Put Your Packaging on a Diet

This post was originally published on EBN.

Summer is over, fall has arrived, and winter is right around the corner. As the days grow shorter and colder, don’t let inertia take over. Instead, put your packaging on a diet.

Here are three reasons why a packaging slim down will improve the health of your company’s supply chain and the world:

1. You can save money. By reducing the amount of packing you use for a product and/or by using right-size packaging, you can reduce transportation costs and materials costs.

For example, the packaging used for Apple’s iPhone 5 is 28 percent smaller than the packaging that was used for the original iPhone. The reduction in the size of the packaging translates into being able to fit 60 percent more iPhones on each shipping pallet. Apple points out that this saves the company one 747 flight for every 416,667 units they ship.

Poland Spring provides another example. Poland Spring has reduced the amount of resin that goes into the making of their bottles by a significant amount — from 14.6 grams of resin per bottle in 2005 to 9.2 grams of resin per bottle in 2012. Not only is the bottle 40 percent lighter (read: reduced transportation cost), the company also saves a sizeable amount of money each year in materials. In a recent Slate.com article Kim Jeffery, CEO of Nestle Waters North America (Poland Spring’s parent company), is quoted as saying:

You can’t be a public company and ask shareholders to bear the burden of higher costs just so you can be green. It has to be consistent with creating shareholder value. There needs to be a return on these investments. So, for example, when you use 200 million fewer pounds of resin a year, at 90 cents a pound, that’s a huge savings.

By my calculations, that’s a savings of $180 million annually.

2. It is better for the environment. Putting your packaging on a diet can reduce the amount of waste, CO2 emissions, deforestation, water use, water contamination, and hazardous material use.

In a September 2013 Packaging Digest article, Ron Sasine, senior director of packaging for private brands for Walmart, wrote that as a result of the company’s efforts to reduce packaging it was “able to reduce the overall greenhouse gas impact of our packaging by an average of 9.8 percent in our Walmart U.S. stores, 9.1 percent in our Sam’s Clubs in the U.S. and 16 percent in our Walmart Canada stores.”

3. It makes your customers happy. A 2012 survey conducted by Packaging World and DuPont Packaging & Industrial Polymers found that the primary focus of the packaging world over the next 10 years will shift from cost to sustainability. Specifically, the report found that 45 percent of those surveyed believe that perceived “greenness” will be important to consumers.

Additionally, a 2012 study released by Perception Research Services reported that in 2011 significantly more shoppers were more likely to choose environmentally friendly packaging than in 2010 (36 percent versus 28 percent), and that half of shoppers surveyed were willing to pay for environmentally friendly packaging.

Tell us your thoughts on packaging trends in the electronics industry. What’s important to you and your customers?