| Uta Knapp |
COLOGNE (dpa) – The growth of online shopping has led to an explosion in carton use. In many cases, the large packages pouring out of Europe and North America’s fulfilment centres in fact contain only small items.
Germans, keen consumers as they are, have an especially instinctive distaste for putting tiny things in big boxes. The German language even has a word for it, Mogelpackung, a pejorative term that means “deceptive packaging”.
While the problem of packaging waste is being acknowledged, experts believe the amount of cardboard boxes in use will continue to grow.
Michael Boehmer is a researcher at the Frauenhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics in Dortmund, Germany. He says logistics companies are not concerned that online shopping portals are using boxes too large for the articles they contain.
Efficient stacking during transport is of more importance if you’re a trucker, according to Boehmer.
Another factor is cost. Ingmar Boeckmann is a logistics expert at the German e-Commerce and Distance Selling Trade Association.
According to Boeckmann using a single size of box is cheaper for the shopping portals to buy in bulk and saves money by needing only one type of packaging machine.
“It’s more cost-effective to send air rather than reduce the size of the box to match the contents,” he explains.
Estimates suggest that overall, online shopping packages are only half full. One study even discovered packages whose volume was filled to a mere 20 per cent. In extreme cases, such as the transport of replacement parts, just five per cent of the packages’ volume was filled.
For the company sending the package, that means extra costs are incurred to buy spacing material used to fill the rest of the box. Boehmer says some companies use cheap crumpled paper but others fill the boxes with high-quality foam chips.