Business waste in Canada – when compared to other developed societies – is shamefully high; and the year over year trend seems to indicate that it is only getting worse. Understandably, the struggle is quite real for small and medium-sized businesses who often find themselves choosing between keeping costs down and doing their part to preserve one of Canada’s most enviable resources – the environment.
In this day and age of growing consumer eco-mindedness, it is evident that in order to remain competitive, businesses must bridge the opposing philosophies of “cost efficiency” and “eco-friendliness” and arrive at the conclusion that they need not be mutually exclusive ideals.
There are a number of inherent problems with the notion of “one size fits all” when it comes to shipping your product. The first is the increased risk of damage while in transit. True, giants like UPS and FedEx provide some assurance that your packages will arrive at their final destination unscathed, but using packaging materials that have not been tailored to your package’s dimensions needlessly increases the risk of damage to your product – and ultimately, to your reputation in the eyes of your customer.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you know that e-commerce is absolutely huge. The veritable explosion of e-commerce has wrought alongside of it an equally explosive product-packaging boom. Some retailers, like Canadian Tire, have incorporated waste management via the elimination of unnecessary packaging materials into their business sustainability strategy. Why? Because they’ve recognized not only the exorbitant cost of excessive packaging, but also the negative environmental impact it has.
There’s a lot to be said for using custom packaging design to encase your products. Consumers not only respond positively to the care that was put into the packaging, they also take note of the fact that using the least amount of material possible is a nod to the environment. People react favourably to companies that exhibit a concern for a cause that affects us all, and that first impression goes a long way in building a relationship (and repeat business) with your customer.
Precise packaging also increases shipping efficiency – meaning more product can be shipped per truck, which results in lower transport cost per unit – and if your business owns its own means of delivery, savings on fuel. And guess what? Less fuel means less exhaust belched into the air.
While many smaller companies the world over compete directly against retail giants like Walmart, it should by no means prevent you from taking a page out of their book, or at the very least benefit from their ability to influence their supply-chain partners. The American retailer offered incentives to suppliers that fell in-line with their green philosophy while dropping those that didn’t.
The end-result of this “our way or the highway” strategy is that the eco-friendly packaging model has been proved to not only be healthy for the bottom line, but also reaffirms that this fundamentally financial goal can coincide with being green.
Like Walmart, many large companies have absorbed the cost of analyzing the data; determining the impact that sustainable materials and packaging strategies have on their business and on the environment.
With these types of initiatives it’s important to have a long-term vision. The cost associated with green packaging may give the impression that they are more costly; but remember to consider the intangibles; how your customer will perceive your company and the likelihood that your business will stand out in their mind.