Did you know that one-third of consumer waste comes from shipping materials? Aside from the warm and fuzzy feelings being a good steward of the earth brings, being eco-friendly is good for your reputation and builds brand loyalty. According to an online Nielsen global survey, 66% of respondents say they are willing to pay more for products and services that come from companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact. Specifically, three out of four Millennials, say they will pay more for products that are sustainable and socially responsible. Do you see a pattern here? To build a loyal following being green is now officially a requirement and not at all hard to do. Keep reading for five ways to green your shipping strategy.
Keep Your Lists Clean
Reduce mail to the wrong address or those who requested to be removed from your mailing list. Maintain strict list hygiene procedures including regular National Change of Address (NCOA) and CASS certification to improve deliverability. In addition, create a suppression file for all mailing list deletion requests; de-dupe every mailing against the suppression file to reduce mail that will end up in the landfill.
Purchase Green Shipping Supplies
When possible, purchase shipping containers and supplies from vendors whose products meet the certification standards from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and Forest Stewardship Council. Approved products ensure sustainable manufacturing processes, which extend the life of precious natural resources thereby reducing long-term environmental impact. The selection of eco-friendly options is vast and priced low enough to preserve profit, all while being a good global citizen. Examples include:
- Shipping supplies made from 100% recycled materials. Includes boxes, cartons, shipping labels, packing tape, filler materials, and padded/poly mailers. Use paper, cardboard, or paperboard containers whenever possible.
- Filler products made from biodegradable cornstarch or plastic that decomposes when exposed to sunlight.
- Packing tape that is plant-based and biodegradable or consider paper tape. In all cases, use the highest quality eco-product available. If it requires tons of tape to replace the standard choice, it is clearly not better for Mother Earth.
Use Smart Packaging Design
Use the lightest box required for shipping, less bulk leaves a lighter carbon footprint from manufacturing through shipping to the post-recycling process. Less is always better. Select a vendor with the capability of creating packaging that is just the right fit reducing the need for extra filler and possibly reducing overall shipping cost.
Contract Packagers or Co-Packers are specialists on what it takes to create, fill, pack, and produce packages of all types. For particularly complex, expensive, or perishable items, it pays to pair up with an expert from the start. To support your green initiative, engage a Co-Packer that specialized in socially conscious practices. There are companies that specialize in custom external boxes, others offer packaging solutions for bulky, expensive items, and some have even developed a cooler with biodegradable foam/plastic for items requiring refrigerated shipping.
Find a Green Shipper
Saving fuel is the single biggest way to conserve energy throughout the shipping process. Less driving equals less petroleum product usage, reduced air pollution, and expedited delivery. Sophisticated shippers with extensive transportation partners that utilize drop-shipping and commingling strategies are by far your best choice.
Drop Shipping works by cutting out the first three delivery requirements of the standard USPS delivery process and loads pre-sorted mail directly onto a freight truck, which arrives at the final destination postal facility expediting delivery to the recipient. A commingling service consolidates millions of pieces of mail, pre-sorts to the closest destination point, and processes them through a high-speed delivery point barcode scanner directing the piece to one of 294 USPS pockets. It’s not the same as combining mail together in one bin and drop shipping from a bulk mail unit; way more sophisticated stuff. Commingling is a mail optimization tool that does most of the work for the post office, thereby getting it close to the end delivery point so USPS barely touches it. Reduced touches mean fewer vehicles and people in the process, reducing overall carbon emissions.
Recycle, Recycle, Recycle
The Environmental Protection Agency recognizes all mixed paper waste as recyclable, if not already offered by your county, enact a recycling program at your business. Put your money where your mouth is, buy recycled raw materials and products for your office wherever possible, for ideas see the EPA’s Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines. Always recycle electronic products including computers, cell phones, and printers, view this quick list of electronic recycling centers near you or visit earth 911.
Offer customers the option to recycle your products with free return programs, convenient drop-offs, and programs that offer credit to those who recycle. Encourage recipients to recycle by marking packaging with simple “Recycle Me” instructions. For lots of other great ideas download the Green15 Toolkit from the Direct Marketing Association.
Exciting progress has been made! The wood and paper industry plants 1.7 million new trees every day — over 650 million each year, more than making up for all the products made of wood/paper. In fact, since 1987 U.S. forests have increased by 12 million acres to 755 million nationwide — about the same as 100 years ago. Why not become part of the solution today?
Ready to develop a green shipping strategy? At Three Dog Logistics, our consultants will help develop a plan that delivers client solutions at the lowest cost and fastest delivery speed possible. Remember, we take the bite out of postage and freight. Visit www.threedoglogistics.com or call 410-284-5494 extension 220 to schedule a complimentary consultation today.