August 2017 | Commentary | Green Landscape: Supply Chain Sustainability

How Reduced Packaging Waste is Key to Sustainability

Tags: Retail, Packaging, E-commerce, Supply Chain, Sustainability

Tim Casey is President, ProShip Inc., 414-302-2929

Aiming for a green supply chain not only reduces costs but also is socially responsible. Shippers are turning to innovative solutions to reduce packaging waste and emissions as key components of their sustainability efforts.

More customers than ever choose to purchase from sustainable companies. In fact, 91 percent of global consumers expect companies to do more than make a profit; they are also expected to operate responsibly, addressing social and environmental issues, according to a Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR study.

Pack Like a Pro

Online retailers are sending deliveries in boxes that are too big—creating an extra 2 billion pounds of waste every year—and customers are noticing.

A Sealed Air study shows 77 percent of customers note the packaging a retailer uses for e-commerce reflects its environmental values. This means that everything matters, down to the packing of the order. To meet customer expectations for more sustainable packaging, many shippers are turning to automated packing solutions.

Automated packing solutions optimize all steps of order fulfillment. These systems scan, build, fill, fold, and label each order in a fit-to-size parcel in as few as seven seconds.

They even can build a parcel around single or multi-item orders with variable dimensions. By creating a fit-to-size parcel, automated packing solutions eliminate void fill and reduce the amount of corrugated material used by up to 20 percent.

These innovative systems can also place return labels and seal the parcel with reusable tape, which allows customers to reuse the box and the printed label for an easy and environmentally friendly returns process.

Customers are not the only ones happy with this green initiative. Shippers like it too, because it can save money.

As shippers install automated packing solutions to get orders out the door fast, delivery is also top of mind. Shippers know customers want their orders on time and hassle-free. That's why many offer parcel lockers as a final-mile delivery option.

Only 1.5 percent of all parcels delivered to a parcel locker require a second delivery attempt, and only 0.8 percent require a third attempt, according to a ShipMatrix study.

Shippers commonly place parcel lockers at apartment and condominium complexes, in brick-and-mortar stores, and even at convenience stores. This gives customers 24/7 access to their orders, resulting in fewer delivery attempts from carriers, which means shippers can reduce their carbon footprint while lowering freight costs.

Customers Want it All

Customers believe it is important for a brand to be environmentally friendly, don't want bulky orders when receiving a small item, and want to reuse packaging for any returns. They also want to receive their order on time and hassle-free.

To achieve these goals, enhance the customer experience, and maintain a green supply chain, a growing number of shippers are turning to automated packing systems and parcel lockers.






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