The other day one of our team members ordered a short cable from Amazon for his new (energy efficient) TV. Wrapped tightly and packaged in plastic wrap, the neatly wound cable was around 4 inches across, and, lay flat, less than an inch high. It came packaged in a big old encyclopedia-sized box! Amazon, to its credit, prominently featured ways to provide feedback on the packaging on the box. You can believe that they heard from us, loud and clear (and politely, of course).
The use of effective, efficient, and sustainable packaging is an important area in which we advise our clients. Amazon is responsible for an incredible amount of packaging waste (boxes, inflated air packing cushions, polystyrene foam, etc.), and, to its credit, the company is trying to lead by example. It launched the aforementioned packaging feedback program in 2009, and has developed software that automatically determines the correctly sized packaging for any given order. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but Amazon is on the right track.
To help get you on the right track, here are a couple innovative packaging ideas that some companies are using to limit their eco footprints. We think that you can accomplish change through small steps as well as major operational overhauls, so hopefully these examples will get you thinking about what you can do to improve your company’s packaging.
- If you’re like us, you like shoes. The problem is they come in those bulky boxes that clutter up our closets and, all to often, our landfills. Athletic apparel and sneaker company Puma is working to solve that problem. In 2011 the company introduced its “Clever Little Bag” solution, which uses 65% less paper, and delivers your shoes in a nifty little reusable bag. Using flexible, multi-use materials in your packaging can drastically reduce your packaging waste, and give you a stylish competitive advantage.
- Speaking of bags, another one of our team members loves Three Sisters cereals. These lovely ladies make “natural, sensible, and sustainable” cereals. The company’s motto, “Ditch the box and save a tree” is manifest in its packaging which, as you probably guessed, eschews the cardboard box. While this does create a little more of the dreaded crushed cereal dust at the bottom of the bag, it certainly makes us feel better about buying the product! Again, bags are your friend.
You can also help by supporting companies that use sustainable packaging. In addition to the well-known recycling insignia, you might want to think about steering clear of products that come in PVC packaging, and avoid purchasing groceries that are individually wrapped, such as American cheese (or move to Seattle – the city has recently outlawed individually packaged food!).
By the way…you can read more about Amazon.com’s packaging initiatives here,