Pulp Magic

DECEMBER 24, 2014

Have Yourself an Environmentally-Friendly Christmas

Each year, between the end of November and late December, the tide of packages delivered by FedEx, UPS and the post office turns into a tsunami.   These three shippers will handle more than a billion packages from Black Friday until Christmas this year.  Most if not all of those one billion packages are packed in some sort of corrugated packaging or “cardboard boxes” to the average consumer.

(To give you an idea of just how enormous one billion of anything is, keep in mind that a billion seconds ago it was 1982.)

The numbers of delivered packages are growing each year by double digits driven in large part by the growth of online shopping.  For some this is cause for concern.  Surely all that packaging and all those delivery trucks are damaging the planet?

But that’s not the case.

While some critics have claimed that online retailing is environmentally unfriendly the truth is that eCommerce is surprisingly green. According to the International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management,  you’d have to buy 24 items in a brick and mortar store to make the trip to the store by car equal to the carbon footprint of just one item ordered online. If you took the bus, you’d have to buy eight.

And the further away from the store the more your carbon footprint increases.  Store shoppers who travel more than 60 miles to buy something boost their CO2 emissions from 73 grams per purchase to more than 450 grams of CO2 per purchase.

Just as important, a large number of these boxes are made from recycled materials and the vast majority will be recycled again!

So here’s a little holiday cheer for those of us in the paper and packaging industry.  Digital commerce is driving an enormous expansion of packaged goods deliveries and together — digital and paper — are doing its part to leave a lighter footprint.

On that cheerful note, I wish you and your families’ happy holidays and I look forward to continuing our conversation in the new year.