You may not give much second thought when shipping items to customers or packaging gifts to send to loved ones during the holidays. As long as the item fits in the box then everything is fine, right? Wrong. The traditional modes of packaging and shipping items have a profound impact on the environment that you may not know. When product manufacturers reduce the initial size of packaging for a product they can set into motion a chain of reactions that lessen the impact on the environment.
There are three main ways that packaging and shipping items creates a negative impact on our environment: material usage, space restrictions and damaged products.
- Wasteful packaging consumes more materials. Even by using a fraction of an inch more in plastic or cardboard for packing and shipping, you are required to use more materials. This increases the amount of resources expended when making boxes and packaging products individually. In addition, even slightly larger boxes will require more fillers like packing peanuts and air pillows in order to cushion items.
- Bigger boxes take up more space. On shelves in the store and on delivery trucks, using more packaging and bigger boxes has a negative effect on your business. With less space to hold packages, more delivery trucks will be needed. This contributes to greater fuel emissions and pollution.
- Your items are likely to get damaged. With larger boxes there is more room for items to slide around in transit. This can result in damages to the item during shipping. The result is more returns and chargebacks for your company. When this happens, you have to start the shipping process all over again and effectively double your waste and environmental impact for one job.
Solutions for Packaging and Shipping to Lessen Impact
According to Dogwood Alliance and as reported by the Calgary Herald, 25 percent of the 2.4 million hectares of trees cut down annually in the southeaster United States ends up as packaging. In addition to creating more litter and trash in landfills, wasteful packaging also contributes to deforestation, poor air quality and global warming.
A great way for businesses to reduce their carbon footprint when it comes to packaging and shipping is to turn to molded fiber. Molded fiber in product packaging can be used instead of corrugated boxes to help protect the valuable items within and reduce waste. In addition, this can help decrease the overall size of the packaging so that it takes up less space on the shelf. Smaller product boxes also translate to smaller boxes being required when you are shipping items to customers or sending gifts.
Next Steps for Consumers and Businesses
It is up to both the manufacturer and the consumer to work together to reduce the waste we see from packaging and shipping. Researching the issue and making the conscious effort to increase efficiency can collectively reduce waste and pollution. As a business owner, look into ways that you can reduce the size of your packaging so that you can conserve resources, time and money. Those shipping holiday gifts this year should also consider using the smallest boxes possible or condense shipments into the fewest packages as possible.
Mark White is a writer who is passionate about creating business practices that are both streamlined and green.