that some small shops were finding it difficult getting wrappers for their customers; so he tried cutting some waste papers into manageable shapes that would assist shop owners as wrappers for their customers and it worked.
“All papers are important. We go to newspaper houses to buy their unsold and also to some individuals whose collections are much and they would want to do away with them. We buy them based on measurements. We get a bundle of 12-inch high newspapers within the rage of N200 to N500, but less for news magazines.
Newspapers are broader and one could get more cut outs from a paper. We also get other categories of papers like computer printouts. “After cutting them into bag shapes, we glue each with starch paste. Starch is lighter, cheaper and more durable than gum,” he revealed. On how he sells them, Obierika informs that the wrappers are sold in packs of 12 to 13 pieces, depending on who is buying them. “A pack goes for N200 to N500 depending on the size.
If well managed, we could get up to 1,000 packs of A4, 200 of A3 and a few hundreds of C4 from a bundle of newspapers. And as the sizes differ so are their prices. A3 goes for N250 to N600 per pack, while C4 goes for N300 to N650, the bigger the packs the higher the price.
“The business is good. Imagine with a bag of local starch costing N10,000 one could get the wrappers done and make five times my overhead. It’s a business that involves steady supply of waste papers, which is the reason we depend heavy on newspaper companies and schools.
Though, we sometimes get computer printouts from some organisations, they do not always come all the time, except towards end of the year,” he said. According to Michael Gbenga, who brands his wrappers with client’s logos, the wrappers come better if laminated.
“I have two categories of customers, the general customers that just come to us for the packs, buy and go to the open market to resell them; and those that want theirs laminated with their logos on it. The laminated pack bags are more expensive and beyond the everyday sellers. “I use different kind of papers, including cement papers.
I do this because different buyers want the bags for different purposes. While traders that deal on dry items like the medicine store or confectioneries go for any kind of paper bags, chophouses go for the ones whose imprints would not appear on their food or change its taste, which is the reason they prefer theirs to be laminated,” he disclosed.
Looking at the business from Gbenga’s angle, one would think a potential investor would need a whole lot of money to go into the business, but Adebola Akinwale says it depends on how one wants to come into it. “ Starting small, all you need would be a bench, a ruler, cutter and a brush.
You may also need a pot or big bowl to mix the starch that would be used to add adhesive on the edges of the cutouts. The good thing about the business is that you can start it from your home. “ I started small with N10,000 from my house, but today I have six people helping me.
And I have moved the business from my home to a rented apartment because it was growing rapidly and to meet up with demands I had to move to a bigger space,” he disclosed. Commenting on what keeps him in business, he said the profit is too attractive to make anybody that has had a peep of it to remain in the business.
“Look at it this way, I bought a 12-inch high bundle of newspapers or magazines for N200 to N500 and with just two or three of the magazines I could recoup what I spent, especially if they are of 60 pages.
With two or three magazines you get 30 to 45 pieces of A4 size bags, which might be sold for at least N200 per dozen; then the question is what happens to the rest that might be in the neighbourhood of 60 to 70 copies? The profit margin is high, but you must work because cutting and measurements do not come easy. “I started the business 10 years ago as a student, but today I am not regretting still doing it because it has provided all I need.
I am married with children, have a car and a house, what else do I need from a business,” he said. According to Teju Adaramola the market is wide and goes beyond Lagos. “I send some of my products to Aba, Enugu, Benue and Ilorin. In fact, my biggest market remains the eastern region followed by Lagos Island.
This is because of the numerous retail stores in these places. Commenting on the reasons some small bags do not last, Adaramola discloses that if any potential investor must be on top of the game, he must try as must as possible to avoid adhesives with offensive odour.
According to him such odour could make them lose clients. “ I detest the use of starch paste, though it binds the papers, it becomes slippery and sticky when it comes in contact with water or any liquid. White glue, for me, remains the best option and since I have been using it my customers have never complained.
It could hold any paper type, including light plywood. “Though we cannot rule out the rains that make those that sell them in the open market to complain of low turnout, the business still remains a wealth building venture. Nobody does it and complain of lack. “With what I spend in a month, I am proud to say my monthly take home outside all expenses is between N200,000 to N300,000. In fact, I must say you cannot do paper business and complains of low profit because there are so many things to do with waste papers, ” he said.
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