As companies, even small family-owned ones, enter the global marketplace, shipping becomes an even more important aspect of business. Today’s small business owners are responding to customer demand and their own desire to make a positive contribution to the environment by trying to reduce waste.
Small businesses hoping to go green for their packing and shipping need to take several factors into account.
First, determine the exact environmental benefit if you were to change your packing and shipping materials. Just because a manufacturer advertises that a product is better for the environment doesn’t make the claim true. Find out the amount of energy that goes into the production and transportation of any new product to calculate its true environmental footprint.
Look at the added cost of transitioning to a more environmentally friendly product. Is your business prepared to absorb any increased expense or pass it along to customers? And are your customers willing to accept it? One natural pet food company conducted a survey of thousands of its customers and found that they would be willing to accept a 12 percent increase in price for eco-friendly packaging. But not every company’s user base will respond in the same way.
In addition, it is a good idea to ensure that it really is practical to use a new form of packaging. Get samples and query other businesses that have used the product. You want to be confident that the new materials will stand up to the kind of use your business will require of them.
Meanwhile, here are some ideas that you can implement immediately to make your packing and shipping practices more eco-friendly:
- Ship only when necessary. Many paper documents can be delivered electronically instead.
- Instead of automatically including free extras in packages, ask your customers to opt in to receive them.
- Use cardboard boxes and other packaging that is easy for the average consumer to recycle.
- Pack fragile items in shredded paper instead of Styrofoam.
- Check with UPS, a Worldwide Express business partner, to find out about its carbon-neutral options.