Recycling seems like a straightforward thing from the consumer vantage point: A little bit of sorting, put it in the bin, and it’s whisked away, recycled into the many products we all buy that contain recycled material. Only it’s not as beneficial as it may seem, since a substantial percentage of the material gets sent to China for processing: an unnecessary carbon burden and a drain on our economy.
What if the boxes, as they are, could be reused? It’s a simple idea with profound possibilities, that Boxsmart is exploring.
Think for a moment: Just because a box has been used once, doesn’t mean it is no longer usable. But, barring a business reusing them itself, there’s not been an easy, clear path to do this. Even this limited reuse is beyond the time and will of most companies.
Boxsmart has another option for companies to consider:It buys company’s boxes, recycling those which aren’t reusable, and selling what is. Boxsmart stocks over 800 sizes, an inventory of more than 3 million boxes total. Boxsmart claims that companies supplying these boxes will make 50-100% more revenue than traditional recycling. Whether or not that’s the case, the ability to eliminate time spent sorting, crushing and baling boxes will in itself save substantial time and resources.
Then on the other end, those buying boxes save 25-50% on what they’d typically pay for new boxes. Never mind the benefit from using recycled materials to make new boxes, when there are perfectly functional existing ones, right? On a more pragmatic level, this is a way to reduce expenses in this challenging economy.
Beyond the lessened environmental impact and decreased cost it brings companies, Boxsmart is a socially beneficial company, employing over 500 physically and mentally challenged people at 20+ non-profit sorting, processing, and assembly facilities across the US.
All well and good, but I’d be curious to see what types of companies are using Boxsmart boxes. Consumer facing, or primarily for intracompany shipping? It’s one thing for eBay to create attractive, ego stroking reusable boxes, but will the average consumer accept/respect a brand that uses used boxes?
Readers: Are you a company that uses boxes? Would you use such a service? Why or why not? What if anything needs to be improved in Boxsmart’s business model?
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations about, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media marketing.