Pairing Automation and Sustainability
Unlock New Opportunities in Fulfillment Packaging
By Ryan Germann, Director of Global Product Management for Mailing Solutions at Pregis, LLC.
A profound momentum in the use of automation is propelling a wave of transformation across industries, fueled by the surge in e-commerce induced by the pandemic. Even before it met this dynamic environment, environmental sustainability was an unwavering focal point for conscious consumers.
In response, packaging suppliers enter the spotlight, igniting an innovation-driven era characterized by new materials, advanced machinery, and transformative technologies. Their accomplishments have made automated packaging fulfillment operations efficient and remarkably sustainable. These shifts signify an industry that is not merely adjusting to new realities, but strategically positioning itself for a future where sustainability serves as key performance driver.
As the world grows increasingly preoccupied with reducing its carbon footprint, sustainability transforms from merely a characteristic to a non-negotiable necessity, especially in packaging. In this context, the spotlight naturally gravitates toward mailers.
Plastic mailers have long borne the brunt of criticism. However, this narrative has taken a turn as packaging companies commit to improving materials, thicknesses, and other performance characteristics to pursue more ambitious sustainability goals.
Throughout this evolution, automated mailers emerge as symbols of transformation, offering an expansive array of options that span diverse materials, sizes, and other attractive attributes. The common thread among these new options is their shared objective: to empower companies to reduce their footprint while maintaining performance. Whether crafted from paper or plastic, the ultimate goal remains unchanged — delivering expedited, cost-effective packaging that inherently champions sustainable practices, reducing waste and energy consumption.
The adaptation witnessed in automated mailers signifies an industry that isn’t merely adapting to new circumstances but is actively positioning itself for a future where automation and sustainability intertwine seamlessly.
Automated mailers, particularly those crafted with sustainability in mind, such as those fashioned from paper or plastic or those endowed with a high post-consumer recycled (PCR) content, present an immediate and impactful avenue to reduce waste, curtail carbon emissions, and minimize resource consumption. Here lies a realm of untapped potential — an arena where paper mailers are wielded as efficiently as their plastic counterparts.
The spotlight on paper
The spotlight on paper as a sustainable alternative is more than merely a shift in materials. With companies setting their sights on ambitious sustainability targets, the role of proper packaging solutions becomes pivotal. Inherently biodegradable and curbside-recyclable, paper becomes crucial in reducing environmental impact and aligning with positive consumer perceptions in the right packaging applications.
Regardless of the material used, mailers have been central to numerous debates concerning the role of packaging in society. Their significance is undeniable—they offer practicality and protection, vital components of business operations. The challenge lies in harmonizing this practicality with the burgeoning rules of environmental responsibility.
In the face of labor market challenges, automation emerges as a beacon of resolution. The quest for cost-effective and reliable labor for repetitive tasks like packaging fulfillment has grown increasingly complex. Automation intervenes and can shoulder these tasks.
Further, scaling a business is a multifaceted endeavor, particularly as the lingering effects of the pandemic necessitate adaptable strategies. Automated mailers’ inherent flexibility and efficiency offer an advantage in this realm. They empower companies to venture down the path of scaling operations without grappling with the complications inherent in large-volume manual packaging. Growth becomes more attainable, unburdened by increases in operational costs associated with a poor packaging process.
Sustainable void fill
Another often-overlooked challenge in e-commerce is ‘void fill,’ where packages require additional material to fill empty spaces. Automated mailers address this concern seamlessly, providing a solution that aligns with right-sizing principles, eliminating the need for redundant fillers and significantly lowering shipping costs.
In the ever-demanding landscape of the growing e-commerce sector, automated packaging fulfillment solutions transcend the realm of mere responses to immediate market needs. They function as catalysts for unearthing new opportunities, shedding light on uncharted territories in sustainability, labor management, scalability, and shipping efficiencies.
This transformative narrative within automated packaging materials will usher in an era of automation characterized by intelligent, adaptable solutions offered by strong industry partners. As we adapt and evolve, the future holds promises of innovation and increased sustainability, paving the way for a more responsible and efficient world of packaging and fulfillment.
About the Author
Ryan Germann, Director of Global Product Management for Mailing Solutions at Pregis, LLC., leverages over a decade of packaging & logistics experience to drive product strategy forward to meet today and tomorrow’s fulfillment packaging needs. Learn more at www.pregis.com.