Lifting the lid on packaging waste

Monday, 03 September 2018

You remember Deal or No Deal right? Each box contained a cash figure – all the contestant had to do was find the box with the highest amount inside and the cash was theirs.

What does this have to do with packaging waste you ask? Well, businesses should know the boxed cost of packed goods e.g. the cost to ship, the cost of the box or container, the cost of labour and the cost of the protective material inside. If you know all this, you can calculate and understand the cost of waste in the packing department.

Take a good look inside the box

At Pregis, we’re in and out of factories and distribution centres all day long, so it’s easy for us to spot waste and see where savings and improvements can be made on the despatch line. Sometimes it’s really obvious to us, particularly when it comes to inefficient packing environments and over-packing, which can easily be resolved with guidance and training. 

So, as we’re proud packing and packaging guru’s, we’ve put together a few insightful ideas that can help you reduce your in-the-box packaging costs, improve your efficiency and drive down waste in your business.

Review your packing medium

Plastic air bags, bubble wrap and polystyrene chips are favoured by many businesses when it comes to protective packaging because they’re seen as quick, cheap and reliable. There are however more environmentally friendly alternatives such as recycled paper, which is just as cost effective and reliable, and actually uses less packaging in the box, regardless of product size or weight. It’s worth trialling these alternatives in order to see for yourself their versatility, strength, efficiency and ease of use.

You don’t need to fill the whole box

Over-packing, particularly on fast-moving despatch lines or when packing awkward shaped goods, can lead to unnecessary waste. Yes, securing items well is the priority, but why fill every corner with polystyrene chips when one coil of paper can support the product, preventing movement inside the box during transit.  Heavy engineered goods are often foam-filled inside the box but again, two or three coils of robust paper will secure goods firmly and make for easy unpacking at its destination.

Train staff to pack correctly

One of the quickest ways to improve efficiency and reduce waste is through staff training. Whilst you might argue ‘how hard is it to pack a box?’, we would say why not show people how to pack a box in half the time with half the packaging? Not only will proper staff training save you money, you will also improve their efficiency, well-being and safety.

Update your packing set up

This probably sounds like a headache, but reviewing the layout and functionality of your packing area can transform production and output.  By adopting an efficient workstation that puts all packing mediums and accessories at your fingertips, you will free up wasted space, improve overall efficiency and improve the comfort and well-being of staff.

Impress the banker and collect your reward!

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle is on everyone’s lips, so smart businesses must look at new ways to reduce waste and invest in the future. By making some relatively small changes, businesses can eliminate packaging waste, improve overall efficiency, improve brand perception, and ultimately benefit from a cash return.

There’s a long way to go before we live in a waste free world and, with plastic packaging becoming about as anti-social as smoking, businesses need to be on their ‘A’ game when it comes to protecting the environment. Cutting packaging waste may be one small step, but it’s one that can help your business gain long-term reward.

If you would like advice on how to reduce in-the-box costs, reduce waste, modify your packing set up or training for your packing operatives, call us on 01438 740649 or visit

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