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29th July 2016

Avoiding excess packaging

Excess Packaging


Online shopping, including click and collect, is the fastest growing retail channel which has significantly impacted the industry and consumer shopping habits. Online retail spend in the UK reached £114bn in 2015, growing 11% in the year and the speed of growth is not slowing down.


Packaging items ordered online is a challenge for retailers, however, the volume is still a long way behind the grocery sector which accounts for 70% of UK packaging (WRAP).


Where margins are tight and prices highly competitive one explanation for excess packaging is logistics. For example, it’s simpler to stack boxes than tubes. It’s easier again to manage a reduced number of standardised box sizes when loading onto pallets, in warehouses, on trucks, in store rooms and post rooms.


Also, for customers convenience is the key driver for online shopping and items damaged in transit undermine the business model. Whilst damaged packaging relegates retail items to the sorry shelf at the end of an aisle with the other dented, taped up and reduced products, or straight in the bin.


Clearly it’s best practice to avoid excess packaging. Companies that use large volumes of packaging must comply with the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive which requires them to:


  • use recycled and recyclable materials for packaging
  • minimise the volume and weight of packaging
  • prevent packaging waste



As well as complying with regulations there are environmental benefits for optimising packaging:


  • reduce raw materials and energy required for production
  • source sustainable materials which can be reused
  • paper and cardboard are organic materials which produce methane when they rot in landfill



Also, financial arguments to avoid excess packaging include:


  • compact packages are space efficient meaning more items can be transported in a single trip. Royal Mail and several courier companies charge more for posting larger parcels so optimised parcels will reduce postage costs.
  • reducing the volume of packaging required saves at the purchasing and storage stage.
  • look for ways to introduce reusable items into the system e.g. strong plastic boxes to carry and store small items



Whilst plenty can be done to reduce packaging across the supply chain it’s inevitable that some waste will be generated. SWR specialises in working with our customers to identify and implement optimised solutions to meet waste management objectives.


Contact the team to discuss your requirements 0800 038 0300 /


Also, see:

WRAP Packaging

John Lewis Retail Report 2015; How We Shop, Live and Look has good stats about omnichannel shopping (starting on pg 10)