In today’s society, online shopping has become an essential method in how millions of consumers source the products they need in their day-to-day lives. Along with shopping from home and the comfort and convenience that it brings we also get an enormous amount of wrapping and packing materials as a by-product of e-commerce. However, I believe there are ways to optimize packing and shipping methods along with package recycling in order to create greener shipping methods. For Instance, companies can avoid using an unnecessarily big box to ship a small item. Packing material manufacturing companies can create flexible and versatile packing materials such as boxes and bags that can be bought in a wide variety of shapes and sizes to help accommodate a wider array of items that are shipped in them. They can create options for a company to have a box created for a specific product that can be shipped in a specific box every time to limit the quantity of materials used to ship it. For example, if a company specializes in manufacturing replacement transmissions for cars and trucks, the company would benefit from purchasing made-to-fit boxes that sustain the weight and shape of transmission to ship it to the customer by allowing them to ship their product in a box designed for their product that will limit damage and eliminate wasteful boxes from being used. In turn, this will benefit the environment by optimizing the resources we have and how they are used. Another initiative that can be taken by shipping companies, in particular, is to create a system where old used boxes can be returned to the companies that ship items out via the delivery trucks that already visit consumers every day. This will save more boxes and packing materials from ending up in landfills. An alternative to this idea is to have the boxes returned to the companies via the recycling service offered in a town. Of course, this service would be limited to places that have a recycling system readily available but this would play a role in saving time and energy required to recycle cardboard and plastic because a lot of it used in boxes and bags can simply be re-used without being recycled first. A third alternative is one that would encourage people thru something everyone values: money. If recycling companies offer cash compensation for individuals to recycle their cardboard, glass and plastic many more people would make the effort to recycle to make extra money. This can be done by visiting each address in the same fashion as a trash collection truck does whether it be a home or business and collecting and measuring the quantity of recyclables received. After doing so the company can then issue a payment to the owner of the home or business. Recycling companies profit from recycling people’s trash and they can turn around and split that payment with the people who source them with trash to recycle in order to encourage them to recycle more.

Essay by: Giancarlo Benedetto
Dr. Camille Casteel High School

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