By Michelle Marin  September 2018

Online Shopping and Packaging

The number one online shopping customer complaint is not hard to guess. It is excessive packaging. Few people will find the tale of a three-inch battery arriving in a 12″ x 9” x 6” box alarming. Indeed, many people have experienced something similar. The tech industry attempts to place some focus on environmental and social responsibility. However, online retail companies struggle to correct the issue of excessive packaging, especially as the product line and variety increases. Enter Packsize and On Demand Packaging.

Today's packages
The packages we get today.

Packaging Solution

On Aug. 23, Skytop Strategies hosted a Disruptive Sustainability Technologies conference in Palo Alto. In attendance were companies and organizations that disrupt the status quo with innovative business models and products. Packsize CEO Hanko Kiessner was no exception as he presented “The Box: Disrupting the Corrugated Supply Chain”. Packsize is a software company that creates exact necessary dimensions for shipped products. Kiessner highlighted the implications of excessive packaging. 40% of shipments are air. This renders 24 million shipping truckloads each year unnecessary. There are numerous social, environmental, and health effects of so many excessive truckloads: premature deaths from respiratory diseases, climate change, and increased stress from extreme vehicle traffic to name a few.

Impact on the Shipping Supply Chain

The goal of Packsize is simple: make packaging fit the product. It’s logical, and we have all thought of it. However, the way Packsize makes this work is not only effective but efficient. Often, a customer will open a box to find a smaller box inside which contains the actual product. Other times, a customer will open a package to find plastic filling material surrounding the product. As a result, home recycling bins overflow with boxes and plastic. Packsize seeks to eliminate redundant boxing by making the initial packaging shippable. They ensure product privacy and protection through blank, sturdy packaging. Furthermore, with Packsize, the initial (and only!) box actually fits the product, making filling material unnecessary.

Packaging Disrupter

Packsize automation disrupts several industries:

  • Uses 26% less paper, impacting the paper industry
  • Upends the entire multi-billion dollar filling material industry
  • Allows shippers to fit 40% more product, affecting the freight and paper industries
  • Eliminates 50% of the total shipping supply chain

Packsize also extends the lifecycle of products and minimizes consumables through the heavy reuse of their material. Traditional shipping boards are made of non-biodegradable plastic polymers, and unfortunately, there are few formalities which dictate box reuse. Alternatively, the Packbot takes used board and fits it into dimensions for a new product. The board is reused until the biodegradable polymers (lignin and cellulose) of that box can become compost. Through this, Packsize claims their boards can be reused up to twelve times. Although, methods to ensure box reuse once the product has shipped to homes remains to be seen.

But can PackBots compete with traditional packing methods?

By implementing PackBots in their production facilities, online retailers do not need to use a packaging company because they can make their packages on-site for their exact products. Dimensions tailor-made for each product could compromise efficiency. However, according to Packsize, “one PackBot is designed to create a Regular Slotted Container [RSC] in twelve seconds. PackBot can produce 300 fully erected and bottom-sealed RSC boxes per hour. This automation will accomplish with one operator what it would formerly take four packaging operators to accomplish manually.” It would seem the PackBot can handle even the most intensive packaging demands. Indeed, the Packbot’s only spatial limitation comes from the shipping label.

Packsize is not only a sustainable choice but an economic one. It is obvious why companies like Staples have chosen to utilize Packsize. With the increasing human population, innovative solutions that decrease our collective impact on the earth’s natural resources are more important than ever, and Packsize contributes to making a positive change.

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