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Returning Packaging to the supplier?

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Chems

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I wanted a bit of community input on this, someone raised in in the Rutlands going green thread but its since dropped off the page so I thought I'd ask direct.

Cyclone Central is selling a fair amount of kits now, and the boxes we supply are between a half meter square and a full meter square (but only 50mm - 100mm deep) so fairly large boxes. I like the idea of having them returned to be re-used but am unsure what method people would favour to get them back, below are the options:

1. Offer to refund the customer the cost of their chosen postage service to return the box.
Pros - Customer can take their time and choose a courier most suitable for them.
Cons - We have no handle on cost and it could easily end up becoming expensive at the cost of being environmentally friendly.

2. Include some sort of pre-paid label in the box to allow the customer to return the box.
Pros - Cost fixed and very low effort required for the customer.
Cons - I've no idea if you can get freepost for parcels, and it would require people to drop off a large box at a post office.

3. Have an option to choose a box pickup 5 days after delivery. So if you Cyclone was delivered on the Monday then we'd arrange to have the box collected on the following Monday and all the customer would need to do is leave it outside for the delivery driver.
Pros - Easy for all involved.
Cons - Risk of lost boxes due to weather, have to be a service were the driver provides labels.

4. Offer free postage and packaging on the next order if they return the box, transferable to a friend.
Pros - Customer motivated to use a cheaper return service.
Cons - Most customers unlikely to make repeat orders as once you've got a Cyclone you're unlikely to need another. However allowing someone to gift it to a friend may solve the problem.

I don't want any of them to be mandatory because I know people recycle packaging themselves to send their own parcels and such.
Love to hear your feedback on this one as packaging wastage is a pet hate of mine, and unfortunately my product requires a big but mostly empty box!
 

Charlie Woody

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Could option 2 be amended as follows: You do a deal on cost with the courier you use to send out the kits for collection of the empties. End user then books courier collection at time convenient to them and the courier bills you once the pick up is confirmed?

Hope this makes sense.
 

Hudson Carpentry

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I would think them thats bothered about recycling would just opt to flatten the box and take it to there local recycle centre with all there other recycling. Its the easier for the customer. I don't know about other cities but the most of Nottinghamshire have different bins, one for recyclable waste (meaning the customer need not leave there drive to recycle) and other bins for normal house waste etc.

With these two points in mind I personally can't see any scheme you run being to successful. One other point would be is it cost effective to you. Does your packaging cost for one unit out way the cost to you having the box returned and then refunding what could be a 24hour delivery cost.

I can see there being 3 types of individuals.
1, What ever, don't care about recycling nor want the hassle of returning.
2, Very enthusiastic about recycling and would be happy to inconvenience themselves even to point where there out of pocket.
3, Ill just pop it in a recycling bin or centre, thats how ill do my bit.

Out of your options and not knowing the costs to your business I would say option 4!

EDIT: another point would be, will the packaging be reusable again after the customer has ripped open the box?
 

Chems

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Charlie Woody":3hhud7q0 said:
Could option 2 be amended as follows: You do a deal on cost with the courier you use to send out the kits for collection of the empties. End user then books courier collection at time convenient to them and the courier bills you once the pick up is confirmed?
I'd have to see if such an option existed, like an account that the customer could use to pay the bill if such a thing exists it sounds a little like freepost. I'll look into it :)


Hudson Carpentry":3hhud7q0 said:
I would think them thats bothered about recycling would just opt to flatten the box and take it to there local recycle centre with all there other recycling. Its the easier for the customer.
Recycling takes time and effort, direct recycling would be far more green, the box would only ever be made once, it would only ever be assembled once saving materials and it would be a completely green for the next customer.

Hudson Carpentry":3hhud7q0 said:
One other point would be is it cost effective to you. Does your packaging cost for one unit out way the cost to you having the box returned and then refunding what could be a 24hour delivery cost.
I think the return of the empty box would be far cheaper than the cost of a new box as they are pretty expensive as they are custom made and the new ones have foam sections inside to hold the parts.

Option 4 could be a multitude of incentives, such as refunding the cost of packaging back to the customer as that box can now be re-used.

@Bodger, they couldn't be flattened as they have foam glued in place inside and if this was removed it would make them un-suitable for use the next time. Although large they aren't the worlds biggest box they are roughly 500x500x50 or 800x900x100.
 

rileytoolworks

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I'm all for recycling, but will it not be worse for the environment if the box is delivered to the customer, and then returned in a diesel fuelled van, rather than recycled, which, let's face it, most of us do these days with the introduction of twice weekly collections.
I think it's a noble idea, and one which should be applauded, but I feel your company would be better off to source boxes made from recycled materials in the first place and ask the customer to recycle the box.
That's just my opinion though, and in any event, I wish you success. It sounds like it's going pretty well already.

Adam.
 

Chems

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Aces and Eights":32skgg8r said:
I'm all for recycling, but will it not be worse for the environment if the box is delivered to the customer, and then returned in a diesel fuelled van, rather than recycled, which, let's face it, most of us do these days with the introduction of twice weekly collections.
I think it's a noble idea, and one which should be applauded, but I feel your company would be better off to source boxes made from recycled materials in the first place and ask the customer to recycle the box.
That's just my opinion though, and in any event, I wish you success. It sounds like it's going pretty well already.

Adam.
They are already made from 75% recycled material so ok on that front. Also 100% recyclable so if the customer does that its also a winner. And the diesel van trip, if I buy new ones that's going to be a delivery to me anyhow, so there's a van trip in there somewhere either way. Thanks for the wishes!
 

Hudson Carpentry

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Chems":13o2qyhn said:
Recycling takes time and effort, direct recycling would be far more green, the box would only ever be made once, it would only ever be assembled once saving materials and it would be a completely green for the next customer
How many will think its easier to send back then just to throw in recycle bin thats at the back door? How many casual recyclers will, not realising its greener, just flatten and recycle in bin or centre.

If its worth getting the packaging back then I think them that will be interested in having the postage refunded will be happy to keep the box inside and wait for the carrier to pick come it up. In which case printing some informative recycling guides that also informs of your return box scheme and sending with each order may even get some more returned. If just getting one box back and paying for two lots of postage is cheaper then a new box then its worth it if you only get one back.

Maybe if there is such a service, packaging gets given back to carrier upon delivery.

EDIT: read something wrong so have adjusted above.
 

frosties

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Aces and eight said it well. Best thing you can do is find a replacement for your foam that is recyclable. Reduce cardboard wall thickness to a minimum. posting an empty box up to 700 miles around uk isnt logical in my opinion.

Try visiting a local design university and run a competition. Take in your used pacage and say you want to improve it. Marks and spencer done a competition to reduce their shirt pacage at my uni and the winner reduced pacaging space by 57% it now saves them £1000000/year.

If you dont have a design uni near you I could put you in touch with one of my lecturers

Good luck
 

frosties

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If you are worried about the effects to the environment you could also find a better material for your product that isnt petro chemical. The glue thats used for acrylic is also pretty nasty, could you illiminate glue usage?
just food for thought
 

jasonB

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How many uses would you actually get out of a box given the way they are treated by some couriers and customer would have to open them carefully without damaging the box. No point in offering an incentive to return if all you get back can't be used again.

I'd change the foam for something wood fibre based so the whole thing can go into houshold recycling. Maybe also a paper based packaging tape not vinyl to seal the box.

J
 

Noggsy

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I just wanted to applaud your sentiments. It's a great idea and, as the boxes are bespoke, then I can definitely see the benefits. As a customer, I would be really interested in returning packaging, because it drives me crazy having boxes lying about. Is there any mileage in an arrangement with your courier? Depending on how long your product takes to unpack, could they wait and bring the box directly back perhaps? This may not work when packages are left next door, for example, but I would be delighted if my courier said; "If you unpack that now, I'll take that big box off your hands". Green credentials for the courier as well, so if they are a large company, then this could be good PR for them.

Something at point of sale on your website could explain this and that would actually make me more likely to buy from you. Most companies allow an alternative delivery address, so arrangements could theoretically be made with the hypothetical neighbour ahead of time. Again, I guess this all depends on how easy your product is to unpack.

Good luck, it's an excellent aspiration.
 

marcros

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do couriers actually ever wait for you to check goods. In my experience they are more likely to post a card after a token knock and be heading out od the gate before you can get to the door.
 

Chems

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jasonB":uw2yvwy5 said:
How many uses would you actually get out of a box given the way they are treated by some couriers and customer would have to open them carefully without damaging the box. No point in offering an incentive to return if all you get back can't be used again.

I'd change the foam for something wood fibre based so the whole thing can go into houshold recycling. Maybe also a paper based packaging tape not vinyl to seal the box.

J
I guess there could be a few uses before the box would be un-usable, but I've seen one box do a round trip to Wales and back and it came back looking just the same as it did when I shipped it, not a mark on it. If that happened often I imagine they could be kept in circulation for a while.

Didn't know paper based packaging tape existed, just googled it and ordered some. Thanks.

frosties":uw2yvwy5 said:
Aces and eight said it well. Best thing you can do is find a replacement for your foam that is recyclable. Reduce cardboard wall thickness to a minimum. posting an empty box up to 700 miles around uk isnt logical in my opinion.

Try visiting a local design university and run a competition. Take in your used pacage and say you want to improve it. Marks and spencer done a competition to reduce their shirt pacage at my uni and the winner reduced pacaging space by 57% it now saves them £1000000/year.

If you dont have a design uni near you I could put you in touch with one of my lecturers

Good luck

If you are worried about the effects to the environment you could also find a better material for your product that isnt petro chemical. The glue thats used for acrylic is also pretty nasty, could you illiminate glue usage?
just food for thought
I think you over estimate our size, we aren't M&S level . . . yet! The glue and plastics, obviously we can't eliminate them either I'm afraid.

Noggsy":uw2yvwy5 said:
I just wanted to applaud your sentiments. It's a great idea and, as the boxes are bespoke, then I can definitely see the benefits. As a customer, I would be really interested in returning packaging, because it drives me crazy having boxes lying about. Is there any mileage in an arrangement with your courier? Depending on how long your product takes to unpack, could they wait and bring the box directly back perhaps? This may not work when packages are left next door, for example, but I would be delighted if my courier said; "If you unpack that now, I'll take that big box off your hands". Green credentials for the courier as well, so if they are a large company, then this could be good PR for them.

Something at point of sale on your website could explain this and that would actually make me more likely to buy from you. Most companies allow an alternative delivery address, so arrangements could theoretically be made with the hypothetical neighbour ahead of time. Again, I guess this all depends on how easy your product is to unpack.

Good luck, it's an excellent aspiration.
Thanks for your sentiments, its seems we are one of a few who feel alike about the issue. I like the idea of the courier returning it at the door, but I can't see it happening practically. The drivers are always out and about so a return trip is not really that un-green to come and get it 5 days later. We can also make the courier return trip carbon neutral as an UPS shipping option.

I think in the very least I will add the option to allow people to have the box re-collected from them 5 days later, we will pay for it and arrange it they just need to leave it outside for the courier.
 

beech1948

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Interesting idea. I would support return to supplier packaging.

The downside is both the extra diesel used to collect and the fact that the couriers treat each parcel as a large toy able to be kicked, thrown, squashed, bashed and generally ill treated. I took part in a survey of couriers for a well known store and observed at the shop floor level in depots what goes on.

Friday was always the worst as the "lads" were busy thinking about Saturday football.

Al
 

paul-c

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hi chems
i used to work for target couriers, now called city link,
we used to have a contract similar to what you are talking about - dropping a delivery off and later collecting the box but for the large items ,like yours it was more effective to use a tough stackable plastic crate as they didnt get damaged ,protected the components enclosed and people realised they would be returned (not sure if there was a deposit incase of non return ) and they last well - just placing a sticky address label on each time. while they must have cost a fair bit more than a cardboard box they last for years.
hope this is some help
cheers
paul-c
 

Chems

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Thanks Paul, interesting concept, I've never heard of it before. The only downside is that it requires everyone to participate, I don't want to force people into doing something. But its good to know its an idea that couriers are familiar with if I do it that way.
 

Charlie Woody

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Chems
Could you offer at the order point delivery options for the customer (1) delivery in the plastic packaging suggested by paul-c cor reuse or (2) cardboard box non returnable?

This might give the best of both worlds as the people who would like to be environmentally friendly can choose option 1 and you will get it back; while those who are n't interested will get rid of the packaging however they think fit.
 

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