Wednesday, 23 September 2020

A Articles

Packaged Waste from the Online Consumer

How much do you order online in any given week? Really, sit down and think about it. With COVID-19 knocking on your door, I bet it is more than ever before. My wife has been a fan of online ordering for years now. With both of us working full time jobs and having two children, it makes the most sense to order what we can online and have it sent directly to our front porch. Since March 2020, however, we are ordering even more than we used to. From toilet paper to Tide, from sunscreen to canned goods, from shoes to clothes, we now order almost all of our non-perishable goods online and have them shipped to us. A recent study found that 76% of US consumers are now shopping online compared to only 20% back in 2010. Manufacturing distribution centers and how they package goods need to evolve rapidly due to online consumption. Families across the United States have shifted to having products delivered to their home in lieu of traveling to a box retail store. The transition from box retail to home delivery is especially evident during the Covid-19 pandemic. People want even more packages home delivered on fears of having an increased risk of contracting the Covid-19 virus at a retail store. FedEx, UPS, and USPS forecast a 20% increase in online shipping of goods over the next three years. There is an increase in waste that correlates with the increase in demand of shipped packaged goods. Let’s find out more about the actions being taken by corporations and even consumers to reduce the waste from packaged shipments and the role packaged material waste plays on the environment.

First, what is the primary shipping method for the majority of packages sent from online retailers? What protects the products from damage that is inside the packages? Think about the last thing you ordered online. For me, it was two bottles of spray sunscreen from Amazon Prime for my kids to use around the pool. These two 5.0 oz. bottles were delivered in a box and the bottles were packaged with four sheets of protective bubble wrap. Everyday there are hundreds of thousands of shipments that are brought to doorsteps across the United States. The products that are shipped must be protected from the four major distribution hazards of shipping; environment, vibration, shock, and compression. The majority of online packages that are shipped directly to consumers arrive in a corrugated box.

The corrugated box is filled with protective packing such as packing peanuts, styrofoam cushion-boards, crinkled paper, or bubble wrap. These packing materials provide the product inside the box protection from the outside elements. A product in transit takes a beating on its way to a destination and needs space and packing inside the box to absorb the elements.

These packing materials are becoming extremely wasteful and heading to an environmental disaster as more products are now shipped from distribution centers instead of picked up from retail stores. It is estimated that over a 100 billion packages are shipped per year in the United States alone.

How can retailers and even consumers reduce the amount of packing material used in the shipping of goods? What are consumers doing with the packaging once they receive their shipments? I know that we just throw it away and I can tell from my neighbors’ trash cans that they are doing the same. There are ways to reduce packing. According to Amazon, who is the largest e-commerce retailer in the world, their website instructs consumers on how to request less packages, packing materials, and eliminate plastic when shipping orders. Within the Amazon website, people are instructed to email customer service and ask for the reduction in the amount of packaging used on their orders. Customer service will place a note in their file. Our family is an Amazon Prime member and we order products monthly from them. On their website, when you order several things, there is an option to receive your products as quickly as possible in as many shipments as it takes, or to choose to wait a few extra days and have everything shipped together. The process of waiting on other packages so Amazon may package more items in one box creates less waste by using less boxes and less packaging materials. Corporations are starting to become smarter with shipments as more consumers switch to online orders. Retailers reduce the number of packages and waste by increasing the number of products that are in one corrugated box. This reduces the amount of packing material and waste that is generated. It is also beneficial in terms of lowering shipping costs.

Corrugated boxes are known to be biodegradable. The majority of corrugated boxes are made from recycled paper. When a package arrives and the contents are taken out, the consumer can then break the box down and recycle it. However, very few US consumers take the time to recycle the boxes that they receive the goods in. It is estimated that a large majority of the plastic and cardboard from consumers will end up in our oceans.

That includes packing peanuts, plastic bags of air, and Styrofoam. This is a good opportunity for corporations to help educate the consumer and make it convenient to recycle. What if you were given an incentive for recycling the boxes or for choosing to have all of your goods sent on one day? I know my family would take part if we were to receive a discount or some sort of promotional pricing. This could also be true of city waste systems. If cities would offer a discount on the trash pickup for the household recyclables, then I think more and more people would make an effort to recycle.

In conclusion, think about all of the orders you have placed in the last month online and the packaging that you have received. What did you do with the boxes, the bubble wrap, the extra packaging? Think about the dumpsites that all this goes to and how full they are. What are ways that we can continue and move forward with recycling or using less wasteful ways to package items? With online shopping at an all-time high, the waste that consumers continue to use and throw away is just going to become more and more. How can we as consumers better the world and not waste as much? How can corporations give consumers incentive to do better and recycle or ask for less packaging? These are the things that need to be brought to the fore front of our mayors, governors, and leaders of America. There are things that corporations like Amazon and Walmart can do to ask consumers to do a better job of asking for less packaging. These are constructive ideas that we can build together in which we can build a less wasteful future. A study has shown that the online shopping we do will only go up by 2030, what are you doing about the problems that this causes?

References

Brophy, Meghan. (2019). 25 Online Shopping Statistics That You Should Know. Fit Small Business. Retrieved from: https://fitsmallbusiness.com/online-shopping-statistics/

Continelli, Aaron. (2017). How Consumers are Changing U. S. Manufacturing. Industrial Equipment News. Retrieved from: https://www.ien.com/supply-chain/blog/20974799/how-consumers-are-changing-us-manufacturing

How To Reduce Amazon Packaging and Live Frustation-Free. (2018). Retrieved from: https://www.cactiandcoconuts.green/blog/2018/9/30/how-to-reduce-amazon-packaging-how-to-reduce-amazon-packaging-and-live-frustration-free

Meyer, Susan. (2020). Understanding the COVID-19 Effect on Online Shopping Behavior. Retrieved from: https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/covid-19-ecommerce/

Rossier N., Robert (2017). In a Styrofoam Sea: Addressing the problem of Plastic Pollution in our Oceans. Retrieved from: https://dtmag.com/thelibrary/problem-plastic-pollution-oceans/

How much do you order online in any given week? Really, sit down and think about it. With COVID-19 knocking on your door, I bet it is more than ever before. My wife has been a fan of online ordering for years now. With both of us working full time jobs and having two children, it makes the most sense to order what we can online and have it sent directly to our front porch. Since March 2020, however, we are ordering even more than we used to. From toilet paper to Tide, from sunscreen to canned goods, from shoes to clothes, we now order almost all of our non-perishable goods online and have them shipped to us. A recent study found that 76% of US consumers are now shopping online compared to only 20% back in 2010. Manufacturing distribution centers and how they package goods need to evolve rapidly due to online consumption. Families across the United States have shifted to having products delivered to their home in lieu of traveling to a box retail store. The transition from box retail to home delivery is especially evident during the Covid-19 pandemic. People want even more packages home delivered on fears of having an increased risk of contracting the Covid-19 virus at a retail store. FedEx, UPS, and USPS forecast a 20% increase in online shipping of goods over the next three years. There is an increase in waste that correlates with the increase in demand of shipped packaged goods. Let’s find out more about the actions being taken by corporations and even consumers to reduce the waste from packaged shipments and the role packaged material waste plays on the environment.

First, what is the primary shipping method for the majority of packages sent from online retailers? What protects the products from damage that is inside the packages? Think about the last thing you ordered online. For me, it was two bottles of spray sunscreen from Amazon Prime for my kids to use around the pool. These two 5.0 oz. bottles were delivered in a box and the bottles were packaged with four sheets of protective bubble wrap. Everyday there are hundreds of thousands of shipments that are brought to doorsteps across the United States. The products that are shipped must be protected from the four major distribution hazards of shipping; environment, vibration, shock, and compression. The majority of online packages that are shipped directly to consumers arrive in a corrugated box.

The corrugated box is filled with protective packing such as packing peanuts, styrofoam cushion-boards, crinkled paper, or bubble wrap. These packing materials provide the product inside the box protection from the outside elements. A product in transit takes a beating on its way to a destination and needs space and packing inside the box to absorb the elements.

These packing materials are becoming extremely wasteful and heading to an environmental disaster as more products are now shipped from distribution centers instead of picked up from retail stores. It is estimated that over a 100 billion packages are shipped per year in the United States alone.

How can retailers and even consumers reduce the amount of packing material used in the shipping of goods? What are consumers doing with the packaging once they receive their shipments? I know that we just throw it away and I can tell from my neighbors’ trash cans that they are doing the same. There are ways to reduce packing. According to Amazon, who is the largest e-commerce retailer in the world, their website instructs consumers on how to request less packages, packing materials, and eliminate plastic when shipping orders. Within the Amazon website, people are instructed to email customer service and ask for the reduction in the amount of packaging used on their orders. Customer service will place a note in their file. Our family is an Amazon Prime member and we order products monthly from them. On their website, when you order several things, there is an option to receive your products as quickly as possible in as many shipments as it takes, or to choose to wait a few extra days and have everything shipped together. The process of waiting on other packages so Amazon may package more items in one box creates less waste by using less boxes and less packaging materials. Corporations are starting to become smarter with shipments as more consumers switch to online orders. Retailers reduce the number of packages and waste by increasing the number of products that are in one corrugated box. This reduces the amount of packing material and waste that is generated. It is also beneficial in terms of lowering shipping costs.

Corrugated boxes are known to be biodegradable. The majority of corrugated boxes are made from recycled paper. When a package arrives and the contents are taken out, the consumer can then break the box down and recycle it. However, very few US consumers take the time to recycle the boxes that they receive the goods in. It is estimated that a large majority of the plastic and cardboard from consumers will end up in our oceans.

That includes packing peanuts, plastic bags of air, and Styrofoam. This is a good opportunity for corporations to help educate the consumer and make it convenient to recycle. What if you were given an incentive for recycling the boxes or for choosing to have all of your goods sent on one day? I know my family would take part if we were to receive a discount or some sort of promotional pricing. This could also be true of city waste systems. If cities would offer a discount on the trash pickup for the household recyclables, then I think more and more people would make an effort to recycle.

In conclusion, think about all of the orders you have placed in the last month online and the packaging that you have received. What did you do with the boxes, the bubble wrap, the extra packaging? Think about the dumpsites that all this goes to and how full they are. What are ways that we can continue and move forward with recycling or using less wasteful ways to package items? With online shopping at an all-time high, the waste that consumers continue to use and throw away is just going to become more and more. How can we as consumers better the world and not waste as much? How can corporations give consumers incentive to do better and recycle or ask for less packaging? These are the things that need to be brought to the fore front of our mayors, governors, and leaders of America. There are things that corporations like Amazon and Walmart can do to ask consumers to do a better job of asking for less packaging. These are constructive ideas that we can build together in which we can build a less wasteful future. A study has shown that the online shopping we do will only go up by 2030, what are you doing about the problems that this causes?

References:

Brophy, Meghan. (2019). 25 Online Shopping Statistics That You Should Know. Fit Small Business. Retrieved from: https://fitsmallbusiness.com/online-shopping-statistics/

Continelli, Aaron. (2017). How Consumers are Changing U. S. Manufacturing. Industrial Equipment News. Retrieved from: https://www.ien.com/supply-chain/blog/20974799/how-consumers-are-changing-us-manufacturing

How To Reduce Amazon Packaging and Live Frustation-Free. (2018). Retrieved from: https://www.cactiandcoconuts.green/blog/2018/9/30/how-to-reduce-amazon-packaging-how-to-reduce-amazon-packaging-and-live-frustration-free

Meyer, Susan. (2020). Understanding the COVID-19 Effect on Online Shopping Behavior. Retrieved from: https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/covid-19-ecommerce/

Rossier N., Robert (2017). In a Styrofoam Sea: Addressing the problem of Plastic Pollution in our Oceans. Retrieved from: https://dtmag.com/thelibrary/problem-plastic-pollution-oceans/

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