Environmental issues have recently dominated media coverage after the government’s announcement earlier this year to ban any avoidable plastic waste in the UK by 2042.*

Soon after, many retailers began to publish their plans to reduce plastic waste and increase recycling in their activities.

Below we have identified six areas to help you limit the impact of your packaging on the environment.

1. Storage
Reducing the amount of packaging stock held at your site helps ensure you only store as much packaging as you need at any time, minimising packaging waste. Packaging suppliers can help you by storing your packaging for you.

Switching to Just in Time (JIT) production (where products and packaging are produced to order) or drip-feed supply (where products and packaging are supplied as and when you need them) will help you avoid build-up of unsold finished product and minimise the likelihood of stock perishing.

Review items that are big and bulky to store – this typically indicates packaging that uses a lot of material. Can an alternative product be used that uses less material and is smaller to store? In the long term this will reduce your waste packaging tonnage.

For example, if you use a protective polystyrene insert/corner protection then a switch to an air filled pack – like Airsac – can reduce the volume of waste packaging. These consist of 2% material and 98% air – and as they are inflated on demand they take up a fraction of storage space.

2. Transport
Packs that are optimised for the products that they protect will use less material and need less infill, ultimately taking less space on your delivery vehicles. This means you can transport more in a single journey – increasing your pay load. Fewer vehicle movements contribute to limiting CO2 emissions and lowering your transport costs.

Reviewing your box range will help you better cater for the needs of individual products, ensuring your staff spend less time filling voids, use less material and guarantee adequate product protection in transit. You will save on material costs while being considerate to the environment.

3. Damages and returns
Well designed, fit-for-purpose packaging will offer optimum protection for your products in transit and ensures that the correct amount of packaging material is used to secure your products. If packaging is not “fit for purpose”, damages can occur, leading to additional transportation and packaging of returns and replacements. Not to mention the write-off implications for your products.

Sending your products in returnable packaging ensures the same box / bag can be reused for returns, encouraging “recycling” and minimising packaging waste.

4. Administration costs
Purchase orders from multiple suppliers can result in goods arriving to your warehouse on different vehicles, increasing CO2 emissions. You can increase your green credentials by consolidating your supplier base and taking in deliveries on a single vehicle.

Online management systems, including Macfarlane’s Customer Connect, help run reports and reorder packaging at the click of a button – fast, simple and paperless!

5. Productivity
Automated packaging solutions such as auto bagging and auto boxing machines measure how much packaging material is needed to pack each item, reducing the amount of material used per pack and keeping waste to a minimum. It also allows you to pack more in less time.

For sealing, automatic gummed paper tape machines cut the exact length required for the box to minimise waste which increases your material yield, positively impacting your packaging costs.

6. Customer Experience
Sustainability and environmental issues are close to customers’ hearts, therefore, it is important to consider the environmental impact of your business.

Use eco-friendly packaging and if possible include clear recycling information on the package to assist your customers.

Packaging solutions made from a single material are simpler for customers as they don’t need to worry about splitting the package before recycling.

No one likes receiving parcels that have too much packaging and create unnecessary waste.

Contact Macfarlane Packaging today to find out more about the Significant Six and how they can help you make your packaging operation greener: https://www.macfarlanepackaging.com/contact/

References

*Government sets its sights on plastic as part of 25 year plan: https://www.packagingnews.co.uk/top-story/government-targets-plastic-part-25-year-plan-11-01-2018

Asda promises customers it will ‘use less and recycle more’ in fight on plastics: https://corporate.asda.com/newsroom/2018/02/05/asda-promises-customers-it-will-use-less-and-recycle-more-in-fight-on-plastics

McDonald’s sets goal of recycling, 100% sustainable packaging by 2025: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2018/01/16/mcdonalds-environmental-goals-sustainable-packaging-recycling/1037214001/

What are supermarkets doing to fight plastic? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-42652937

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