Ways to Create Sustainable Packaging and Shipping

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Americans generate about 260 million tons of trash every year. Packaging materials alone account for about 40 percent of that waste. Clearly, for businesses to become more sustainable and reduce their environmental footprint, it is important to focus on packaging, shipping and logistics. Here are some solutions that address the issue.

Optimize the Size of Packages

The average package contains about 40 percent wasted space, which increases the ecological impact. Larger-than-required packages result in the manufacturing of needless packaging materials, including filler materials. Many of these fillers cannot be recycled or reused. Furthermore, larger boxes occupy more space in the carrier, increasing carbon emissions and fuel usage.

Automated box making machines can be used to create boxes of the exact size for the product to be shipped. This can be done easily in real-time, and will reduce the company’s costs of packaging, warehousing, shipping, and product damage in the long run.

Choose Greener Packaging Materials

Polystyrene foam, which is commonly used as a packaging material, contains toxic chemicals which will take hundreds of years to decompose. Greener alternatives such as corrugated cardboard can be used, which are more cost-effective and bio-degradable. Corrugated cardboard, for instance, is the most recycled material in the world.

In recent years, some companies have been experimenting with the use of natural materials in their packaging. Dell has started using bamboo and mushroom packaging, while Tom’s of Maine pioneered using potato starch. Puma developed the “Clever Little Bag” packaging that works as a shoe bag to encourage re-use by consumers.

Ship Packages in Bulk

Wherever possible, the shipping department should prefer to ship items in bulk. Shipping in bulk reduces the amount of wasted freight space, and effectively cuts down carbon emissions and fuel costs. Shipping in bulk will also save on packaging material and reduce handling costs.

Improve Supply Chain Sustainability

Efficiently designed freight strategies can optimize supply chain movement and enhance fuel mileage. Small businesses can consider co-shipping, which involves sharing the freight space with another company. This can lead to reduced costs and less fuel consumption for both. Setting benchmarks and monitoring results can improve the overall supply chain sustainability performance.

Source: Earth911

Image Credit: Flickr via gutoaraki