Here we will look at the packing materials included with a RaidMax Vortex Series RX-635AP-V Power Supply and comment on recycle-ability of the materials. We use these power supplies in some builds for local clients.
The power supply came in a cardboard box with plastic shrink wrap around the exterior and two paper stickers applied to the exterior of the shrink wrap – one sticker was blank and was covering up the manufacturer’s barcode and the other had a different barcode.
So, we carefully peeled off the paper sticker and removed the plastic wrap – according to the internets, the plastic wrap can be recycled with grocery store drop off of plastic bags as long as it is clean, dry and free of stickers. The stickers may be put in with mixed paper recycling.
The plastic wrap weighed in at 4.5 grams:
The stickers topped the scales at 0.4 grams.
Applying stickers to the exterior of a box with the purpose to change the barcode seems like it could be a bit more efficient – if you need to change the barcode sticker, then put your new sticker right on top of the old one – that would eliminate one of the two extra stickers. But, best of all would be to use the barcode put onto the box by the manufacturer.
Raidmax could also eliminate the plastic wrap – a lot of other products don’t come wrapped in shrink-wrap, so Raidmax could save some cost and extra plastic in the world by not putting a plastic shrink wrap on power supply boxes.
After the shrink-wrap layer, we come to the box. Unlike the EVGA 500BQ box we looked at last month, this box did not have any plastic film seal on the opening of the box and had paper stickers for the model number / serial number sticker and model number / barcode. Paper stickers are more recyclable than the plastic film stickers that EVGA used in their power supply and the absence of a plastic film sticker seal is another positive.
A note on adhesives: The other part of these stickers is the glue which holds them to the box. When the stickers are peeled off, some glue remains on the plastic and some remains on the cardboard. It is another thing for the recycling facilities of these products to deal with.
Opening the box:
Also like the EVGA power supply, this unit was rattling around inside of the box because the box was too large for the contents. The box was not only too large in width and depth, but also in height. A properly sized box in which the contents do not move around not only saves material from the box, but can also save on packing material. Another difference on this power supply from the EVGA 500BQ is that this one did not come with a manual – and if you’re familiar with building computers, the manual is not really needed. Some of the content of a manual for this power supply is printed on the exterior of the box – like the recommendations for connecting a video card and the recommended power draw of the video card.
Again, like the EVGA box, this one is cardboard brown on the interior and coated on the exterior. It would seem like this is not only more expensive to manufacture, but also more costly to recycle. In our case, the box will likely be saved to be used to ship something else sold here on and on Ebay. If we accumulate too many, then the excess boxes go into the cardboard dumpster for recycling.
Included in the box is:
- The power supply – wrapped in plastic bubble wrap – most of the bubbles are popped because it is made of very thin plastic and has been rattling around inside of the box. The power supply is not physically damaged. The motherboard power cable and CPU power cable are hard wired into the power supply and have a black plastic coated twist tie around them.
- Four modular cables – all with plastic coated steel twist ties – this time in white:
- 1 x VGA / PCIe Cable for supplying power to a video card
- 2 x Cable w/ 1 x Molex & 2 x SATA connectors for powering hard drives / optical drives / SSDs / other peripherals
- 1 x Cable w/ 2 x Molex & 1x SATA connectors for powering hard drives / optical drives / SSDs / other peripherals
- Small re-sealable plastic bag w/ 4 screws to fasten the power supply to the computer case
- One standard power cable – with plastic coated steel twist tie.
Screws w/ Plastic Bag
Included are four screws for screwing the power supply into the computer’s case. They come in a small, resealable plastic bag. The waste from this would be the small plastic bag which can be recycled with plastic bags at the grocery store. If they are in good condition, we try to reuse the bags for other small parts, screws, et cetera. This one is quite beat up due to the contents of the box rattling around during shipment.
The plastic bag with the screws weighed in at 0.2 grams.
Standard Power Cable & Modular Cables
This comes with a standard power cable and modular power cables which have plastic coated steel cable twist ties holding them together. The twist tie is generally the waste part here and would be better to use a bare steel wire instead of coating one with plastic. The wire is already insulated with plastic and a small bare steel wire is unlikely to damage it and it would be less energy intensive to manufacture and easier to recycle. This could also be made from cotton fiber string or hemp twine – both compostable. The modular cables came with white twist ties and the AC power cable and hard wired cables came with black ties.
The twist ties tipped the scale at 3.1 grams.
The Power Supply
The power supply itself comes wrapped in a plastic bubble wrap bag sealed with a piece of plastic tape. The bubble wrap and tape can be included in the plastic bag recycling at the grocery store if clean and dry. However, since we pack and ship frequently, we try to reuse the bubble wrap bags. This one, however is in poor shape: a lot of the bubbles have popped (due to the power supply rattling around in the box during shipment) and it is made from very thin plastic to begin with. So, this one will head to the grocery store collection.
Unlike the EVGA power supply, the Raidmax logo on the power supply did not have an additional piece of plastic film on it.
6.3 grams was the weight of the plastic bubble wrap bag.
The Raidmax power supply feels a bit cheaper than the EVGA and it is cheaper and less expensive. Raidmax only backs it with a 2 year warranty whereas the EVGA 500 BQ has a 3 year warranty. The packaging is fairly attractive, the power supply arrived without physical damage despite rattling around in the box. The semi-modular feature is nice. It has a little bit less packaging waste than the EVGA, but there is still room for improvement in minimizing plastic waste and making the packaging more recyclable. There are a total of 11 grams of plastic film waste (6.3 grams of bubble wrap bag + 0.2 grams of resealable plastic bag + 4.5 grams of shrink wrap). There are 3.1 grams of twist tie waste (steel + plastic coating). These improvements should not only be better for the environment, but should also reduce the cost of the product – which Raidmax can then either put into their pockets or pass the savings along to the consumers:
- Make the box smaller to fit the power supply and accessories correctly.
- With this sized correctly, the power supply will not rattle around and the plastic bubble wrap bag could probably be eliminated or at least reused instead of immediately discarded.
- Use bare steel twist ties to hold the cables together for shipment – or perhaps compostable cotton or hemp string.
- Eliminate the plastic shrink-wrap on the exterior of the box.
- Don’t use extra stickers when a barcode for the product is already on the box.