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Boosting Brand Sustainability by Improving Logistics and Shipping Footprint

Learn ways to improve your logistics and shipping footprint that includes exploring alternate transportation options, sourcing locally, and designing your package for optimal logistics.


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Welcome to Sustainable Packaging Explained, your guide to sustainable materials, methods, and package design, produced by the Emerging Brands Alliance in conjunction with Packaging World. Today, we're exploring the idea of corporate sustainability as it relates to logistics and shipping footprint. A logistics footprint refers to the size of the logistical support that a business requires to move its products to its customers.

This includes everything from people, transportation, fuel, warehouses, and equipment. Sustainable logistics involves emphasizing sustainability and a reduced environmental footprint when it comes to freight, logistics, and supply chain practices. A part of a company's overall sustainability profile is a healthy logistics footprint, which includes many factors, but the biggest is transportation.

Billions of tons of products and goods are transported by road, air, rail, or sea, which contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. The ever growing demands of the e commerce sector will only exacerbate this issue. To alleviate this problem. Many companies [00:01:00] are looking at designing their packages for optimum logistics.

This may mean creating a package that is lighter in weight to reduce freight weight, or creating a slimmer, compact package, or utilizing flexible films to be able to fit more product in each freight load, reducing the number of truck loads required. Packaging World Editor Matt Reynolds tells us more about sustainable logistics.

We've all had the e commerce experience of receiving a smaller item, like a toothbrush, in an unnecessarily large corrugated shipper, or receiving several items from a single order in multiple shippers. That's why CPGs and especially D2C brands, as well as 3PLs, fulfillment centers and distribution centers are investing in box right sizing equipment that scans a product's dimensions, then cuts and erects precisely sized, bespoke corrugated shippers from what amounts to roll stock of corrugated.

And for plural orders, say a toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss, these systems find the optimal dimensions to accommodate all three with the least amount of corrugated usage and dimensional weight. For the brand, that amounts to material input [00:02:00] and postage savings by dim weight, and it can also obviate dunnage and bracing while reducing the CO2 during shipping by occupying less footprint in a truck or a plane.

To further reduce emissions, some companies have begun to look at alternative fuel options, such as electric vehicles, hybrid, or hydrogen powered vehicles. And lastly, companies are looking at optimizing their shipping routes to reduce the distance traveled to minimize emissions. To do this, companies are looking into where their products are being manufactured and where raw materials are [00:03:00] being sourced.

For example, when using a co manufacturer, consider if they are located in areas where distribution is to shorten the transport distance. Also, consider where your manufacturing facility is in relation to warehousing and distribution. Consider how sourcing local would reduce travel time, cost, and distance.

When considering your logistical footprint, you can't forget reverse logistics. Some of your product is invariably going to come back to you, and some people intentionally order different sized or colored garments for the purposes of trying them on and shopping them, as if it were a retail setting. And some DTC brands build this home shopping behavior right into their models.

And for other products like personal care or food or beverage, there's breakage or leakage and all that results in make up orders. So there's a host of interesting reverse packaging logistics platforms and software out there that can help your brand fully account for reverse logistics as part of your overall logistical sustainability profile.

Consumer packaged goods companies and retailers globally have taken drastic steps to reduce their logistics [00:04:00] footprint and bolster sustainability. Focusing on reducing packaging weight during shipping and the materials used in secondary packaging, Amazon is delivering goods without any extra packaging according to a Wall Street Journal article.

The change falls in line with the company's goal to reduce costs. And reach its goals surrounding climate change plus the E-Commerce Giant hopes. This will appeal to customers who are put off by the volume of Amazon branded boxes they receive and discard every week. Mars recently published its net zero roadmap, which details steps the company will take in its efforts to cut its carbon emissions in half by 2030 and achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions across its full value chain by 2050.

To do this, Mars plans to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by changing how it powers its factories and offices and addressing energy used by farmers, how it sources ingredients, and the energy used by retailers. The brand giant also plans to optimize logistics by redesigning networks, the type of transport Mars relies on, and the energy sources used.

Focusing on reducing transportation based greenhouse gas [00:05:00] emissions, Tyson Foods is also taking action by partnering with Gatick AI, a leader in autonomous middle mile logistics. The two companies have entered into a multi year collaboration to deploy autonomous refrigerated box trucks in northwest Arkansas.

The trucks will operate on predetermined short haul repeated routes 18 hours a day to support product flow from a local plant to the company's distribution and storage facilities. One really interesting and disruptive last mile packaging project is being rolled out for ice cube making and ice cube packaging.

Retailer Southeastern Grocers is partnering with technology platform Turned Ice Maker and Packager, Relocalize, to automatically make and then automatically package ice on site at grocery stores with containerized ice making and packaging facilities. The potential logistical savings here is great. Read more about it in the October 2023 issue of Packaging World.

Reducing shipping and logistics footprint requires a focused approach to reduce climate change and improve corporate sustainability. According to Climate [00:06:00] Partner, there are five steps to a climate action strategy. The first is to measure your carbon footprint. Understanding the emissions of your company and its products is the first step to making a change.

The second is setting reduction targets to continually reduce emissions over time. Third, implement reductions by taking action. The fourth step is to finance climate projects to support global action. And fifthly, communicate transparency by sharing your climate action efforts to maximize the impact.

The importance of sustainability in reducing logistics footprint is only expected to grow in the coming years as e commerce continues to boom. As you work to understand and make changes to your shipping and logistics footprint, consider working with an expert to determine the best course of action for your company.

Thanks for watching, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos on sustainability, packaging, and scaling operations.

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