Global Shipping Getting Greener

In a recent announcement by FedEx, the global shipping provider is boosting ground shipment charges by introducing dimensional pricing to any and every box you ship. Effective January 2015, the overall shipping changes are expected to increase prices by 30-50%. The price hikes will affect everyone from those of us sending single packages to e-commerce giants and international manufacturers; and although these hikes may appear onerous, FedEx may actually be lighting a bigger fire under the fashion and apparel industry to adopt better tactics for a greener supply chain. Global shipping, be it by land, air, or sea, will always require fuel – there’s no way of escaping it (at least, for now). However, these new dimensional shipping rates should make shippers of all sizes reconsider their packaging methods, which can vary from inadequate to excessive, depending on the company. Fashion and apparel brands and manufacturers must begin working together in order to ameliorate this shipping conundrum, and can use this increase in shipping costs as an opportunity to inject some more ‘green’ into their supply chains.
“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”
E-commerce shippers who have valued fancy packing for their customers as a source of customer satisfaction and loyalty are, in many ways, some of the biggest offenders of wasteful packaging. There are some retailers who have ‘hit the bow on the package,’ so to speak, by striking an appealing balance between fancy and minimal packaging, shipping the goods safely and intact without the extra wasteful materials. Some retailers have taken an even bigger green approach, offering programs such as A Box Life, which promotes packaging recycling which e-commerce customers can see where the box came from, how many times it has been used, and how they can reuse it as well.
As for our international, large quantity shippers, the task is not as simple as shrinking the size of a box, as the size must accommodate the order. However, often times, shipping boxes arrive in DC not at full capacity, each item wrapped individually, then together as a prepack; and, finally, all boxes shrink wrapped together for shipping. These single use materials cause excessive waste – not to mention the wasted capital on such materials – which can easily be curbed by investing in reusable shipping materials. Products such as reusable plastic shipping crates and garment bags will ensure the garments are safe from outside harm, while the crates can often times carry more than flimsy cardboard boxes, and negate the need for supplemental shrink wrapping or extra protective materials.
Greener tactics across the fashion and apparel industry have been on the rise, as with fuel and shipping prices; it has become the responsibility of everyone involved in the global apparel supply chain to do their part to make fashion greener. Upfront costs for supporting these types of shipping and handling materials may appear to be high; however the ROI is something that must be taken into stern consideration for fashion and apparel brands trying to improve their supply chains.