We get this question a tonne, and rightly so. Sustainable fulfilment is the amalgamation of sustainable packaging and sustainable delivery. In this blog post, we attempt to define each and provide some much-needed clarity on the matter.
There is no standard definition of ‘sustainable packaging’ which makes it somewhat of a moving target. But the bottom line is actually quite simple - a high-quality sustainable alternative which meets the needs, and achieves the same performance, of traditional packaging, but in a way which is kinder to the environment.
Sustainable packaging must be minimizing & maximising
- It must minimize waste during production, use and disposal including space in delivery vehicles,
- It must maximize the use of materials with a small carbon footprint. Bio-based versus petroleum-based, created from renewable resources versus created from fossil-fuels.
It must do all this while still protecting the product inside and while acting as an all-important branding vessel.
Sustainable delivery is the efficient transportation of goods from A to B in ways which minimize delivery miles and time on the road.
- Sustainable delivery avoids traffic as much as possible by delivering during the time of day when traffic is minimal.
- Instead of delivering one parcel at a time, sustainable delivery makes use of parcel aggregation where parcels destined for the same suburb or area are sorted and then delivered by one vehicle, in one trip.
- In line with this, routes which are pre-planned ensure no unnecessary kilometres are travelled.
- Newer vehicles with efficient turbochargers, hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles are far better than older, fuel heavy cars. Thus when assessing sustainable delivery, the age and vehicle type are important to consider.
- When efficiency gains have been reached, those companies which truly embrace sustainable delivery choose to offset when they can't reduce.
A note on 'Same-Day Delivery'
Consumer need for instant gratification is one of the leading causes of the unsustainable businesses practices many eCommerce firms adopt. Following the mantra that 'the customer is always right', eCommerce companies are falling over themselves trying to deliver goods to their customers in the shortest possible time. Unfortunately, this leads to increasingly inefficient delivery models.
Same-Day Delivery has none of the minimizing attributes of sustainable delivery practices and is thus incredibly damaging to the planet and society. Most orders placed with Same-Day Delivery are delivered individually i.e. one vehicle, making one return trip, for one parcel. The carbon footprint of that single parcel is thus magnitudes higher than parcels delivered efficiently.
What can you do?
- Offer sustainable packaging at checkout. We created Mielie Mailer for this very purpose.
- Don't offer Same-Day Delivery at checkout
- Do your homework and choose delivery companies which practice sustainability, by using efficient vehicles, advanced parcel aggregation systems and efficient route planning.
- Where you can't reduce, offset. We created Mielie Mailer for this very purpose, too.
- Don't select Same-Day Delivery at checkout
- Where possible, choose to pick-up your parcel at a collection point
- Send your favourite brand or store an email asking them to adopt sustainable packaging practices. Link us in (firstname.lastname@example.org), we will do the heavy lifting for you.