Understanding Packaging's Role in Environmental Impact

The total environmental impact of every e-commerce order is the total of many different factors. Manufacturing resources, primary packaging, distribution, and the shipping cycle are all part of the total impact. Using the example of a tablet, the shipping cycle (the journey from distribution center to consumer) accounts for about 2% of the total environmental impact of that tablet. Of that 2%, packaging materials accounts for about 15% of the shipping cycle’s impact. That equals about .003% of the total environmental impact.

Doesn’t seem like a valuable place to look for sustainability improvements, right? Wrong.

If a tablet is broken during the shipping cycle because the wrong protective packaging was used, the environmental impact of that tablet just doubled.

The resources used to manufacture a replacement, ship the replacement to the consumer, and return the broken product can more than double a product's sustainability impact.Damage Product Environmental Impact

Preventing damage is often the most sustainable thing a manufacturer can do when shipping its products. 

Even a 1% Damage Rate Is an Unacceptable Damage Rate

Many manufacturers are willing to accept “small” damage rates of 1% to 3%. Accepting this amount of damage may seem inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be. Every damaged product results not only in unnecessary environmental resource waste, but also damages a customer relationship. One electronics manufacturer sold over 44 million tablets in 2018. If they accepted 1% damage, that means they are willing to risk losing 440,000 customers and doubling the environmental impact of those 440,000 tablets.

 Our Packaging Application Centers are dedicated to designing and testing a protective packaging solution that ensures a safe, sustainable shipping cycle. 

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Blog: Understanding the True Cost of Damage

Read more from our director of sustainability, Dan Healey, on how damage impacts a company's sustainable profile.

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