Corporate America is going green and it's already having an effect on environmentally sustainable business practices. Those efforts are being passed along to the general consumer with the development of technologies such as hydrogen fuel vehicles, the increased interest in large-scale recycling and the mainstream growth of "green" buildings.
Now Corporate America's green ways are reaching all the way into the supply chain.
Pelican Products, which manufactures Protector Cases, said it is seeking to make the traditional supply chain process greener by changing the way electronics and sensitive equipment is shipped. They are doing this by providing companies like Apple and Gateway with Repeat Use Packaging — a shipping solution that has less impact on the environment while saving money and better protecting merchandise.
Product shipping materials contribute a significant portion of packaging waste globally each year. In the United States alone, corrugated fiberboard — the most prevalent packaging material — makes up more than 24 million tons of waste. According to a study done by the University of Nevada, much of the $15 billion worth of fiberboard sold in the United States is used in shipping, which has become a multi-billion dollar industry. For some companies, the internal shipping process alone — returning items to stock and shipping returned products — can amount to a million-dollar process with far-reaching impacts.
A recent study showed that five pounds of waste was generated by 250 shipments inside a repeat use Pelican Protector Case (two cubic feet). This was in contrast to the 375 pounds of waste generated by the equivalent amount of cardboard boxes necessary for the same number of shipments.
"Shipping is a billion-dollar industry that is having a greater impact on the environment each year," said Pelican CEO Lyndon Faulkner. "Our company's expertise in the development of high-quality, durable cases gives us the opportunity to provide companies with permanent shipping solutions and numerous benefits over traditional expendable cardboard containers."
Pelican said this niche is of particular importance for the technology industry, as items like computer equipment are packaged in materials that typically cannot be reused, separated, or recycled. Multiple-material packaging impedes recycling and some materials, such as polystyrene, are generally made without recycled content and may be non-recyclable. As a result, disposal of this packaging is costly and further taxes the landfill system, according to Pelican.
In 2006, Pelican Products was able to develop shipping solutions for Fortune 500 technology manufacturers that suffered from many of their returns sustaining damages in-transit, resulting in increased repair costs and down time. Pelican provided them with customized repeat use packaging solutions that better protected product and was reusable for a nearly endless amount of trips, eliminating the cost associated with replacing expensive short-term shipping materials.