There's a delicate balance between protecting goods and protecting the environment when shipping products around the world, UPS has found.
GreenBiz checked in this week with Arnold Barlow, UPS senior manager for sustainable solutions at the Sustainable Brands Conference in San Diego for an update and a look inside the carrier's Eco Responsible Packaging design lab.
"Any time you introduce a new product, there's an educational process, but we've seen some success," Barlow said.
When the UPS first launched its green packaging standards two years ago, the company heralded it as the first of its kind. Companies meeting criteria in damage prevention, right sizing and material use became eligible to label their shipments as eco-friendly.
Since the Eco Responsible Packaging program launched, Barlow reports, customers are beginning to see its value. They're also looking beyond transportation packaging to other types of packaging, he said.
The program is an opt-in contractual service that UPS provides to any customer meeting its standards.
UPS assesses each customer's packaging at its lab to determine whether it qualifies for the eco label. The lab works with customers big and small, but charges a fee for the consultation service.
When it comes to life cycle analysis for packaging, ideally it should be done at the design state, but Barlow pointed out that this usually doesn’t happen. Many products get designed without an eye on sustainable measures and that is where the UPS design and test lab comes in, which helps customers determine how to design sustainable packaging for any given product.
"If a customer cannot do it on their own, then we come in as outside consultants. It's a fee-based service but any one is eligible to seek help. Typically it’s middle-market customers who seek our help -- we don't see too many garage-based businesses approaching us, although we can help everyone," Barlow said.
Barlow spoke in more detail about each category the lab assesses as part of its criteria.
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