Packaging is used in excess across the board and sadly its use is more often superficial than necessary.
- By luxury brands to increase perception of grandeur and justify the price.
- Companies add bulky packaging is added solely to claim more shelf space/display space.
- The food industry where food preservation, presentation and smaller 'convenient' sizes have overtaken commonsense.
- And of course throughout the rapidly growing e-commerce industry where over packaging is rife.
But the one that has amazed me is the packaging that you never seen...
The ridiculously excessive packaging that is used for new products sent in bulk to retail stores, distribution warehouses, e-commerce suppliers, or direct to the consumer supposedly from e-commerce stores. It is removed out in the stockroom and discarded before products go near customers.
Before this journey I had no idea how much waste was created in the stockroom, that a large majority of this packaging is unnecessary, sadly flying under the radar and often completely unnoticed .
You may so 'no' to a bag for that new T-Shirt at the checkout, which is great...but what packaging waste has already been discarded in that T-Shirts lifetime?
According to China’s State Post Bureau, more than 31 billion parcels were delivered in 2016, a year-on-year increase of 51.4%. The average daily processing volume of express delivery reached 85 million pieces, the maximum daily processing capacity exceeded 250 million pieces.
At Intentionally Sustainable we order all of our stock in bulk and special request no packaging, we then carefully check and ECO-PACK each individual item ourselves and get it ready and waiting for you to order.
This is time consuming, expensive and tedious! We individually wrap each item that arrives ourselves, this means pinning tens of thousands of pegs onto cards, tying bows around thousands of baking liners, folding a ridiculous amount of produce bags, menstrual pads, rolling and wrapping silicone covers etc etc etc...
It has not been easy...
- Many suppliers refuse to send without packaging as they worry about damage etc.
- We need to order huge numbers at a time to negotiate this 'special request'.
- We need to place our orders sometimes 3 months in advance to ensure we are getting the product straight off of the production line otherwise they are simply removing the packaging before they send it.
It has not been smooth sailing...
- We learnt that customs do not like a bunch of random items with no packaging turning up at the border.
- We learnt that product instructions are usually on the packaging.
- We learnt that we need to send continuous reminders stating no packaging.
- We learnt that no matter what we do packaging is sometimes unavoidable.
- We learnt that some suppliers will send the items without packaging but will send enough plastic bag in with the order for all of the stock grrrr!
It definitely has not been cost effective...
- Suppliers can often charge more for no packaging. (go figure?)
- We have to purchase all of the paper bags, raffia string, kraft card and other items to wrap everything.
- We need to hire extra staff to do this, and pay for enough space to do this.
- We are charged extra for postage because we won't use trackpacks.
We don't always get it right...but we intentionally act with integrity & authenticity to be as sustainable as possible.
Now guess what?
Last week we received our first order ever with 'minimal packaging please'!!!
Because we are so packaging conscious it had never crossed my mind, but with the growth of e-commerce if everyone adds this every time it could make a big difference.