Even in the Great Recession, businesses in every industry are pushing forward with sustainability because boosting profitability and going green go hand in hand. Still, it can be surprising how much of their eco-benefit often comes from beyond their walls through factors like shipping and packaging. Partners like Hisco that deliver greener shipping solutions from ExpandOS, Hexapack, 3M, and Green Line Armor pallets can extend sustainability throughout supply chains.
Shipping and packaging have a major impact on the environment and the bottom line. Wal-Mart is developing a more efficient fleet of trucks, hoping to double the efficiency of its long-haul fleet by 2015 with steps like inflating tires, cutting down on idle time, and buying more efficient trucks.
The impact of shipping also comes from packaging material, crates, and pallets. Wal-Mart is eliminating all packaging waste from its US stores by 2025, a major issue with foamed styrene products, packaging peanuts, and other packaging materials that generate tons of waste and aren’t usually recycled or reused. They also don’t always provide the best protection against breakage. ExpandOS are an inventive alternative, with small triangular folded structures made of strong, rigid paper that provide both more sustainable packaging and superior protection, saving space and reducing shipping costs. Heath Ceramics, the producer of high-end tableware, found that losses due to breakage dropped dramatically when they switched to ExpandOS, from 30-35% losses down to less than 0.01%.
Hexapack is another shipping solution that reduces costs and boosts sustainability with a revolutionary alternative to wooden crates. Hexapack is made from paper constructed with a honeycomb shape that provides very strong support and crush resistance but at a fraction of the weight of wood. Lighter means cheaper for shipping, and greener because less virgin wood is used for crating, with less waste produced.
Pallets don’t always get a lot of attention, except when people want to burn them. And that’s part of the problem. Pallets cost money but wood pallets are weakly constructed, prone to damage, often stolen, and waste wood as well as money. Of all the trees harvested in the US, 40% are used to make these pallets that are largely disposable, making pallets the eight most common object filling up landfills. To solve this, Green Line Armor is producing the Hybrid Sustained Use Pallet (SUP) with extremely durable bio-composite material protecting their ends. Built to last, these pallets are sturdy enough to last far longer than regular pallets, slashing wood use, and using less money to buy new pallets. Green Line Armor pallets are also protected by RFID technology to keep them from getting stolen, and their ten year warranty shows that these guys mean business.
Tapes, sealants and adhesives are essential for shipping, and 3M has been a world leader in both sustainability and tapes for decades. They are replacing solvents with water, doing to “cradle to cradle” analysis of products, and using more renewable resources. Constantly finding new ways to improve their environmental profile, 3M manufacturing has reduced waste by 34%, reduced energy use by 50%, and reduced VOC emissions 78% since 2000. Their extensive R&D effort with tapes, sealants, and adhesives has made them an industry leader in performance and value, as well as sustainability.
Necessity is still the mother of invention, and businesses need inventive solutions like these. Businesses like Hisco can make the change to better and greener shipping easy. Visit the Green Manufacturing Expo West 2010 at the Anaheim Convention Center, February 9-11 to talk to Hisco and get started.
Glenn Croston is the author of “Starting Green” and “75 Green Businesses”, and the founder of Starting Up Green, helping green businesses to get started and grow.