5 Step Guide to Reducing Packaging Costs

Reducing packaging is not only better for the environment, it can be a great way to significantly reduce operating costs. The computer giant Dell was reported to have saved around US$8 million over four years by simply redesigning packaging for its PCs. In this article, we look at some of the best ways to reduce packaging for your products.

Packaging Categories

There are three key types of packaging:

  • Tertiary packaging – usually the level of packaging that allows a product to be securely transported in bulk and stored. An example would be the pallets and pallet wraps that allow the product to be stored on pallet racking.
  • Secondary packaging – with secondary packaging, the product can be easily grouped until its sold.
  • Primary packaging – packaging that’s used at the point of sale and as the product is consumed. An example would be the tissue box for a tissue.

  1. Enhancing Packaging Design
  2. Packaging should serve a clear purpose, whether it’s for containment on shelving systems, handling, protection, or identification. If it doesn’t serve an essential purpose, consider removing that layer of packaging.

    Rethinking packaging design can encompass different areas of the handling and distribution process. It can include the following:

    • Removing excessive layers, such as boxes within boxes or bags within bags.
    • Reducing the use of adhesives, which can reduce costs and enhance how recyclable it is.
    • Eliminating extra tertiary layers of packaging or changing these to reusable containers rather than disposable cartons.
    • Replacing stick-on labelling with direct printing.
  3. Light-weighting
  4. Light-weighting is one of the most popular strategies for redesigning packaging for weight reduction. The aim is to retain the same level of utility while reducing weight. Successful light-weighting reduces transport costs and packaging costs.

    Although the best way to go about light-weighting will vary from product to product and the process can be quite technical, some ways light-weighting can be achieved include:

    • Opting for better and lighter materials.
    • Reducing the thickness of materials, such as boxes and bags.
    • Using strong fitted bags over heavy cardboard boxes.
    • Designing for maximum space efficiency and weight.
  5. Reconfiguring Packing Operations
  6. Packing lines can be entirely manual or mechanical, or they can be a mix of machines and manual effort. Reconfiguring poorly designed packing operations eliminates weak points that may be wasting packaging or even causing product damage.

    Some ways to improve packing operations include:

    • Adjusting packaging speed to reduce the occurrence of repackaging;
    • Upgrading machinery or training staff for better performance; and
    • Integrating machinery with business IT systems for better monitoring and adjustments.
  7. Consider Bulk Delivery
  8. While bulk delivery practices are not appropriate for many industries, some businesses have successfully made use of bulk delivery as part of a strategy for reducing packaging costs. Some examples include intermediate bulk containers (many of which are designed to fit on standard sized pallets) and direct tanker delivery to the point of sales.

  9. Re-thinking Handling and Distribution
  10. Handling and distribution procedures can also be enhanced to reduce packaging waste. For example, businesses can reduce the need for packaging by checking for damage at the point of delivery, incorporating better storage and shelving solutions, and introducing better loading and dispatch procedures to reduce product damage, all of which can cut out one or even two layers of tertiary or secondary packaging.

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