The Australian Pipeliner publisher first to use paper-wrapping mailing machine

FSG Owner Michael Murphy and Prime Creative Media COO Christine Clancy, at the mailout from Australia's first paper-wrapping mailing machine. Image: Prime Creative Media

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 this year. 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 the use of single-use plastics in mailing magazines,” FSG Mailing owner and director Michael Murphy said.

“This follows the government’s move to get disposable plastics out of our Australian systems.”  

Up until this technology was in place, the only alternative option to plastics for publishers was paper envelopes. Murphy notes this was cost probative for many clients because the price of producing and printing the envelopes was high. This factor, plus the labour of either hand inserting magazines into the envelopes or using expensive equipment to insert into the envelopes and seal them, was prohibitive. This added a more than threefold increase to mailing costs.  

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

“We tried to use bioplastics but 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.”  

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-used plastics,” Murphy said.

“With the Australian government making similar moves towards a full phase out of single-use plastics, we think that this machine will be the catalyst to push the movement along 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 really 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,” Murphy said.

“That will be the future in Australia now that this machine has arrived.”   

An additional environmental benefit to the machine is that because the addresses are printed directly onto the paper wrapping, it eliminates the need for flysheets – the paper that lists the addresses and is placed onto a magazine. This improves efficiency, as it limits the printing and transportation of flysheets. It also means that only a moderately more amount of paper is being used in the new paper-wrapping system, once you take into account the paper used in flysheet printing.  

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 it’ll be interested to see how the paper stands up to Australia’s climate. That being said, he notes the price of a slightly damp magazine is one worth paying to save thousands of tonnes of plastic wrapping from going to landfill every year.   

Prime Creative Media COO Christine Clancy was on site at FSG in Bayswater to witness the first publications being 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,” Clancy said.  

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, along with 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 it by reducing our own use,” Clancy said.

“We’re fortunate to have FSG as a partner to help make this happen.”   

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