Consumers question environmental impact of home delivery parcels, study finds

Excessive packaging under scrutiny

Excessive packaging under scrutiny

Smart packaging is set to become the next hot topic of debate within the home delivery supply chain as consumers are starting to question the environmental impact of excessive packaging on the parcels they receive, according to Gary Winter, sales director at delivery specialist, Hermes UK.

Research commissioned by Hermes found 67% of the 2,000 consumers questioned had received a parcel from a retailer that had packaging they considered to be wasteful and excessive. Nearly a third of respondents said that it would make them less likely to shop with that retailer again.

“This research shows that the use of inappropriate packaging is having an adverse affect on the overall shopping experience and is something that will need to be addressed. Not only are consumers becoming unhappy about the levels of waste, but also having the added hassle of disposing of the packaging as well, which can also include a box full of shredded paper or bubble wrap,” said Winter.

“Probably one of the worst packaging examples I have heard about in recent times was a cardboard box measuring more three feet long, two feet wide and two feet deep arriving with a single umbrella in it. This same item could have been delivered quite safely in much more appropriate packaging, but instead it was sent in a box that could have contained 20 umbrellas.”

Seventy per cent of respondents felt retailers should be doing more to minimise the environmental impact of home delivery and over three quarters struggled to name a single retailer that they believed was doing a good job in this area, researchers found.

“There is currently a wide variety of methods to package and present parcels in the marketplace, and whilst some retailers are becoming more proficient at sending lean, robust and appealing parcels, there is still a long way to go for many to address low fill rates and inappropriate packaging that is either oversized or simply not fit for purpose. The environmental impact is a key consideration, not only as the consumer becomes increasingly eco aware but as retailers implement strict CSR strategies. 

“From our own experience, the difference between well and poorly packaged parcels can affect the trailer volumes by up to and even beyond 300 per cent, so any improvement can make a massive contribution to reducing an organisation’s carbon footprint as well as costs. It is worth bearing in mind that any increase in volumes per trailer will enhance fleet utilisation and result in an immediate reduction in the number of vehicles on the road, slashing CO2 emissions,” said Winter.