New Research Shows Companies Could Save $46 Billion with More Sustainable Packaging

(Credit: Pixabay)

by | Aug 17, 2020

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(Credit: Pixabay)

DS Smith, a sustainable packaging company, today launched its Circular Design Principles, citing research that shows better packaging design could save the industry $46 billion a year in logistics costs globally. This comes as pandemic-induced online shopping has boosted demand for boxes.

New research reveals that consumers are carefully considering company sustainability practices before purchasing, especially when it comes to wasted space. Nearly all consumers (93%) reported they have received packages with wasted space, and nearly three-fourths (73%) have received packages that were twice the size or more needed. All this wasted space has left a bad taste in consumer’s minds and wallets, as 54% reported they would think twice before ordering again from a company that had excessive space in their packaging.

DS Smith developed the design principles in collaboration with the non-profit Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a global organization that promotes a circular economy to reduce consumption, waste and pollution by keeping products in use. The new program helps guide companies in designing reuse and recyclability into packaging. DS Smith recently marked its first successful year of collaboration with the Foundation, and in its second year will be working on a series of activities to further its ambitious circular economy agenda including innovation and circular design projects, training and development of its teams and engagement in its communities.

According to a survey of executives by Forbes Insights and DS Smith, eliminating empty space in packaging can produce big benefits for businesses that ship goods, from scoring significant savings to gaining an advantage over its competition – all while reducing its environmental impact.

About 60% of those surveyed estimate more than a quarter of their e-commerce packaging is empty space, from misshapen delivery boxes to partially filled international shipping containers. DS Smith said that based on its proprietary research, cutting those unnecessary logistics costs would result in $46 billion a year in potential savings for the industry worldwide.

The five Circular Design Principles are:

  1. Protect brands and products: Designers must ensure the packaging protects products and all the resources invested in them. Damaged products from poor packaging have an economic and environmental impact.
  2. Use no more materials than necessary: Optimizing the use of packaging materials saves resources and reduces waste.
  3. Design for supply cycle efficiency: Developing an end-to-end approach that considers every step of the way, including storage and warehouse optimization, customers’ factories, packaging lines, and the layout of products within boxes for stacking in delivery vehicles.
  4. Keep packaging materials in use: Quality, durability, and recyclability are key to keeping packaging products and materials in use for as long as possible. This means maximizing the use of the fibers and recognizing the value beyond the primary function.
  5. Find a better way: Challenging ourselves and our customers to develop circular packaging solutions.

“Everything is designed – from the clothes we wear, to the food we eat, and the buildings we live in,” said Joe Iles, circular design program lead at Ellen MacArthur Foundation. “Considering the principles of the circular economy at the design stage can have a huge influence over how such items are produced, used, and what happens to them after use. Strategic Partners like DS Smith have the ability to make change happen faster by mobilizing its large internal design community and influencing its customers, many of which are global brands. And what’s more, the company will also inspire many other businesses and designers worldwide.”

Consumers are doing their part with packaging end-use; 80% either recycle or reuse boxes they receive their purchases in.

E-commerce, which has spiked amid the coronavirus pandemic, is a major contributor to the empty space design problem. DS Smith research found that on average, empty space ranged from 18% for clothing and footwear to 64% for glassware.

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