Best Buy’s regional distribution center in Calif. and new e-commerce building in N.J. installed machinery that’s helping the company reduce cardboard waste by 40 percent, reports the Star Tribune.
The idea to install this new technology, a machine by CMC Machinery that builds custom-sized, ready to ship boxes, came from the increase of online sales and shipped boxes, and the decrease in recycling options from consumers. “Global package shipping volume has risen 48 percent over the past years, according to the technology company Pitney Bowes,” the Star Tribune says.
The custom-built boxes are more for smaller products, including headphones, printers, iPad cases, and “anything less than 31 inches wide.” Aside from a smaller size, the boxes aren’t filled with bubble wrap or extra padding, or enable room for extra air space. “Most people are shipping 40 percent air,” Rob Bass, head of Best Buy’s supply chain operations, told the Star Tribune. “It’s horrible for the environment, it fills up trucks and airplanes in useless fashion. With this, we have zero wasted space; no air pillows.”
Here’s how the box-building process works:
- Sheets of cardboard are inserted into the system
- Products meant to be shipped slide down a conveyor belt and are measured by a sensor
- A packing slip is added
- The cardboard is folded around the product and packing slip
- The box is fastened with (glue instead of tape)
- A perforated edge is created on the box to make it easier for customers to open
“There are times you have a box that’s 10 times the size of actual product. Now we no longer have that,” Jordan Lewis, director of Best Buy’s distribution, said during a recent tour.
Best Buy’s investment in this tech is paying off – literally. The Star Tribune says that the company’s revenue has doubled in the past five years, and, last year, its digital sales reached $6.45 billion.
The smaller boxes are also helping Best Buy free up floor space and manpower for better uses. For example, “it…allows Best Buy warehouse workers to “cube out” the UPS trucks with more boxes, which creates a host of additional savings,” the Star Tribune says.
Finally, the tech is giving the company a leg up on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. “Best Buy, like almost every large corporation, has a sustainability plan to cut its carbon footprint,” the Star Tribune says.