An often overlooked area of a business’ operation in terms of sustainability is shipping. Before you send another order to a distributor or customer, make sure you are following these environmentally sensitive – and sensible – shipping suggestions:
- Send your products in boxes that are recycled from a sustainably managed forest. Look for packaging certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council.
- Use eco-friendly filling material. Avoid Styrofoam, which is hazardous to the environment. It is petroleum-based and non-sustainable and its manufacturing process generates a great deal of waste. Instead, use fibrous blocking materials such as corrugated inserts.
- Keep packaging as small as possible. Reducing the size and volume of your packages not only uses fewer materials but also takes up less space in transit, thus reducing your carbon footprint. Compact packaging is also good for your bottom line, cutting material costs and increasing your products’ speed to market.
- Use a green shipping company to have your products delivered. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Smart Way program provides information on low-emission transportation companies. Click here for more info.
- Arrange for package pickup – instead of driving to a shipping office. Major delivery service routes are optimized to be fuel-efficient.
- Have an eco-friendly return plan in place. Processing a return can be environmentally irresponsible because of the fuel used and pollution created in sending the product back to its source. For less valuable items, consider sending a new product without requesting the old one back. This avoids pollution caused by return shipping. Or, if the product is more valuable, accept the merchandise and refurbish it so as not waste the material – and have it end up in a landfill.
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