Reduce Packaging While Increasing Protection

packaged boxes

How important is it to your organization to be able to reduce the amount of packaging for your products without having to give up any protection? The correct answer is “very important”. The obvious reason your organization needs to reduce packaging is cost savings but it is by far possibly not even the best reason to get serious about reducing the amount of packaging materials that your organization is using.

The time has come where either global organizations are going to start taking reducing waste seriously or the pinch is going to start really being felt in their pockets. As more and more consumers become aware of the global climate changes and how waste plays such a big role in the effects more and more consumers are making choices based on a company’s “ethical practices” when it comes to the environment.

Consumers are demanding changes that are slowly turning into global policies. In the near future, likely the very near future accountability is going to change when it comes to how much packaging is being used across a full range of industries.

The question is “will your organization be ready?” will your organization get ahead of the new policy changes that are being called for by thoroughly reviewing your options for changes?

Simple Steps

There are a few “traditions” that are used in logistics and packaging that are in place NOT because they are the most effective practices but because they are just the way business has always been done. Some simple steps in the right direction can easily work to your organizations benefit.

You start with a review. How much are you spending on things like “void fill” or “cushioning”? How much are you spending on tools for the warehouse? To really understand how you can reduce packaging while increasing protection you have to take a look at your entire supply chain system.

Recently a representative for a large Fortune 500 company said:

“I knew that packaging changes needed to be implemented but frankly did not know where to start. The packaging system that we were using in our warehouses was the same system we were using for 40 years, it seemed to be working okay. When it came time to do a full audit of costs I could not believe what the consultant was reporting. Our outdated packaging system was costing us an arm in a leg in just “void fill” materials. We searched for a better solution and were shocked to find that one of the oldest solutions had a newer twist that made it a perfect way for us to reduce the amount of packaging we were using.”

In other words just because you have a system in place that is working it does not mean that a review can reveal how it can work better. Sure a lot of people feel if it isn’t broken than you should not try to fix it but it why not improve when you can?

Take a close look at what you are paying for packaging. How much packaging are you using? Does it seem like overkill? Are you misusing your packaging by using larger packaging then necessary because the size down is just not large enough while the larger size is just to big?

These are all worthwhile questions that your review should address. One of the biggest sources of waste in logistics is using inappropriate packaging. It can be quite the quandary when the smaller size is too small while the step up size is too big.

When you are faced with these sizing issues you wind up having to use more void filler, which costs money and ultimately winds up being a wasted item by the end user.

Other Options

Clearly reducing packaging while increasing protection can seem like a lofty goal but it actually quite an achievable goal if you are using the right materials. Some organizations in a bid to save and reduce wind up going from the fire into the frying pan.

There are a few things you should NOT use in your bid to reduce packaging. Shrink wrap, cardboard boxes and crates. Shrink wrap is used A LOT but it offers zero security. It takes just a sharp enough knife to get into your products.

Shrink wrap also is bad for the environment. It is plastic which requires petroleum products to create, it is not reusable so it winds up in the landfill where it takes maybe one thousand years or more to decompose. You cannot depend on shrink wrapping for stability. It is a common some would even say familiar method of wrapping that has really outlived its usefulness. If your goal is to reduce (and it should be) the first thing you should do is get rid of the shrink wrap.

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Crates are seemingly a good option unless you consider that they are not adjustable at all and you are faced with choosing a size that comes closest to your needs. Of course you will be stuck in the void fill cycle with crates.

Corrugated cardboard boxes are also seemingly a decent choice, they are a familiar choice but they are not the best choice. They offer some protection but they also lack the adjustability features that prevent having to use void fill. They can be strong but the question is are they really strong enough? Even wax coated corrugated cardboard boxes are ultimately just cardboard that can be damaged from moisture and wear and tear.

There is one option that can easily help you to reduce the amount of packaging you need AND increase the protection of your products.

The Lowly Pallet

Pallets are taken for granted. We see them everywhere, used for everything from transporting goods to more recently even furniture. Pallets are a tried and true method of packaging a complete range of goods.

Pallets began their journey to becoming one of the most popular shipping/storing packaging materials in the 1940’s. They have not changed too much along the way since but they are still the single most useful packaging tool in logistics.

Today most organizations are finding a revitalization of palletizing goods because they offer so many benefits especially when you are trying to reduce the packaging and provide greater protection. One of the key changes with pallet use has been the introduction of easy to use pallet collars.

Pallet collars offer easy adjustable walls to help protect goods. These adjustable walls do not require any tools to be stacked together or pulled apart. They can easily be stacked as high as you need them to be to protect your goods.

Of course they also work in the opposite direction as well. If you have a smaller load you just use less pallet collars so that the walls are shorter. The ability to change the size of the walls on a secure vessel means that right out of the gate you will be using a lot less fill materials to take up the void that is left by a too big box.

Just by switching to a pallet, pallet collar system that Fortune 500 representative was able to “reduce, reuse and control the amount of money that was being spent on unnecessary fill. As a side note we were also able to reduce our shipping costs by about 5% because we were no longer shipping half full boxes that were filled with void filler instead of products.”

Saving even 1% on shipping costs in logistics is considered enough savings to adopt the change, this company had saved 5% by making some very simple changes. An added bonus of switching packaging from other packaging to pallets and pallet collars is that they are an economical option. They are cost effective, readily available and offer superior protection for your goods.

Pallets and pallet collars also have the added benefit of being easy to store, easy to reuse and are easy to recycle once they have come to the end of their life cycle.

They are manufactured in a kinder way than petroleum based plastic containers are so they also help to keep your environmental friendliness level up as well.

Try it Out

To get a feel for the value of pallets and pallet collars you can easily switch part of your operation to using these packaging materials and analyze the results after a 6 month test period. See whether your current operation can stand up to pallets and pallet collars in providing protection and using less packaging materials.

You will likely see a reduction in costs for both packaging materials and shipping. You will see an increase in space because pallets when combined with pallet collars can easily be stacked to take full advantage of vertical warehouse space.

You will be able to get ahead of the requirements for packaging that are going to become global standards over the next decade so that while other organizations are scrambling to be compliant your organization can focus on core business matters.