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What’s in a box: Creating more responsible Holidays!

Alexander Gershenson

December 22, 2017

What’s in a box:

Creating more responsible Holidays!

Nothing says the Holidays like gift-laden delivery trucks rushing to fill all of our last minute orders. And with every delivery comes a box, or two, or three, all of which arrive on our doorsteps out of a diverse and complicated paper and packaging supply chain. Many online businesses are working to innovate their packaging solutions to reduce paper waste this time of year, but supply chain data has a big role to play in creating more responsible holidays going forward.

Examining the packaging supply chain is a key priority for SupplyShift customers, and a critical component of responsible supply chains. Keeping track of packaging has never been more important. Online shopping officially eclipsed brick and mortar as the most popular form of shopping for the 2017 Holiday season. Last season, before this shift took place, Amazon alone shipped over a billion items. This means we should expect a deluge of cardboard flowing to and from factories, fulfillment centers, homes, and recycling facilities.

The good news is that overall paper and packaging supply is increasingly coming from responsible sources. The main drivers are cross-industry collaboration to achieve sustainable packaging goals, recycling, and a greater consumer awareness/demand for corporations to meet sustainability commitments. Customer feedback is also driving a huge shift to sustainable packaging innovation at companies like Amazon. Many companies are reducing the overall amount of packaging used while closely monitoring the materials that go into production. In addition, they are making public commitments to ensure deforestation-free and responsible paper and pulp supply chains.  

These companies realize that utilizing the right transparency and traceability technology is critical. Without the ability to effectively trace and record the certifiability of paper material through every tier of the paper supply chain, they cannot fulfill their commitments. Company initiatives encourage better sourcing practices, which drives a shift away from deforestation toward more responsible Holiday packaging, and beyond.

SupplyShift innovation

Here at SupplyShift, we are excited to see a rise in efforts to track all things packaging – sourcing, facility certifications, energy consumption, and emissions, even measuring the social and ethical policies of suppliers. The number of projects assessing paper and packaging content has more than doubled in 2017, and the network of suppliers keeps growing stronger. Data for many of the biggest packaging manufacturers in the world are being collected on our platform, and close to 70% of global spend on paper and packaging is now represented on SupplyShift.

SupplyShift has enabled a number of tech, retail, and consumer products companies to enter the New Year with their 2017 packaging assessments, risk ratings, and supply chain traceability maps fully completed. This affords them time to engage with their supply chain partners, work on areas of improvement, and ensure that next year’s packaging contributes to a responsible Holiday season. The web of paper and packaging suppliers is complex and challenging to tackle, but seeing all of the effort (and the data streaming in) is an inspiring indication of progress.

Organizations have a clear incentive to reduce and optimize their use of packaging materials, since it directly cuts costs and drives brand value. As companies ensure that the materials for packaging are sourced more responsibly, SupplyShift is confident that the way we package the Holidays will have an even smaller impact in the future.

Learn more about SupplyShift Paper and Packaging initiatives here.

Alexander Gershenson

December 22, 2017

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