People are paying attention

Sophie Ellis
Sophie Ellis
February 9, 2023

Shipping goods costs money.

“Shipping air” - the empty space within a box for transport - adds to this cost through the need for additional void fill (material used to fill up empty space), increased breakages, and returns.

The consequences of this empty space are compounded when you consider one poorly packed box, applied across one pallet, then one shipping container.

In 2021, 1.1 billion parcels (under 35kg) were shipped within Australia alone1, that’s 34 parcels per second. Conservatively, if we estimate just 5% of those packages were not properly optimised, that equates to 55 million packages that shipped air across the country.

The cost of shipping air is not only financial, it also costs carbon.

Leading multi-carrier aggregator Shippit collected data from deliveries across Australia, spanning over 2.2 billion kilometres to measure how much carbon is generated from the moment a parcel is picked up to when it’s delivered. They found that these deliveries contributed to approximately 4000 tonnes of carbon emissions2.

Traditionally, the focus on reducing delivery times has been driven by consumer expectation. The likes of Amazon have conditioned consumers to expect their online orders to arrive quickly.

However, people are starting to notice the impact of this delivery-speed-trumps-everything approach and consumer sentiment towards the environmental impact of their shipping choices is changing.

“Consumers are not prepared to just accept the convenience of delivery at the cost of the environment, and they are increasingly aware of the growing impact the e-commerce sector is having on CO2 emissions.” - Raghav Sibal, Managing Director, ANZ - Manhattan Associates

In a recent study, over 60% of Australian consumers indicated that they often received online orders in multiple shipments2. This is a direct result of the perceived demand for speedy delivery.

However, the issue of sustainability seems to be gaining traction as a circuit breaker for consumers' past obsession with delivery speed, with 81% now thinking that this is an inefficient and unsustainable way of delivering goods2.

Retail brands are being put on notice as social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Reddit and Twitter all feature hashtags like #ExcessivePackaging and #UnnecessaryPackaging littered with examples of this consumer dissatisfaction.

Despite market uncertainty, forecasts suggest that global parcel volumes are likely to double pre-pandemic levels, reaching 205 billion parcels by 2024. The problem of shipping air is only going to get worse.

By automating efficiency in secondary packaging we can make huge impacts down the distribution line when it comes to carbon emissions and shipping costs.

This is where Boxstax comes in.


1. Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index

2. Research report ‘Sustainability in the Australian Retail Supply Chain’ commissioned by Manhattan Associates, Shippit and Greener – in partnership with the National Retail Association (NRA) and National Online Retail Association (NORA)

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