Years of innovation and refinement have produced packaging technologies and solutions that deliver high performance at a very low cost. However, there is growing evidence that these modern approaches struggle to keep up with the changing needs of companies, consumers and the environment.
Businesses want their branded packaging to represent them in a positive way, but consumers become frustrated if it is hard to use and difficult to recycle. Packaging waste also represents a significant environmental challenge.
At DHL Express, we have been thinking about how these developments are likely to impact the packaging solutions seen in today’s supply chains, and how new approaches to packaging will shape future logistics operations and processes. In DHL’s latest Trend Report, titled Rethinking Packaging, we look into the future of packaging in the logistics industry.
Trends shaping packaging strategies in logistics
- Public awareness of packaging waste
- Demand for sustainable packaging material
- Delivering outstanding customer service
The rise of e-commerce as a major retail channel for many product categories has had a huge impact on the requirements of packaging including robustness, sustainability and brand experience. An e-commerce package is handled 20 times more frequently on a journey from the distribution centre to the consumer’s home than when transported on a pallet to a retail store. With each of those touchpoints presenting an opportunity for the item to be dropped or damaged, e-commerce supply chains create much higher requirements for product protection.
While product protection in transit is highly relevant, this needs to be balanced with packaging ease of use for the customer. E-commerce retailers have encouraged the development of packaging designs that prioritise access with minimal effort. Amazon, for example, promotes the concept of ‘frustration-free packaging’, which requires packages to be easily accessible, recyclable, and designed to minimise waste. The company says that, since it began the programme in 2008, they have removed 180,000 tonnes of packaging, including 307 million boxes, from the supply chain.
The sustainability challenge
Analysis of e-commerce parcels shows that around 24 per cent of their volume is empty space. In the fast fashion industry this number tends to be even higher due to the lack of structure in clothing and accessories.
Offering a unique combination of light weight, effective protection and low cost, plastic packaging accounts for around a quarter of the estimated 8.3 billion tonnes of the material produced since it was first commercialized in the 1950s. Only 14 per cent of the plastic packaging used globally is recycled today and when sent to landfill, takes over 450 years to decompose. Public concern over the impact of plastic on the environment is also driving consumer demand for alternative packaging solutions. A survey by International Post Corporation found that 60 per cent of respondents want parcels to be packaged sustainably.
What’s clear is that the world is consuming more packaging than ever before. In trying to balance cost, operational efficiency, product protection and user experience, today’s packaging solutions all too often come up short.Download and read the full Trend Report to find out the sector-specific needs and innovations, as well as how we can rethink these packaging needs in the logistics industry.
At DHL, we can work with your organisation to rethink packaging and unlock its full potential. Together we can create new value that may have been sitting on the shelf, in the box, on the doorstep, or in your warehouse the whole time. To find out more, talk to ustoday.