Reduce spend, logistics and save the environment. Ensure Christmas 2020 is sustainable

Christmas 2020 is set to be one of the most unique festive periods on record. With the likelihood of people being able to mix with all their friends and family low, the chances of an increase in online deliveries are high. If your SME centres around e-commerce, read on to make simple changes that won’t cost the earth, literally.

It’s amazing to hear that people are still spending online, it boots trade right when we need it the most. But what are the side-effects of this?

Right first time

A report by Netdespatch in 2019 showed that costs associated with failed deliveries in the parcel industry sat at £1.6 billion. To put things into context when it comes to the environment, figures showed that in the same year, online retail giant Amazon emitted as much carbon dioxide as a small country. This fact is alarming when coupled together with the financial implications of no-show deliveries.

With so many deliveries set to be requested over Christmas, cutting down on failed first time delivery is one way in which companies can reduce their carbon footprint. Not only will this help cut down transport miles, but it will also help reduce packaging waste with items out for re-delivery may need to be re-packaged.

Where possible, forecast customer demand

Accurately forecasting your customers’ demands allows you to make decisions based on facts. Using reliable data to back up your inventory purchasing decisions will avoid surplus back-stock. This in turn will stop any unnecessary harm on environmental resources needed to maintain product quality.

With a better understanding of how much product you will need to fulfil customer demand, the resources spent on materials, space, and general overheads that have been saved can be allocated elsewhere. A smart and sustainable supply chain not just at Christmas but all year round is a clever way to reduce waste and improve efficiency.

Use recyclable packaging that the environment will love

With an influx of gifts being ordered and delivered by courier services comes the added use of emissions to drive lorries and vans. It means more packaging for items that normally would have been picked up in the shop, wrapped without the need for extra protection in the form of courier or retailer packaging.

Avoiding the use of non-recyclable plastics in the making of products or packaging is a good start when it comes to becoming more environmentally friendly over the festive period.

Packaging, including plastic, can often end up in landfill and in oceans and rivers. This is damaging to wildlife and the surrounding environment. So, introducing reusable packaging that cuts out the use of single-use plastic will benefit both your business, the customer and the global fight against waste. If in doubt, opting for recycled paper is a sound alternative to the use of plastic.

This method can also help to reduce the amount of product packaging, promote the use of renewable/reusable materials, cut back on packaging-related expenses, and eliminate the use of toxic materials.

Introduce an eco-friendly system that works for you and stick to it

I spoke to the team at Loadhog, an award winning returnable, recyclable packaging company based in Sheffield for their opinion on this. They said the following:

It may feel like the only way to become more sustainable is via the packaging you use to ship items worldwide. But much like the man in the red suit spends all night transporting gifts to homes, courier drivers spend weeks, if not months, going back and forward picking up items and dropping them off on doorsteps.

‘This leads to the production of carbon emissions at levels that’s not in keeping with the 2050 UK target of net-zero. Not only does it mean more trips to deliver goods, but it also means more travelling to take items from production lines to high street stores.

‘Using a returnable transit packaging product – such as a plastic pallet where vehicle fill can increase by 40 per cent – is a great way to be more efficient and more  sustainable.’

Of course, once these systems for sustainable deliveries and shipping have been put in place for Christmas 2020 they might as well stay in place for a more sustainable 2021. 

Cherry Martin

Cherry Martin

Cherry is Associate Editor of Business Matters with responsibility for planning and writing future features, interviews and more in-depth pieces for what is now the UK’s largest print and online source of current business news.

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