Most Popular in:

Supply Chain

Email This Item! Print This Item!

Packaging—More Than Aesthetics

By: Elizabeth Abrams
Posted: November 9, 2009, from the November 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 2 of 5

Begin by reviewing your product’s attributes: Is it temperature or humidity sensitive? Does it tend to absorb the scents of other products near it or leak its scent during extended warehousing periods? Is there a history of weight distribution issues during shipping? Is the product delicate and need several levels of packaging (both inner and outer packs)? The answers will help determine where you should go next—begin by finding the ideal durable and lightweight material to handle your product’s transportation voyage. Make sure to involve someone from the product’s entire life cycle in this process, from production and packaging to transportation and sales. Next, review outer packaging. Products could very well be shipping in ca

rdboard boxes—a damage prone and unstable method, but time-tested and comfortable. Consider the back-end costs the company incurs for waste disposal. Review sturdier options such as reusable totes, cartons and bins. They last longer, provide greater protection against damages and eliminate the problem of constant waste and, in turn, waste regulation compliance.

On to inner packs—the all-important packaging that serves the dual purpose of maintaining product integrity and enticing the consumer. Review the latest trend: cradle-to-cradle packaging. This concept, which originated with architect William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart, literally eliminates the idea of packaging waste because it is either fully recyclable without any loss in material performance or it is biodegradable. Think about whether using 100% postconsumer recycled plastic is possible for your product. Ask your researchers if it’s possible to apply inks that, when washed out, leave pure reusable white paper or if your product could remain fresh in a fully biodegradable PET package.

Revamping Not a Fit? Try Reducing Instead

After consulting with your team, you might find that undergoing a complete overhaul of your product’s packaging is too expensive, or that such a dramatic alteration would risk losing your brand identity and customer base. Don’t worry. There is still plenty you can do to ensure a reduction in transportation costs. Rather than focusing on the type of material, focus on the amount. According to the GMA 2008 Global Logistics Survey, cost per hundred weight increased $1.63 between 2005 and 2008. This rise can be combated with a review of current case and pallet density. Is it possible to reduce the amount of inner or outer packaging you use in an effort to eliminate the shipment of air? The more you can pack onto a pallet and the lighter your goods are during shipping, the smaller your carbon footprint becomes.

If transportation accounts for between 30% and 50% of a product’s shelf price, then the fewer trucks shipping product, the better. Consider, for example, if it is really necessary to use an outer pack and a cardboard inner pack for an eye shadow palette that comes wrapped in a plastic shrink sleeve? How helpful is that extra two inches of plastic between the edge of the packaging and that blush brush? Consult the experts: review methods endorsed by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, ask providers how they suggest increasing density. Improving pack-out can go a long way toward cutting logistics costs, and there are a myriad of options available to make certain your claims rate doesn’t increase as a result.