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7.1 Introduction

Following fibre harvesting and preparation the packaging of the textile fibre into bales for transport to the processors is the next important task and one that must be done properly.

Packaging standards are a fundamental part of marketing and high standards must always be maintained when baling animal fibres for presentation to world markets. The packaging material (pack) used to form bales of animal fibre is unfortunately prone to damage because of the bales size, weight, coupled with the handling systems and transportation methods used. The pack material used must therefore be strong enough to withstand the handling methods used through the transport route.

7.2 Essential Requirements

The packaging of animal fibres has three essential requirements.

To achieve the first of these requires

- the use of packs that completely contain the fibre, ie. no exposed fibre.

- the use of a pack material that is strong enough and is constructed in a manner that will withstand damage from the bale handling, transport and storage systems. This requires the setting of a detailed pack specification which specify minimum requirements of the fabric tensile strength, resistant fibrillation, selvage strength, construction, composition etc. The specifications must be set at levels of proven acceptable pack performance and only such packs should thereafter be used. Such specifications have been set in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa for use in the wool industry.

To achieve the second packaging objective, each bale should have the following clearly and easily readable marks applied, preferably using a stencil with a minimum letter, size of 50mm.

- Owner/seller identification mark(s)
- Lot number
- Individual bale number
- Description of the bale content
- Bale weight

The bale branding substance used should be scourable, as this will not contaminate the contents should some of the branding substance soak through the pack material onto the valuable fibre contained inside the bale.

7.3 Packaging Materials

Historically, jute sacks were the most widely used packaging material. Over more recent years, High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) has taken over as the packaging material in many fibre producing countries.

However, the world textile industry has repeatedly expressed serious concern at the levels of contamination from both jute and HDPE packs. They feel that this contamination issue is one of the biggest threats facing the animal fibre industry. This situation has focused attention on alternative packaging materials in recent years, and as a result, other materials have been identified. However, for a different pack material to gain widespread use requires the material to have equal or better performance properties, be non-contaminating and be comparatively priced. Multifilament nylon packs have been used to pack the very fine Merino wools with some success. These nylon packs meet the performance and non-contamination requirements, but they are considerably more expensive than HDPE. It is for this reason the use of nylon packs is limited to the finest and most expensive Merino wools.

Some use is now made of polyethylene film for use as an alternative to woven HDPE for the wrapping material which is placed around the bale and under the bands which hold the bale together. This type of package requires a high dense press with a minimum 200 tonne pressure. Polyethylene film used as a pack material has not proved successful to date in farm type wool presses as used in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Because of the pack contamination concerns expressed by the textile industry, it is difficult to make clear recommendations as to what pack material animal fibre producers should use. Two things are clear however - previously used packs should not be used because of the increase in pack contamination that may occur and customer preference in packaging materials should be obtained. If possible, the fibre they purchase should be packed in their preferred material. It is also preferable that twine should not be used to sew up the top of the bale because the twine is a source of contamination. Processors have a clear preference for clips to be used instead of twines.

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