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Two pairs of pants and 21 ft. of cushioning indict the supply chain’s green efforts

by Scott Wallask

February 28, 2011

By Scott Wallask, SAP Experts

I recently witnessed the latest anecdotal evidence that some of the supply chain is hesitant to embrace the green movement.

I had ordered two pairs of pants online, and they arrived on my doorstep in an 18 x 18 x 24-inch box. That’s a whole lot of box for shrink-wrapped pants, and since the clothing was about 2 inches thick, the vendor filled the rest of the void with 21 ft. of air-filled cushioning.

                           All of this for two pairs of pants

As I mentioned previously, the “Eighth Annual Global Survey of Supply Chain Progress” reported in late 2010 that respondents are skeptical about green SCM efforts. My personal experience reflects that stance.

There may very well be a good economical reason for shipping the pants in such a large box. Perhaps the vendor has a limited selection of box sizes for ease of packing. Maybe the transportation company offers a deal on certain sized parcels. It could be that all clothing goes into a predesignated box.

But at the end of the supply chain, all I know is I took that box and air cushioning and threw them in my recycling barrel.

I suppose whether you recycle a large box or a small one, it still ends up in the recycling stream, which is good news.

But from the vendor end, there’s no way you can argue that a box that size is environmentally friendly considering the product involved. Call it what you want, but to me it’s waste.

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Dave Hannon

9/25/2013 8:52:42 PM

Scott, good point here. In fact, I'd bet the amount of energy required to make the plastic packaging inside the box probably has the biggest carbon impact (plastic requires oil, natural gas, chemicals, machinery, shipping, etc.).

If it's the vendor I think it is, so much for "frustration free packaging" eh?

Davin Wilfrid

9/25/2013 8:52:42 PM

My guess is it has more to do with structural integrity and avoiding returns, which cost more in both real dollars and environmental impact.

In other words, the packaging is to keep you from looking like a fool with your pants on the ground.