Nearly every item that graces the shelves and carts of our local retail stores was first shipped in a box. In many stores, company policy dictates that those boxes are immediately broken down, flat stacked, and packaged for recycling. The simple act of breaking down a box usually signals the end of its productive life until it is recycled into another box. In those very same stores, those very same items are taken off the shelves by customers and ultimately placed in plastic bags that are insufficiently reused and recycled.
Those boxes represent an opportunity to eliminate the entry of plastic bags into the system altogether. We can skip the bag, and repurpose the box.
The idea is simple. And this solution is intended to help make the execution smooth and cost-efficient. My consulting firm can support stores in developing, implementing, tracking, and improving systems that seek to replace plastic (or paper) bags with repurposed boxes. We can aid in process and infrastructure conceptualization, floor space value considerations, training development, monitoring systems, PR capitalization, etc.
The beauty of this idea is its conceptual simplicity, utilization of existing resources, and value proposition to customers.
According to the WSJ, US retailers spend more than $4 billion handing out more than 100 billion plastic bags every year. With less than 1% of those bags being recycled, any improvement in that system would be significant. Replacing those bags with a repurposed box system introduces exactly zero new resources into that supply stream. With most recycling centers offering wider service areas than the multiple retailers they encompas, most of these boxes will eventually end up in the same recycling stream.
Global consumers are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of the companies they patronize. Environmental concerns cut across generations, geographies, and gender. Replacing bags with repurposed boxes makes intuitive sense and provides a blunt visual and kinetic cue to customers that your company doesn't just care but is making changes. It also has the benefit of being a great photo op. With cardboard recycling prices in a steady decline, the market has never been more primed to trade the recycling value of boxes for the cost savings of ditching bags and the marketing value of going green.