Nathan Dube

By: Nathan Dube on March 3rd, 2020

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Is There An Expiration Date On Shrink And Stretch Films?

Packaging Materials | Environment | Plant Performance

The short answer to this question is "yes there is". Here at Industrial Packaging, we have been selling shrink and stretch films for decades. While there are a ton of benefits to packaging your products in shrink and stretch film, this packaging doesn’t have an unlimited shelf life.


Unfortunately, we have had customers experience premature expiration and expired shrink and stretch film. Our goal in this article is to inform companies that purchase these products on the expiration date of shrink and stretch films as well as other issues that can cause your film to expire sooner. You’ll also find advice on how to prevent said premature expiration.


Yes, There Is An Expiration Date On Shrink And Stretch Films


As a general rule, the expiration date of your film is one year from the time that you receive it. Typically, it is usable after that but if too much time passes, your seal range narrows and/or the film could become blocked. Some films may change color from white/clear to yellow. If you see this color change, it’s a result of air trapped during the winding process that escapes over time.


Climate And Storage Dynamics That Can Expire Your Film Sooner


Extreme heat and cold will cause issues with the shrink and stretch films if stored in these conditions over extended periods of time. High heat levels will lead to your films shrinking, which can cause problems on your machinery as they will become more prone to jamming.


Packaging your products with films that have been exposed to extreme heat for extended periods of time will make for complications when packaging your products (melting, sticking, and so on).


On the other hand, intense cold will cause films to crack if left in said conditions for long periods of time. If you are lucky, under these conditions, the films MIGHT still run OK on your packaging line, however, the films may fail due to the symptoms mentioned above.


Films that are exposed to dust can also produce issues. Excessive dust build up on stretch film reduces its ability to stretch properly. If stretch film does not stretch correctly from dust build up, this can lead to moderate to severe problems for your machinery and products.


Another important consideration would be the amount of time your films remain in storage. Unused shrink and stretch wrap sitting for a long period of time may result in varied issues as mentioned above. When films sit for extended amounts of time with extreme temperature fluctuations, it is more likely your films are to be compromised.


Often times this results in slack edges and unwanted bagging. If using films that have sustained a shelf life in these conditions, it is likely that the wrapping process will take notably longer and could potentially produce excessive waste.


Need Help Choosing The Right Shrink Film?

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How To Properly Store Shrink And Stretch Films


Prior to buying any type of stretch or shrink film, educate yourself on the storage requirements of each type of film. Working with films that have been improperly stored will result in various problems and headaches. If you are having trouble sourcing this information yourself, reach out to your vendor and ask them for said information.


Shrink and stretch films should be stored around 30 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit. During the summer and winter seasons, storing film properly will likely need some type of climate control such as heating or air conditioning to maintain integrity and quality.



Summer Shrink And Stretch Film Storage


If your warehouse and storage area for your films is exposed to heat in the summer, you will need to implement some form of cooling. If your films are exposed to temperatures exceeding 100 degrees for extended periods of time, chances are they will be compromised and not be able to properly be utilized for their applications.


In the summer or hot seasons for your geographical area, store your films in the coolest location possible. They should be kept cool, but do not expose them to extreme cold or refrigeration. Generally speaking, the areas closest to the floor of your warehouse are the coolest. Store your films away from sunlight and keep them on the lowest levels of your pallet racks.


Keep your films away from high traffic areas and doors as these spaces may be exposed to regular fluctuations in temperature and are not appropriate for the storing of your films.


Winter Shrink And Stretch Film Storage


If your films are exposed to long periods of extreme cold this will cause them to become brittle and may result in cracking. This will result in sub-par to poor shrinking capabilities. PVC film, in particular, can crack and break in a similar fashion to glass when exposed to extreme cold for extended time frames.


Once again, store your films away from high traffic areas and floors. During winter months, you will also want to be sure that the areas where you store your films are kept dry and free of moisture.


Understanding Shrink And Stretch Film Storage And Expiration


Shrink and stretch films will generally last for one year from the time you receive them. During that time period you must use climate control to the best of your abilities to properly store them. If you are unsure about optimizing your storage processes, it's recommended to seek advice from a local packaging expert.


Proper storage of your shrink and stretch films should be a an important factor of your packaging line. Improperly stored films can result in various issues including mechanical failure, poorly packaged products, downtime, repairs and other unwanted variables.


When setting up a plan for the storage of your films it would make sense to include an analysis of your storage protocols. This is easily done when you have your vendor on-site for preventative maintenance or implementation of other machinery and materials.


Proper storage of your materials is part and parcel of running a professional packaging line. Storage protocols should be reviewed regularly to ensure proper climate control, physical storage location, and achievement of key performance indicators.


By following the guidelines above you will be able to avoid unnecessary headaches and mechanical issues in addition to ensuring the reduction of wasted time, materials, man hours and money.


If you are running a packaging operation that is physically located in a geographical area that is prone to extreme weather year round, you may have to implement more specialized climate control measures. If this is the case, it would be advised to work with your local packaging expert to assist in the implementation of any specialized or unique material storage protocols.


As Industrial Packaging is located in New England, we are used to dramatic fluctuations in weather, temperature and extreme climate changes throughout the four seasons. If you need help with optimizing the storage of your materials, we can help you.


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About Nathan Dube

As the Digital Marketing Specialist at Industrial Packaging, I am honored to create content for such a phenomenal company and work with one of the greatest teams in the Packaging Industry. Whether creating a video, writing blog posts or generating other pieces of content and multimedia, I am always excited to help educate and inspire our prospects and clients to reach their highest potential in regards to their packaging processes and needs.