Ten Ways to Make Your Secondary Packaging Greener in 2010

Dennis Salazar

January 30, 2014

4 Min Read
Ten Ways to Make Your Secondary Packaging Greener in 2010


packaging is the first thing your customer sees

“Secondary packaging is the first thing your customers see but the last thing on your mind” is a great line our marketing director came up with for one of our brochures, because it is so true, especially if you are one of the up and coming e-commerce companies. All of those boxes, tape and void fill you use to get your product from point A to point B are a major expense, but also a terrific opportunity to be eco-consistent and make a great first impression.

Here are ten ways secondary packaging can help you reach your overall sustainability objectives in 2010 as well as reduce packaging costs.

1. Use the 80/20 rule to right size your secondary packaging.
One of the most common mistakes we see is companies sizing their packaging for the largest size product they ship rather than the largest volume product they ship.

2. Consolidate box sizes
If you have more than a dozen box sizes and unless you are P&G or Kraft, make 2010 the year you review your box sizes in an effort to reduce inventory. Almost every packaging audit results in sizes that can easily be eliminated.

3. Look at your packaging from the recipient’s perspective, not yours
Example - most customers do not consider white boxes as eco friendly as brown boxes and generally they are right. White boxes also look great when they are outbound but not so good when they are inbound.

4. Identify and eliminate sustainable dead ends
Simply put, if it can’t be recycled or reused, don’t utilize it. The perfect example is those paper/poly bubble laminate mailers used by almost every company. A mailer that is all plastic or all paper has a chance of being recycled. The paper/poly combination can only end up in the nearest landfill.

5. Grade your packaging on an “eco obvious” scale
Not only is it green, is it obviously green? Recently someone in the sustainability business asked me if there was an easy way to tell the difference between eco friendly, biodegradable packing peanuts and the plastic ones? That indicates corn starch, biodegradable, or other eco friendly packing peanuts are not as eco obvious as some believe.

6. Commit to using recycled packaging materials whenever possible
If we recycle and we all should, we also have an obligation to try to use as much recycled product as possible. Why do companies use corrugated pallet pads and sheets made of virgin board? Only two possible reasons: they don’t know or they don’t care.

7. Re-evaluate eco friendly plastics for void fill and cushioning
Bubble and inflatable products have come a long way in the last twelve months and the cost has come down to earth making them cost and performance competitive. They are also very economical to use, ship and store so it may be a great time to reconsider them as a void fill or protective packaging option.


Rush Package

8. Consider custom size, custom grade and custom print packaging
As important as branding has become, there are many cost and environmental reasons to go green with custom products. Example – many companies use large volumes of “stock” box sizes even though they are larger than necessary, require more void fill and result in higher shipping costs. The correct size can save money in all of those areas.

9. Give paper box sealing tape another look
Many companies originally began box sealing with water activated paper tape but made the switch to plastic for convenience reasons. WAT dispensers are now less expensive, easier to use and remember, paper always trumps plastic in any eco comparison.

10. Review your shipping container options
Sometimes the best, most eco friendly box is no box at all. A great example is the number of companies who ship soft goods in corrugated boxes rather than low cost plastic or paper shipper envelopes.

The world of packaging materials is constantly changing, especially recently with the increased interest in sustainability. Even if you reviewed your packaging operation just two short years ago, you may be terribly out of date. 2010 may be the best year yet to go green and reduce cost while doing it.

Sign up for the Packaging Digest News & Insights newsletter.

You May Also Like