Behind The Scenes at Flexi-Hex®

Flexi Hex Products

As you will know from previous blogs, newsletters and our website, Flexi-Hex® eco-friendly boxes and bottle sleeves are now amongst the top sellers in our environmentally friendly packaging range. What you may not have realised is that the Flexi-Hex® team are also based in Cornwall, in fact just a couple of miles away from Forms Plus, in Porthleven.  Their products are very much born out of our beautiful, shared location, close to the sea, surrounded by Cornwall’s natural beauty. We thought you might like to know a little bit more about Flexi-Hex®, so we asked them to tell us a bit more about themselves. As the responses show, they really are an impressive team!

Could you give us a short intro to Will and Sam Boex, the founders of Flexi-Hex®. What were they doing before and what are they working on now?

Will and Sam are mirror twins, meaning they are not only identical but have opposite features and skillsets. Sam is the creative brain and Will is more process-driven and operational. This combination creates a unique leadership team. Will and Sam are two of three boys who grew up enjoying the incredible Cornish landscape, both on and off the water. After a range of professional roles between them, Will and Sam set up “Boex”, a commercial interiors company which specialised in healthcare projects, including work for Addenbrookes and Chelsea and Westminster Hospitals. In 2018, they started Flexi-Hex® aiming to make a big impact on the packaging industry, protecting our planet and its resources for generations to come.

Flexi Hex Kings Award
Will and Sam Boex receiving their Kings Award

Who else is on the team at Flexi-Hex®?

Flexi-Hex®is made up of a small but passionate team; from Bella, our Brand & Strategy Director and adventurer (she’s rowed across two oceans and broken three world records) to Kyle who not only leads our finances but is also a skilled footballer, most recently playing for Mousehole AFC. In Sales, we have Amy, who brings incredible experience as a previous Buyer for high-street retail brands including River Island, and Tim, who is a volunteer for Crantock Surf Life Saving Club. He has heroically rescued two individuals from treacherous rip currents along the north coast in just the past year!

Flexi Hex Team
The Flexi-Hex® Team

Could you tell us a little about your production process? What are the key steps in actually making a Flexi-Hex® sleeve?

We manufacture with suppliers in both India and China who make our sleeves using FSC Certified, 100% recycled paper. The honeycomb is an incredibly strong structure, it’s commonly seen stretched inside doors for example. However, Flexi-Hex® approached the material differently by placing two layers of honeycomb between two card rails to create our patented sleeve.

Flexi-Hex® was originally designed to protect surfboards, now many of our customers use it to protect bottles. That’s quite a change. Are there any products Flexi-Hex® has been used to protect that have surprised you?

That’s the beauty of Flexi Hex®. Really any product can be placed inside the sleeve thanks to its flexibility. We have heard of lots of surprising uses, including ceramic lampshades, sunglasses and large bits of timber used for fireplaces. There are so many industries we could use our packaging in. It’s hard to keep the team focussed on tackling one industry at a time!

What has been the biggest challenge for you all in getting Flexi-Hex® to where it is today?

The packaging sector is a multi-billion-dollar market, requiring economies of scale for sustainable profitability. As we grow, striking the right balance in pricing proves challenging. We aim to remain competitive against plastic alternatives while ensuring our business turns a profit. Navigating this has been a learning journey.

What are the main selling points for Flexi-Hex® other than sustainability?

We love that question, as there are lots. For example, the strength of our sleeves has proven to reduce breakage rates in the drinks industry to less than 0.5%. Also, our sleeves are incredibly compact, with our Mini Sleeves being 4x more compact than moulded pulp and bubble wrap, saving costs in storage and shipping.

Flexi Hex Demo
Some of the Flexi-Hex® range in action

You are famed for being innovative – can you mention any ideas you are currently working on? Are there any other packaging problems you’d like to be able to solve?

You know when you receive a massive box with two or three items enclosed and lots of void fill? It’s frustrating, isn’t it? We are trying to design a simple and protective box solution, using Flexi-Hex® inside, that allows not only multiple SKUs but multiple variations of SKUs to be placed within and safely sent through the post/courier network. We hope to reveal our design soon!

Finally, Flexi-Hex® is replacing Bubble Wrap for many users. How would you suggest Flexi-Hex® users replace the stress relief benefit of popping Bubble Wrap?

Ha-ha! Well, we find that Flexi-Hex® is just as tactile and stress-relieving. A little like an accordion, you can’t help but open and close it and try to twist it. Try it for yourself! 

If you would like to know more about the Flexi-Hex® packaging we stock, take a look at the Eco Friendly Packaging pages on our website or get in touch. We’d be happy to help you understand the product better, and see how it might work for your needs.

Letterbox Packaging – How to Make Sure Your Delivery Fits

Letterbox Packaging

As we find ourselves making our way to recycling centres, with boot loads of cardboard from our Christmas Deliveries, you may well be wondering how to cut down the sheer volume of packaging that your organisation is shipping.  Could your packaging be reduced to something that fits through a letterbox? And why would you consider going for the more compact option? There are plenty of good reasons to do so, as we shall now explore. 

Letterbox Packaging is More Sustainable

From an environmental point of view, the marked increase in online shopping since the pandemic, brings with it concern both about the amount of material used to ship products, and the carbon involved in driving so many, sometimes almost empty, boxes around. To add to the reduction in packaging volume, being able to slip the package through the letterbox, means that if the customer is not home, the courier does not need to make more than one attempt to deliver, reducing carbon emissions even further. Letterbox deliveries can make for a far more sustainable delivery option.   

Letterbox Packaging is More Convenient

As more people have gone back to work in offices, it has also become harder to make sure deliveries are left safely. Whilst it might be OK for packages to pile up in a porch in a remote, rural environment, these deliveries may be at risk in a busier street with people walking past.  With letterbox packaging, customers do not need to be at home to receive the delivery, the parcel can safely be pushed through your door. Given that most consumers say that convenience is the main reason they shop online, avoiding any delivery issues by making sure your package fits easily through their door, is a powerful reason to opt for letterbox packaging if you can.

Global Data’s ‘Foresights: Letterbox Packaging’ report, reveals that the sustainability and convenience of packaging is more important to consumers than appearance. Over three quarters of consumers want their packaging to be easy to recycle, 74% want it to avoid wastage and 73% want it to be easy to use.

Global Data’s ‘Foresights: Letterbox Packaging

What Kind of Products Can Fit Through a Letterbox?

Realising the benefits of compact packaging, many companies have already made the switch, including some with products you really would be surprised to discover can fit!  Letterbox Flowers are now available from many florists, including Bloom and Wild.  Laundry detergent can arrive through your letterbox as capsules from SMOL or eco sheets from Earth Breeze as a subscription item, so you never need to carry heavy bottles home from the supermarket again. Treatbox offer a selection of gifts in a letterbox friendly package, guaranteed to cheer anyone up. Perhaps more surprisingly, even bottles of wine are now being delivered through letterboxes!

Postal Boxes 2

Which Packaging from Forms Plus is Letterbox Friendly?

In the UK, the standard size of a letterbox is usually around 254mm x 38mm, so your box must be smaller than these dimensions.  At Forms Plus, we stock a range of Postal Boxes that will fit through easily.  These include our Postal Boxes – Small, Postal Boxes – C6, Postal Boxes – DL, Postal Boxes – C5 and Postal Boxes – Mini. Alternatively, you could go for a Padded Envelope within those size limits, or a Kraft Mailing Bag.

If you would like to discuss the best packaging option to choose, to help you make your deliveries letterbox friendly, do get in touch and our experienced team will be happy to help.

Is It Time To Update Your Packaging to  Flexi-Hex®?

Flexi-Hex Eco Friendly Bottle Packaging

As Christmas approaches and thoughts move to stocking up with packaging for the busy weeks ahead, we thought we would take a look at why now might be a great time to upgrade to eco-friendly options, and introduce you to the latest products in our Flexi-Hex® range. With 8 out of 10 UK consumers surveyed saying they prefer to receive goods in environmentally friendly packaging materials (Statista 2022), now might be the time to make the switch.  

The Christmas season is a pivotal time to make a lasting impression on your customers. People who come to you for gifts this year could either just buy from you once, or if they are impressed, come back time-after-time with a significant lifetime value to your company.  Online shoppers will be bombarded with parcels between now and December. Your choice of packaging is no longer just about protecting the products you are sending out. It is the first interaction many customers have with your brand. This is your chance to stand out from the masses and be remembered next time they are looking to place an order.

Flexi-Hex Eco Friendly Bottle Packaging

At Forms Plus, we stock a wide range of eco-friendly packaging including lightweight, paper-based, honeycomb protective packaging options from Flexi-Hex®.  With a beautiful, visually striking design, the sleeves, wraps and boxes can even be customised with your own logo or message.

Not just a pretty face, Flexi-Hex® is renowned for its strength and offers exceptional protection for bottles, glass jars, cosmetics or other fragile gifts.  Sleeves are available in four sizes and can be used either with Flexi-Hex® pinch top boxes, caps and wraps or other packaging of your choice. Bottle Kits are also available to carry single bottles, or packs of up to 6 bottles at a time. These are perfect for shipping wine or spirits.   

Flexi-Hex Eco Friendly Bottle Packaging

Flexi-Hex® packaging has impeccable environmental credentials.  It is entirely plastic free, made from sustainable recycled paper, recyclable, biodegradable and compostable. The sleeves and kits arrive with you packed flat, are easy to assemble and efficient to ship, saving you storage and shipping costs.

In summary, sending your customers their order packed in Flexi-Hex® ensures the goods arrive in once piece, look stunning, create a memorable unboxing experience for their recipient and show that your company cares about your impact on the environment. Is it time for you to make the switch?  If you are thinking about it and we can help, do get in touch.  

Envelopes and Postal Boxes – What Sizes Are Available and How To Choose

Postal Boxes 2

Forms Plus stock a wide range of packaging materials suitable for e-commerce business.  We get asked a lot about how to choose the right kind of packaging, and particularly, how to choose the size. Paying attention to the type and size of the box or envelopes you use to despatch your products can help you save money on shipping costs and reduce your company’s impact on the environment. In this blog, we’ll explain why, and help you choose the right packaging for your e-commerce business. 

Environmental Envelope and Box Considerations

Let’s look first at environmental impact. When sending out e-commerce products, there are two main areas to consider to make sure your packaging is eco-friendly.  First, you will want to look at the packaging itself. Is it fully biodegradable? Plastic free? Recycled? Recyclable?  We offer a few options.

Our Eco Postal Boxes are biodegradable, recyclable with normal household recycling and made from sustainable material that does not deplete or degrade the environment.  The cardboard used in them is sourced with FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification.

Enviroflute Padded Envelopes are a more environmentally friendly alternative to the traditional Jiffy Bag. Recognised as the world’s most eco-friendly padded envelope, they are fully biodegradable, plastic free, recyclable, and made from FSC accredited paper.  

Traditional, bubble-lined Padded Envelopes are another option for various items. They come in traditional gold or white, can be separated for recycling and are made using FSC accredited paper.

Secondly, choosing the right size of packaging will also help reduce your impact on the environment. Over-packaging, where a tiny item like a lipstick is either rattling around in a big cardboard box or packed in with bubble wrap or reams of paper, not only results in more waste, but burns more carbon to produce, recycle and transport. Choose the box or envelope that is the smallest size you can, and not only do you reduce wastage of packaging materials, the carbon footprint of your delivery will come down. If everyone were to do this, it would eventually result in fewer delivery vehicles on the road. 

Royal Mail Letter and Parcel Sizing

Whilst making sure your packaging is as environmentally friendly as possible, you will also want to make sure you are being efficient and saving where you can on shipping costs.

Royal Mail charges for letters and parcels according to its PiP system. This stands for Pricing in Proportion. We stock envelopes and boxes to fit four levels of PiP pricing – Letter, Large Letter, Small Parcel, and Medium Parcel.  The tables below show the internal dimensions of all our envelopes and boxes, and which Royal Mail pricing bracket they fall into.  Simply measure the product you want to ship, check its weight and order the smallest packaging option that offers the level of protection you need.

Royal Mail Large Letter packaging is ideal for sending something like a book, small fashion accessories, jewellery, flyers, or documents.  The package can be up to 2.5cm thick, so you could use a postal box or one of the larger envelopes.

Royal Mail Small Parcels are a bit bigger. These are suitable for sending clothes, shoes, or similar products. This is the preferred size for many e-commerce retailers. For bulkier items, you may need to go up to Medium Parcel. 

By using packaging that meets Royal Mail’s standard sizes, you can keep shipping costs down. If you are shipping out similar-sized items regularly, keeping to the smallest Royal Mail option will help you make substantial savings over the year. 

Other Sizing Considerations

Whilst the environment, and cost efficiency are highly significant when choosing the right packaging, protecting your product will be your ultimate goal.  The packaging should be snug, so your items do not move around inside and get damaged. It will also need to offer an appropriate level of padding and protection for your goods. You may want it to be easy to open and reseal for potential returns.

A further consideration could be how you expect your packages to ultimately be delivered. For smaller goods, many customers will prefer a letterbox sized parcel that can fit through their door, so they do not have to be home to take delivery.  UK letterboxes come in varying sizes, but the most common size is 254mm x 38mm. Anything up to a Size G in our envelope range should fit through a letterbox. E-commerce companies are now offering “letterbox flowers”, “letterbox hampers” and even, ingeniously, “letterbox wine” to ensure their clients do not miss out on deliveries!

Why is it important to choose the right size of packaging?

We have identified several good reasons for making sure you choose exactly the right size envelope or postal box. Your products will be better protected on their journey to the customer. You will save money on shipping costs. The impact of your shipping on the environment will be reduced – and you might even want to make sure you fit through their letterbox.

Use the tables below to see the full range of envelope and box sizes available from Forms Plus, and the type of packaging we have in those size.

Do get in touch if we can help you further. 

Envelope Sizes

Approx Internal SizeForms Plus Size NameSize also known asOptionsCreative UsesRoyal Mail size / weight limit
110 x 165mmSize AC6Padded White or GoldGift Cards / Place Mats / Cosmetics / JewelleryLetter
(up to 100g)
120 x 215mmSize BDLPadded White or GoldMobile Case / Cards / Cosmetics / Jewellery / BatteriesLetter
(up to 100g)
150 x 215mmSize CC5Padded White or GoldA5 Documents / Cosmetics / Cards / Photos / Purse / Wallet / StationeryLetter
(up to 100g)
180 x 265mmSize DPadded White or GoldCosmetics / Cards / Books / Stationery / Purse / WalletLarge Letter
(up to 750g)
220 x 265mmSize EPadded White or GoldCandle / Photos / Cards / Book / Craft Supplies / Chocolate / Perfume / AftershaveLarge Letter
(up to 750g)
230 x 335mmSize FC4Padded White or GoldA4 Pads / Magazines / A4 Documents / Clothing / Toiletries / Craft Supplies / BookLarge Letter
(up to 750g)
240 x 335mmSize GPadded White or GoldClothing / Craft Supplies / Toiletries / Book / Photo FrameLarge Letter
(up to 750g)
270 x 360mmSize HPadded White or GoldClothing / Craft Supplies / Toiletries / Photo Frame / MagazinesSmall Parcel
(up to 2kg)
300 x 445mmSize JPadded White or GoldCalendar / Craft Supplies / ClothingSmall Parcel
(up to 2kg)
350 x 470mmSize KC3Padded White or GoldA3 Documents / ClothingMedium Parcel
(up to 20kg)
324 x 229mmC4C4All Board or Board BackedA4 Documents / Greetings CardsLarge Letter
(up to 750g)
229 x 162mmC5C5All Board or Board BackedA5 Documents / Greetings CardsLetter
(up to 100g)
240 x 165mmC5+C5Board BackedA5 Documents / Greeting CardsLetter
(up to 100g)

Postal Box Sizes

SizeForms Plus Size NameSize also known asOptionsCreative UsesRoyal Mail size / weight limit
101 x 101mm x 20mmPostal Boxes Size 1SmallEco Postal BoxesGift Cards / Cosmetics / Jewellery / Place MatsLarge Letter (up to 750g)
163 x 112mm x 20mmPostal Boxes Size 2C6Eco Postal BoxesMobile Case / Cosmetics / Jewellery / Cards / Books / Photos / Stationery / Purse / Wallet / BatteriesLarge Letter (up to 750g)
218 x 108mm x 20mmPostal Boxes Size 3DLEco Postal BoxesCosmetics / Jewellery / Cards / Books / Photos Stationery / Purse / WalletLarge Letter (up to 750g)
225 x 160mm x 20mmPostal Boxes Size 4C5Eco Postal BoxesCosmetics / Jewellery / Cards / Books / Photos Stationery / Purse / Wallet / Gloves / HatLarge Letter (up to 750g)
202 x 143mm x 66mmPostal Boxes Size 5MiniEco Postal BoxesCandles / Photos / Cards / Books / Cosmetics / Mens Grooming / Toiletries / Stationery / Craft Supplies / Chocolates / PerfumeSmall Parcel (up to 2kg)
334 x 202 x 66mmPostal Boxes Size 7MidiEco Postal BoxesCosmetic sets / Books / Photo Frames / Hair Products / Stationery / T-ShirtsSmall Parcel (up to 2kg)
325 x 225mm x 20mmPostal Boxes Size 8C4Eco Postal BoxesT-Shirts / Magazines / CardsLarge Letter (up to 750g)
430 x 340mm x 73mmPostal Boxes Size 9MaxiEco Postal BoxesClothing / Books / Photo Frames / GamesSmall Parcel (up to 2kg)

Padded Envelopes Sizing Comparision Chart

Product CodeAroFOLFeatherpostJiffyBubble Lined BagsMail Lite
(100 x 165mm)
A (C6)
110 x 165mm
(90 x 145mm)
BLB 000
(100 x 165mm)
(110 x 160mm)
120 x 215mm
(150 x 215mm)
C (C5)
150 x 215mm
(140 x 195mm)
BLB 00
(150 x 215mm)
(150 x 210mm)
180 x 265mm
220 x 265mm
(220 x 340mm)
F (C4)
230 x 335mm
(220 x 320mm)
(220 x 340mm)
(220 x 330mm)
240 x 335mm
270 x 360mm
300 x 445mm
350 x 470mm

10 Facts You May Not Know About the Humble Cardboard Box

Cat in a Cardboard Box

How has your recycling pile been this past 12 months? Yes, the wine bottle collection might be larger than usual, but we’d also predict you’ve been drowning in cardboard packaging!

Online shopping and home deliveries have led to unprecedented demand for cardboard boxes.  As reported by the BBC, e-commerce companies, including Forms Plus, have worked hard to source sufficient quality packaging to meet this demand.  Whilst we have always managed to supply what our customers need, it led us to pay closer attention to the humble cardboard box. Here are a few facts you may not know…

10 Facts you may not have known about cardboard boxes:

  1. Whilst paper has been around since around 2AD, cardboard as a packaging material was not really used industrially until 1817 when Sir Malcolm Thornhill made the first single skin cardboard boxes. 
  2. Corrugated cardboard was first developed as a way to make tall hats stand up straight, with a British Patent issued in 1856. About 15 years later, we start to see corrugated cardboard being used to make boxes stronger. It is made up of paper, fluting (the wavy bit!) and lining layers.  Different fluting levels are available, which determine how thick the box walls will be. 
  3. One reason for the current shortage of cardboard boxes, is that during lockdowns, people are tending to store packaging in their homes or garages, rather than take it to the recycling centre. As many of the packaging items we sell are made from recycled cardboard, this has led to shortages as the raw materials have been less available.
Postal Boxes 3
We stock a wide range of postal boxes and cardboard packaging
  1. Most cardboard boxes are made from softwood trees that have long fibres, such as pine, spruce and fir trees.  The type of tree used can impact the eventual colour of the box with trees from Scandinavia often producing darker brown cardboard than those from Brazil, which are light brown, or China, which are more yellow.  The Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) helps take care of these forests and their stamp of approval indicates that the cardboard is from a well-managed forest.  Many of our products are FSC-certified. 
  2. “If it fits, I sits” – we all know cats love cardboard boxes, but why? Ethologist Claudia Vinke of Utrecht University has actually run some research with cats in an animal shelter. The findings suggested that cats stress levels were considerably reduced by providing them with a box to hide in, whatever size it was.     
If it fits, I sits
  1. Unlikely to go as viral as a cat meme, but a question we get asked all the time, Royal Mail PIP (Pricing in Proportion) box sizes may well be important to you when deciding on postal boxes, so here they are:

Royal Mail Box Sizes

Box SizeWeightLengthWidthDepth
Large Letter750g35.3cm25cm2.5cm
Small Parcel2kg45cm35cm16cm
Medium Parcel20kg61cm46cm
Large Parcel30kg1.5m
Royal Mail PiP Box Sizes – for more info visit the Royal Mail Website
For large parcels, length and depth combined must not exceed 3m

We stock a full range of PiP Royal Mail postal boxes.

  1. Cardboard packaging is currently the most environmentally friendly protective packaging solution on the market. It is biodegradable, non-toxic, recycled, recyclable and can be cut to the correct shape and size for your parcels to take up less space during shipping, saving on carbon emissions. 
  2. The UK has amongst the world’s highest recycling rates for packaging.  The latest figures available from DEFRA indicate that in 2017, 70% of UK packaging waste was either recycled or recovered, including 4.7 million tonnes of paper and cardboard.
  1. There are a few things to consider when choosing the right cardboard carton.  Apart from choosing the best size for your packages, you will also need to think about thickness.  Boxes are available in single or double wall. Double wall boxes add an extra layer of protection around your products, are more likely to stack without crushing and are better suited to fragile, heavy or valuable shipments.  They don’t weigh much more than single wall boxes, so are unlikely to add to postage costs. 
  2. The Kellogg brothers invented the first cardboard cereal box in the early 1900s, but originally the cereal was loose in the box and a heat-sealed wax bag was wrapped around the outside. These boxes are now collectors’ items and can sell for thousands of pounds

If you’d like to find out even more about cardboard boxes, visit our Cardboard Packaging pages or get in touch – or once we can travel again, you might want to visit the Cardboard and Printing Museum in Valreas in France (yes it exists!).

Featured Product – Grip Seal Bags

Narrow Grip Seal Bag for Packaging Small Items

This year, we will be using our blog to feature products from our ranges and highlight information that might help you make the best selection to meet your packaging and label needs. This month we are starting out with the humble grip seal bags.

Grip seal bags, also known as zip lock bags, are clear polythene bags with a simple grip lock closure at one end.  Simply pull open and push the two sides together to close the bag, making a robust seal.  As no adhesive is involved, the bags are resealable and reusable time and time again.  Therefore great for the environment. 

Available in 19 sizes from 37mm x 62mm up to 375mm x 500mm, grip seal bags are ideal for packaging all types of products. We have seen them used for everything from tiny earrings, craft items, electronics, vitamins, food products, fashion accessories, books and brochures and even clothing.

With an almost airtight seal, grip seal bags protect your products from moisture, odours or other contamination. If you are sending out something perfumed, they will also keep that smell contained, protecting the rest of the package.   

Ideal for sending out different quantities of smaller products, these small, clear pouches are also helpful for keeping your stock organised and speeding up your picking and packing process. 

At Forms Plus, we have focussed on quality when selecting our grip seal bags.  This means that the closure is sturdy and a good fit, opening and closing easily. They are fully reusable should your customers choose to keep their bags as storage, once the parcel is received. 

Our bags are made from 160 gauge/40-micron LDPE (low density polyethylene) which means they are strong, fairly heavy duty and less likely to be punctured.  They can also be recycled or reused. 

Do have a look at our range of grip seal bags and get in touch if you have any questions.  We think you’ll find them a versatile and cost-effective solution to sorting and protecting many of the items you send out.  We also had some fun choosing products to fill them with for our photoshoot!