We have all experienced it–you buy a gadget at your favorite store, and you have to pry your new toy out of obnoxious plastic packaging that is about the size of your car’s windshield. It seems as if the smaller an electronic gadget becomes, the laws of physics become more defied: that new tiny smartphone or MP3 player leaves you at home with a mound of cardboard, plastic, and Styrofoam. Even if your community recycles and you use reusable canvas bags, the amount of waste from a Costco or Target shopping run is disturbing. Fortunately, more companies, including Cisco, are developing eco-friendly packaging solutions that not only reduce waste, but save money.
Cisco recently began a pilot program seeking to bundle some of its products into “smarter” packaging. One product line not only reduced the amount of packaging by one-third, but increased its transportation load efficiency by 50% and saved the company US$1.3 million in shipping costs. Across the entire pilot project, Cisco eliminated 4 million pounds of packaging.
2) Right-size: Use one piece of cushioning instead of multiple pieces of plastic or Styrofoam.
3) Sustain: Find materials like honeycombed paper that most communities can easily recycle–good-bye Styrofoam peanuts!
Finally, companies should work with their vendors and demonstrate not only the environmental benefits of reduced packaging, but the costs saved in freight, fuel, and resources. It is not an easy task when you have hundreds, or even thousands, of suppliers, but Costco is a model of how companies can improve their sustainability performance while pocketing green, allowing such benefits to trickle down its supply chain.