Judging by the number of times the issue gets raised on the internet, poor packaging is endemic, Kiessner says. "This is unsustainable," he adds, claiming that many packages, especially corrugated boxes, are too large for the items they contain. Roughly 40 percent of shipping volumes today are "unnecessary," he says.
To eliminate that particular form of waste, designers need to take a look at the entire supply chain, starting with the forestry industry and extending to the doorstep of the receiver. Kiessner sees a "fundamental disconnect" between what the corrugated industry is set up to provide and what customers actually want. It's not prepared to deliver packaging that is tailored to specific orders.
The solution lies in creation of an "on-demand" packaging system, Kiessner says. It calls for a box not to be created until an order is ready to be shipped. When it is, the box is designed to the right specifications and style, containing the least possible amount of corrugate and fill material.
In addition, the box should be recyclable. That's far from an unattainable goal, given that 85 percent of corrugated cardboard in the U.S. is recycled up to seven times until it enters a landfill.
The revamped system wouldn't necessarily involve much in the way of additional cost. "We want to deliver savings on day one," says Kiessner. A greater push for sustainability can actually cut total packaging expense, with designers utilizing between 30 percent to 40 percent less material. "None of our customers want to be in the box-creation business," he says. Still, progress "requires a change in the corrugated supply chain."
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Keywords: supply chain, supply chain management, global logistics, transportation management, packaging supply chain, logistics services, supply chain planning, green supply chain, supply chain sustainability, retail supply chain
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