There are many reasons why your business should endeavour to use the right size of cardboard box for each delivery. These include safety for the contents and the minimising of the transportation and internal packaging and filling costs. There are, however, two other important considerations: public opinion and the environment.
Amazon has responded to these concerns by announcing that it is trying out new technology to prevent the use of oversized cardboard boxes for small items after a public backlash over the practice and a challenge from celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall as part of a BBC programme called War on Waste.
Some of Amazon’s most famous packaging ‘mistakes’ include a giant box being used for a small key ring and a cardboard box being used for an item that could have been sent in an envelope.
Amazon has been using CubiScan packing software, which scans and weighs items before choosing from a range of 17 packaging types, but the company has now revealed new plans for the future after being accused of being the cause of a ‘cardboard crisis’.
The company announced on the War on Waste show that a pilot scheme is now running using Box on Demand, a new type of box-fitting technology option that is said to offer a wider range of boxes. Amazon hopes that this will ensure a better match between items and cardboard boxes, but it might be almost two years before the firm’s customers notice a difference.
Nicola Sweeney, an Amazon regional operations director, and Kara Hurst, the global head of sustainability, spoke to the BBC programme as the company allowed Fearnley-Whittingstall rare access to its Swansea distribution centre. They said that they were aware that improvements were possible in relation to choice of cardboard boxes used for delivery but said there was also a need to ensure that contents were not packed too tightly in order to prevent damage.
The War on Waste documentary highlights the problem Amazon has been facing when it shows a machine choosing a large cardboard box to package a small tub which should logically be sent in a reduced-sized package.
Fearnley-Whittingstall, a major anti-waste campaigner, says that the company believes that the new packing software will improve the packaging process by ensuring that packaging is made to fit items’ specific dimensions. This, he says, ‘sounds great’,as it should lead to a reduction in wasted cardboard, along with a lower number of vehicles being needed to complete deliveries.