Transport packaging

Top tips to reduce transit packaging


Using a systematic approach is likely to be the most effective way of making your transit-packaging use more efficient.

1. Win support and the initial review

To ensure that your efforts are taken seriously, you need to convince senior management that your business would benefit from keeping packaging to a minimum.

You may want to carry out an initial review to gather evidence. You could do this, for example, by walking round your site to identify areas of waste and opportunities for improvement. You could estimate the savings associated with a few of the more promising improvements.

2. Appoint a co-ordinator

It is useful to have one overall project co-ordinator or 'champion' to lead the work, such as your logistics manager or environmental manager. You should also get the right people involved. This could include:

  • procurement and purchasing staff
  • environmental and waste-management staff
  • manufacturing and logistics managers
  • marketing and product-development staff
  • key external organisations such as packaging and material suppliers
  • customers

3. Gather information on packaging use and disposal

Gathering information can help you to identify areas of significant waste and comply with legislation. The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations require businesses to gather accurate data on the weight of packaging that they 'handle'. This means that you need to think about all the packaging associated with supply, including display, collation and transit packaging. You should also consider imported packaging for which you were the end-user.

4. Analyse data and identify areas for improvement

You should use key performance indicators (KPIs) to help you compare packaging use. KPIs for packaging management include:

  • packaging cost per item, eg pence/item or £/tonne
  • packaging waste per item, eg kilogram/item or kilogram/tonne

As well as analysing the data, it is useful to convert each waste quantity into a financial value that takes account of both material and disposal costs. This can help you to make the case for improvements.

5. Prioritise improvement options

Once you have identified where there may be scope for improvement, you should consider the options and rank them in order of priority. Think about each improvement option in terms of its cost to the business, its likely benefit or savings and the level of difficulty in implementing it.

Giving priority to the easier and low-cost measures will achieve quick results. This will help to motivate everyone concerned. However, longer term solutions may provide you with the highest overall cost savings.

6. Produce an action plan

Once you have considered the various options, you should prepare an action plan that describes what will be done, who will do it and when. Your plan should contain simple, measurable, achievable, realistic targets within appropriate timescales.

7. Implement the action plan

Implementation may involve all sorts of measures, from packaging redesign to introducing reusable systems.

It is important to get everyone involved in implementing the plan, from the managing director down to those, for example, who collect and separate packaging materials.

8. Review progress

Once the action plan is in place, you should review progress against targets regularly - perhaps every six months initially, and then on an annual basis.