Thursday 6 November 2014

Excessive packaging woes

Packaging is a must for products. If your items are to hit the shelves in one piece and appeal to your target consumer base, they must be neatly contained in appropriate materials. However, packaging can be - and very often has been - taken too far. Partly, this has been down to the proliferation of packaging options. Firms are now spoiled for choice when they’re looking for materials to contain their products. This trend has also been fuelled by the consumer desire for increased convenience. There is high demand for pocket-sized products that are easy to open and consume or use.

If your firm has fallen into the trap of using excessive packaging, now’s the time to take action. After all, this could be hitting your finances. As well as shelling out for more materials, your transport costs could rise because of the extra bulk. Also, people are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impact of packaging and they are looking for firms to take a responsible approach. The good news is, there are ways to cut packaging without sacrificing the overall look and feel of products. All too often, companies use two layers of packaging when one would be enough. For example, for some products, rather than putting already-wrapped products in external packages, such as boxes, it can suffice to use labels on internal packaging instead. High quality labels, such as packaging labels, bottle labels and food labels, can be sourced from expert companies such as Labels Plus.

The following examples should provide you with some ideas when it comes to resolving your excessive packaging woes.


One retailer that understands the importance of downsizing packaging is Wal-Mart. The multinational corporation set a goal in 2007 to reduce its use of packaging by five per cent by 2013. It reached this target one year ahead of schedule. According to the company, it achieved this success by adopting a “more holistic approach that considers the environmental and economic impact of packaging” throughout the supply chain.

As part of its efforts to streamline this side of its business, the firm managed to make its sauce bottles 44 per cent lighter. It also cut its use of corrugated cardboard in the transportation of processed meats by 26 per cent.


Also achieving impressive results, office supply specialist Staples significantly cut back its packaging use thanks to investments in state-of-the-art technology. The company installed ‘on-demand packaging’ equipment at a number of its fulfilment centres in the US. The devices automatically create custom-sized boxes for every case of goods deemed ‘less than full size’.

This has enabled Staples to reduce its use of corrugated cardboard by over 15 per cent. Meanwhile, the business has lowered its use of cut air pillows by around 60 per cent. In turn, this has helped the firm to fit more orders into each of its delivery trucks.


Another large corporation that has taken packaging seriously over recent years is Dell. The computer manufacturer now ships nearly seven in ten of its laptops inside bamboo packaging. Because it can grow very quickly, this wood is considered much more sustainable than many other packaging materials. It can also be sourced close to the company’s factories in China.

In addition, Dell has developed a biodegradable, organic material that it says performs better in drop tests than traditional Styrofoam. The innovative packaging product is made by combining common agricultural waste products with mushroom spawn.

Partly as a result of these savvy solutions, the business has managed to lower the size of its packaging by over 12 per cent. Also, it has increased the amount of recycled and renewable materials it uses by 40 per cent.

Whether you’re looking to revolutionise your firm’s approach to packaging or you simply want to make some tweaks to help you achieve greater efficiencies, these case studies should provide you with plenty of inspiration.

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