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Why is packaging today so excessive and wasteful?

Two-thirds of consumers would be willing to pay more for firms that have adopted sustainable packaging ideas, according to the Nielsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report. Why then is excessive packaging a problem with delivery and e-commerce?

Slimming down their packaging is one surefire way for businesses to respond to this and show their dedication to sustainability. But is that really happening? Who is currently using excessive amounts of packing, and how may things be made better?


Who are the big offenders?

Amazon, which surpassed Wal-Mart to become the world's largest retailer last year, has a market value of more than $260 billion.

Therefore, it is not unexpected that Amazon utilises a lot of packaging. However, is this usage excessive? Given that the firm began its "Frustration-Free Packaging" campaign in 2008 in response to customer concerns regarding obtrusive and unnecessary packaging, it is clear that senior management at Amazon is aware of the problem.

However, even as of February 2016, Amazon customers continued to lament the retailer's wasteful usage of packaging on social media. For instance, a customer ordered camera lens covers in the run-up to Christmas 2015 and received them in a sizable cardboard package. More recently, a 12-pack of beer glasses for another customer arrived in an outer cardboard box that was roughly twice the required size.

Additionally, supermarkets make mistakes while sending out orders to clients. For instance, Tesco recently delivered a Greater Manchester customer a 24-piece dinner set. The use of 48 boxes was regrettable because each item of china was separately packaged twice. Even worse, some parts didn't make it through the journey whole.

These illustrations unmistakably show that superfluous packaging serves no purpose. In addition to aggravating the customer, it provides no additional security for the items within and harms the environment. Additional packaging takes additional raw materials, energy, and gasoline to convey the goods. Each additional ounce per package matters.


What about the smaller retailers?

When it comes to packaging waste, it's not just the international corporations that are at fault. Even the tiniest independent company should constantly seek for opportunities to reduce packaging.

For instance, takeaway food establishments could pack their meals in plastic containers or foil trays with cardboard closures. It might be necessary to combine several of these containers in a strong paper bag. Is it necessary to put this paper bag inside a plastic carrier bag, though?

However, in general, smaller companies must closely monitor their expenses, therefore they will be compelled to utilise as little packaging as possible. For instance, independent sellers on eBay are compelled to think about postal costs, which makes them make sure that their packages are as compact and light as possible.


How can retailers improve their sustainability?

Online retail revenues topped £100 billion in 2014. They are anticipated to reach £126 billion by the end of 2016. As a result of this trend, there will be a higher demand for packaging, so it is crucial that companies take every precaution to reduce waste. How can new firms take the aforementioned examples of unnecessary packaging to heart?

Think about the camera lens covers that were delivered in a sizable cardboard box. One method to eliminate the surplus in this situation would be to make the box smaller, but since they were already packaged in a vacuum-packed plastic container, there was no need to send them in a box of any type. It may have been contained in a bubble wrap-lined mailbag.

Additionally, there was no need for a box because one was already present for the beer glasses. A better option would have been to safeguard them during delivery by covering them in bubble wrap and adding an outer layer of plastic wrap to prevent the bubbles from popping.

All the individual parts of the Tesco dinner set, such as the plates and bowls, might have been packed together and covered with packaging foam in order to prevent breakage. The entire set might have then been packaged in a box with packing peanuts or air pillows to prevent the crockery from slamming into one another after being encased in bubble wrap.

The example of the dinner set also demonstrates how bulk purchasing reduces packaging waste since less packaging is required for each unit of merchandise. Think about the amount of plastic required to hold 500 ml of shampoo in a single huge container as opposed to ten smaller 50 ml travel-sized bottles.

The physical properties of the items, how they are being stored, and how they are being sent, must all be taken into account in order to minimise packing waste.


Source reduction

The most important message for any new company is source reduction or lessening the amount of material that will be wasted.

Consider if you absolutely need double wall cardboard boxes, for example, and utilise lighter packaging whenever possible. Do single-wall boxes work well enough? Could you also make these single wall boxes smaller in size? Less void fill will be required since the amount of vacant space inside the package will be reduced.

Reducing packaging benefits both the environment and your company; as consumers value sustainability, you should value it as well.


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