Dennis Salazar

January 30, 2014

3 Min Read
What Is Driving Your Secondary Packaging Choices?

Recently I was participating in an interesting online discussion with some green business owners I know, when I experienced another one of my now chronic moments of unchecked bluntness.

I probably surprised some when I stated that in my opinion, the majority of people, even those with the best intentions, are not using the best, greenest or even the most economical secondary packaging they could, for their particular application. Rather, they tend to buy what they use out of habit or convenience, make their decision based on price rather than cost, and very rarely consider the long term environmental consequences of their choices.

Habit or Convenience

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what drives your secondary packaging decisions

I realize we are all busy and in many cases are attempting to do more with less people so it seems much easier to maintain the status quo rather than take the time to evaluate and consider new secondary packaging products or the new potential suppliers who are offering them. “If it’s not broke” has become the mantra to many people who are often times overwhelmed by the things that are broke and require their immediate attention.

“My current supplier matched your price so now I don’t have to set up a new vendor,” said a potential client to me when I called him to follow up on our proposal. It’s not easy to be simultaneously honest and unethical but somehow he managed it and all I could do was wish him well. I also wondered how he would react if his active or potential customers shared his company’s pricing with their current suppliers.

Price per Unit versus Cost per Application

We buy case sealing tape by the roll or case, and void fill by the bag and boxes by the bundle but we use them by their “cost per application”. A product that seems like a great bargain on a purchase order may be costing a lot more in its actual use. Here are some examples of how that can be true:

  • Packers will often compensate for poor quality, thin tape, with a weak adhesive, by using two or three strips of it. The buyer get’s the low price per roll he wanted and the supplier is likely to maintain or even enhance his margin by providing a poor quality product.

  • “My loose void fill is VERY economical,” users often say and yes, based on a cost per cubic foot, they are often correct when compared to other void fill alternatives. However, the cost per unit does not take into account packing labor cost, clean up labor costs, inbound freight cost, out bound shipping costs or storage and handling costs which all add cost.

  • A low price per bundle of boxes may be masking a higher than realized damage rate and lower than anticipated quality standard. A supplier needs to make money to stay in business and when forced to provide a low price, they are often times forced to make it up on the other (manufacturing cost) end.

What is more disturbing and surprising to me is when a buyer of packaging products - for an eco minded company - is willing to compromise on the relative greenness of the products he or she buys for the sake of convenience and/or a low price per unit.

That will be the focus of part two of this post and I hope you will come back and read when it is published.

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