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Sustainability is Finding Its Roots in the Shipping Industry

Many shippers these days are looking to use sustainable packing instead of the more commonly used fossil-fuel based materials. But there is no such thing as one universal material that will meet all sustainable requirements and the expectations of every shipper. Each material has its own properties and applications. Selecting from the wide-variety of sustainable materials requires the shipper to assess his needs and choose the sustainable material that will meet those needs. It’s all about trade-offs and determining what’s most important to the individual shipper.

Eco-friendly packaging materials can now be found in a variety of renewable resources and waste materials, including bamboo, mushrooms, coconut hulls, agriculture waste, industrial waste, post-consumer waste and sustainable wood products. Companies may assess the various packaging products made from these more eco-friendly products and chose what works best for them. However, this is not where the assessment of sustainability should end.

Other factors should also be examined to determine the level of a product’s sustainability. These factors can include the following:

• Where the product is sourced
• Supply chain length
• Whether the packaging be reused and/or recycled
• Whether it’s grown for packaging purposes or if it’s waste from another product
• What and how many resources are used to create the packaging material
• What are the waste products generated during its creation
• Resources and energy used to generate the product and transport it from supplier to the shipper
• Greenhouse gas emissions
• Social responsibility

Additionally, companies exploring more eco-friendly options should evaluate the packaging’s availability, performance and cost. If a product doesn’t meet the shipper’s expectations in these areas, sustainability most likely won’t be that important. A product’s true value is in its ability to get the job done at an affordable price. Because of the increasing demand for sustainable packaging products, more and more products are being developed. Many of these are high quality and are competitively priced, making them great alternatives to fossil-fuel based materials. Trucking companies in Los Angeles and other geographical areas can attest that sustainable packaging is just as effective as fossil-fuel based materials.

Companies can also be more sustainable by cutting down on the amount and size of packaging used. This will most likely make shipping costs a little less when shipped in TL or LTL trucking shipments. Companies may also consider using containers that are reusable instead of cardboard, which will cut down on waste.

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