How Holiday Shipping Affects the Environment

The 2017 holiday saw more people shopping online than in any previous year. While the final numbers aren’t yet in, USPS expected to ship 850 million packages, while UPS forecasted 750 million packages. This massive number of boxes means that a lot of cardboard and empty space is being shipped as well.

On average, packages contain about 40% wasted space. This empty space often causes products to arrive damaged. To avoid this, companies fill their boxes with unnecessary void filler (e.g., packing peanuts, bubble wrap, paper). Oversized packaging has a negative impact on the environment and the retailer’s bottomline due to DIM weight charges. For example, in the 2017 holiday season, Amazon reported that they used 6,000 trucks and 32 planes to ship and deliver packages in the United States alone. If they could reduce the size of their packages by 40 percent, it would have meant the reduction of roughly 2,400 trucks and 12 planes. And that’s just one company!

A second environmental impact results when corrugated cardboard ends up at the dump. It is estimated that close to half of the garbage generated in the United States comes from paper and paperboard (i.e., cardboard). Which is a shame because nearly 93% of all corrugated cardboard can be recycled. Recycling one ton of corrugated cardboard saves 390 kWh of energy, 1.1 barrels (46 gallons) of oil, and 17 trees.

Packsize machines can help online retailers decrease their carbon footprint. One is the X4®, which cuts, folds, labels, and glues a flat corrugated box. For high-volume distribution centers, it can assess and create the most efficient, right-sized box for each individual order. If you are a smaller distribution center, the iQ3™ may be a better fit. This machine is smaller than the X4, but can produce most FEFCO 100, 200, and 300 box designs. Packsize can also help integrate these machines into your packaging line to ensure the best possible throughput.

If you want to help protect the environment, cut down on costs, and improve your customers’ experience, learn more about custom box-making machines from Packsize.