To give the headline context, here's Haworth's Profile
The market Haworth, Inc, a Michigan-based distributor of commercial "workspace solutions", covers is diverse, including walls, floors utilities, systems, seating, lighting, desks/casegoods, storage, and tables. They boast a LEED Gold Chicago Merc showroom, have published goals and metrics for improving, and offer a 2007 pdf report on Sustainability
What is business like without cardboard?
Haworth recently finished a 2-month test of shipping chairs and tables wrapped in protective blankets instead of cardboard containers. By using 'straps, bars and plywood tiers, the company fit an average of about 65 percent more products into its trailers, reducing the number of loads needed and eliminating cardboard waste.' The packaging apparatus is re-usable of course.
Probably means more labor by dock workers and customers you say? Sure but there are economic advantages for supplier and customer. Haworth does not need to pay for and build space to store cardboard; and "customers said they appreciated avoiding the labor of unpacking boxes and disposing of cardboard waste." Hint for the Michigan forest products industry:
re-usable corrugated and solid wood pads.
Haworth collaborated with their shipper, Perkins Logistics L.L.C, to conduct the tests. Here's Perkin's view of the results:
Gregory Maiers, chief operating officer of Perkins Logistics, said the specialized packing method adds about 15 percent to the cost of a shipment due to the need for additional labor and reusable equipment, but the premium is more than offset by an average 65 percent increase in the number of items shipped per load and savings by the manufacturers from the elimination of cardboard boxes and other packing materials and the labor used to containerize products.Life cycle inventory calculations during the tests were performed by Allegiant Global, which reported these interesting anecdotal findings:
Because it was able to pack more pieces per truckload using the Perkins method, the company eliminated the need to make 11 truckload shipments during the study that would have emitted more than 27 metric tons of carbon dioxide from burnt diesel fuel alone... Using calculations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that state box manufacturers emit 1.52 metric tons of carbon dioxide for every 2,000 pounds of containers they produce, Swift estimated that Perkins saved an additional 7.8 metric tons by using reusable blankets.
The more distant the market served, the greater the outgoing fuel-related savings, of course. Incoming or 'reverse logistical' savings would be more problematic. In an ideal world, reclaimed furniture would be reverse-shipped to the Mid-West for refurbishment.
When this writer was a kid, way back in the 1950's, this is how a lot of stuff was shipped. Funny, how expensive oil and fewer Boreal-Forest acres to clip make the old fashioned ways look better. Back to a greener future.
One more thing and it's a zinger. This won't work for maritime shipping (cargo containers are anonymous), which means that Chinese makers will never have this advantage. Which means...we have here the makings of a strategic business advantage - it would be close to net 20% added to the collective bottom line for the distributor/shipper - for home sourced products.
Via:Indianapolis Business News, Study by Haworth Inc. and Perkins Logistics Says Companies Can Reduce Carbon Emissions from Truck Shipments by 20 Percent With Green Packing Methods
Image credit:Haworth, Vancouver Wood line