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Packaging waste is often seen by customers as a major issue for the retail industry. You should use packaging as efficiently as possible by balancing its use against the need to prevent product wastage. You should also start to think differently about how your products can be delivered and used by customers, eg reusable delivery packaging, product refills, self-dispensing and concentrates.

The most cost-effective and environmentally-friendly way to deal with packaging waste is to avoid producing the waste in the first place. If you can’t completely eliminate the waste, you should reduce the amount you produce as much as possible, use packaging with recycled content and design packaging so that it can be recycled and reused.

Rising landfill costs mean that it’s increasingly important for your business to find other ways to deal with the waste you do produce. You should consider options such as reusing, recycling, composting and energy-from-waste.

Practical tips to reduce retail packaging waste:

Your business can reduce packaging waste by:

  • analyzing sales patterns to avoid over-ordering
  • using just-in-time delivery systems to ensure you only store the minimum amount of stock
  • drawing up a returns policy for unsold and damaged goods
  • sending unused display materials to your head office – if you have one – for recycling
  • separating your packaging waste to help with recycling
  • returning used clothes hangers to the supplier for recycling and potential reimbursement
  • using plastic crates or totes instead of single-use cardboard boxes
  • investigating how your business could use waste exchange schemes
  • using self-stacking boxes or crates instead of shrink-wrap
  • involving your staff and making them more aware of your business’ waste policy and procedures
  • training staff to open packaging carefully and avoid contamination in order to allow reuse
  • ensuring cardboard and plastic sheeting are flattened and baled before being recycled
  • considering shredding paper and card to produce packing or fillers
  • comparing the cost and services provided by waste contractors

You should work with your suppliers to use packaging as efficiently as possible.

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