Use Display Boxes as Shipping Containers to Reduce Packaging Waste

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The call to use environmentally friendly packaging materials is to choose cardboard over plastic when making products or shipping boxes, effectively reducing waste for your brand.

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Last Updated on November 1, 2023 by Packoi Team

Over the years, companies have tried to find ways to do more than just use eco-friendly packaging. They’ve revolutionized their processes to incorporate reusable packaging into their operations.

In this article, you’ll learn more about how some companies have taken innovative steps to improve their packaging solutions. You’ll also discover how you can implement these concepts in your business.

Is It Possible to Use Shipping Containers as Display Boxes?

The simple answer to this question is, yes, it is possible. An article published in Nikkei Asia reported how Costsco Japan and Kao, a supplier of household products, started using dual-use packaging in the form of reusable crates.

These crates initially functioned as shipping containers to protect the product from damage while being delivered. But once they are in the store, they are converted into display boxes that can be stacked on top of each other like shelves.

The reusable packaging systems set up by the two companies are meant to do more than just improve their environmental impact. It was also meant to deal with the shortage of labor that Japan was struggling with.

reusable crates

Since the design of the reusable container doubles as a display box, there’s no need to unload and unpack the products before they can be displayed. Upon arrival, the products in the reusable packaging can go straight to the display area to be sold.

The article revealed that this cut restocking time by 20% and their carbon emissions by more than 30%. Best of all, no packaging materials are wasted. The crates are made of sustainable packaging materials that can be reused multiple times.

Although this means the cardboard boxes have been replaced, the durability and reusability of the new packaging materials make them very effective and environmentally friendly.

What does this mean for your business?

It means there’s a wide range of possibilities for your brand if you want to be more sustainable with your packaging solutions. You don’t have to limit yourself to using cardboard boxes to be more eco-friendly with your packaging.

You can choose to focus on reusability to minimize or eliminate the need to throw packaging away after one use.

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The SIOC Concept to Reduce Packaging Waste

Amazon is another company that has implemented the same concept as Costco Japan and Kao. They refer to it as the SIOC concept.

Before going into that, let’s discuss a bit of background first. According to a study published on Science Direct, the circular economy’s main challenge is reducing the need for virgin raw materials, which packaging uses a lot. But this has to be done without compromising brick-and-mortar and e-commerce packaging systems.

In the past, solutions focused on switching to sustainable packaging materials like cardboard and bio-based materials. Even if the packaging material was discarded after one or a few uses, it was acceptable since the packaging material is recyclable anyway.

This solution is no longer enough. Waste packaging continues to increase in landfills, and the need to recycle old packaging is increasing carbon emissions. The desired environmental impact is not as expected.

sustainable packaging

As it turns out, choosing eco-friendly packaging material isn’t cutting it. We need to focus on reducing the use of packaging.

It’s not clear if this is why Amazon came up with the SOIC concept. Nevertheless, it’s a concept that businesses could benefit from if they wish to reduce the negative impact of their packaging on the environment.

What Does SOIC Mean?

SIOC is short for “Ships in Own Container.” This is Amazon’s way of encouraging e-commerce packaging to have a dual purpose. The product packaging material should be durable enough to be shipped in the same product box or container that it’s in.

Overall, the SIOC concept is meant to make packaging easier and more cost-efficient. By choosing a packaging material that is durable enough to be shipped out without additional protective layers, you’re reducing the environmental impact of every product you ship out.

If you combine this reduction with the use of eco-friendly packaging, you’re making a greater positive environmental impact.

This is just one of the sustainable packaging solutions that you can use to keep your company compliant with eco-friendly initiatives. You can even use this to advocate for sustainability and impress your customers with your efforts to help save the environment.

eco-friendly packaging

Is SOIC and Reusability Applicable to All Products?

Without a doubt, the reusable crates and SOIC concept are a great way to reduce packaging material waste. It’s effective in making your business more sustainable and eco-friendly.

But the reality is that reusable packaging doesn’t apply to all products. So you need to be careful with the packaging solutions that you’ll implement in your business. Sometimes, the product requires specific packaging materials to ensure that its integrity won’t be compromised.

If you’re shipping medical supplies, delicate equipment, and other consumables, these may require special packaging—specifically, a sanitized one. That means reusing old packaging isn’t advisable unless it has been properly sanitized.

It’s important to consider the product that you’re shipping before making any concrete decisions about your packaging. Make sure it meets the specific needs of the product to ensure it won’t be compromised in any way.

Of course, it’s still advisable to reuse packaging, despite the sensitivity of certain products. With all the packaging innovations that companies are coming up with, it’s not unlikely that there’s a solution that can apply to your product. Do your research so you can be aware of new packaging concepts that you can use.

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5 Benefits of Reusing the Shipping Container Into a Display Box

Although recycling old packaging materials has a positive impact on the environment, it’s been proven that it’s not enough to reverse the negative effects of material waste. Neither does using 100% eco-friendly packaging.

You need to combine these efforts with reusable packaging to make a greater impact on the problems that we have with waste.

Reusing packaging materials lowers the need for new packaging, which keeps us from consuming more virgin materials. Not only that, slowing the production of new materials and the recycling process would decrease carbon emissions.

That’s the reason why using dual-purpose packaging should be considered more seriously. You want to ensure that the effects of your packaging solution leave a better environment, even with all the packaging that your product will need.

There are 5 main benefits to reusing shipping containers into display boxes.

shipping containers into display boxes

1. Reduces Packaging Waste

Reusable packaging materials mean they won’t end up in the recycling bin soon—much less in the trash. When your product arrives from the warehouse or shipping company, it’s no longer necessary to unpack the products first before they can be displayed. They can be carried straight to the display area and sold.

There will be no packaging waste in this process—or at least, it won’t be immediate. By using recyclable packaging, you’ll be preventing this from reaching landfills. The waste can be sent to recycling facilities to be made into new packaging material.

2. Lowers Shipping Costs

What usually goes into a shipping box? You have the product, the inner packaging, the outer packaging (product box), fillers and cushioning materials, and the shipping box. You also have the packaging tape, labels, stickers, etc.

All these packaging materials add to the weight of the overall shipment. But if you use the same container for shipping and displaying, you’ll be eliminating at least one layer of packaging. This will make the shipment lighter. That’s how you incur cost savings through reusable packaging.

Of course, the actual cost of the box that you removed would also add to the savings on your packaging budget. With the lowered shipping and packaging expenses, you can pass on those cost savings to your customers, increasing both satisfaction and loyalty.

3. Minimizes Damage

There are two ways this packaging strategy minimizes damage.

The first is damage to the product. Since the reusable packaging is meant to be a shipping container, you’d naturally choose durable packaging materials. After all, if the container gets damaged while shipping, this would render it useless as a display box. With the stronger and more durable box, you’re increasing the protection that your products will get.

The second is damage to the environment. By using less packaging, you’re lowering the negative environmental impact of your company. You’re limiting the waste that ends up in landfills. You’re also lowering your carbon footprint by using fewer materials to ship your products.

image 143

4. Simplifies the Shipping Process

One of the reasons why Kao and Costco Japan opted for reusable packaging systems is to minimize the need for workers to unpack boxes. When a shipment arrives, they don’t have to spend time unpacking the products from the shipping containers. They can take it to the display to restock items.

That’s how it cuts the shipping process. By cutting the shipping process, fewer workers are needed, which cuts costs as well.

If you think that these packaging materials are only beneficial to brick-and-mortar businesses, you’re wrong. Even e-commerce transactions will benefit from this, but instead of being display boxes, these can become storage boxes. Or you can simply make durable shipping boxes to eliminate the need for individual product boxes. This will lessen the negative environmental impact and lower your carbon footprint as well.

By doing this, you’ll be impressing your customers with the packaging’s ingenuity, which will increase their loyalty to your brand.

5. Saves Storage Space

This is another benefit for your logistics and operations. The dual-purpose packaging materials will help you save storage space. Instead of having to store separate display boxes, you can save that space for something else. Once the shipment arrives, the reusable packaging will allow you to display it immediately in the store.

This would give you more space to accommodate more products to sell.

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7 Tips When Using Multi-Functional Packaging Materials

Businesses have to remember that using sustainable packaging isn’t just about saving the environment or lowering your packaging costs. When you start using eco-friendly packaging materials, you’re making your business more competitive. If you read through several studies, you’ll learn that consumers prefer to support brands that practice sustainability and those that use eco-friendly materials.

By choosing reusable packaging, you’ll get the attention of eco-conscious customers. They’ll appreciate your efforts to be more sustainable.

Of course, you’ll only get this result if you create the right packaging for your brand. As you plan and design your sustainable packaging, make sure you consider these tips.

1. Focus on Innovative Design

Innovation is a must if you want to maximize the reusability of your packaging materials. You have to do your research or consult professional designers if you want your reusable packaging to be durable, functional, and sustainable.

This would all start with the reusable packaging materials that you’ll use. Look for innovative alternatives that can meet the needs of your product and display strategy.

shipping boxes design

With the right materials, you can figure out the design that it can accommodate. Will you use solid colors or a full print? Although shipping boxes are usually plain, you have to remember that your packaging should have a dual purpose. If you plan to use it as a display box, it has to be visually appealing as well.

Apart from that, the color and printing technique that you should use must survive the scruffs, scratches, and dirt that it’ll go through during delivery. If the design is destroyed, you wouldn’t want to display it in the store. Not only that, the packaging will have to allow cleaning so any dirt can be wiped off without compromising the design and structure.

2. Keep the Packaging Functional

While the design is critical, the function also takes center stage as you plan your reusable packaging. Although paper-based material is the common option when it comes to eco-friendly packaging, don’t get yourself stuck on that idea.

In case you want to replace cardboard boxes to improve durability, that’s okay. Paper-based packaging isn’t the only biodegradable material that you can use. There are bio-based materials that possess the same qualities as plastic. They’re more durable and can withstand moisture and drops in temperature.

Another thing that you can consider is the size of the packaging. If you can design it to be modular or expandable, you can increase the functionality of the packaging. With more functions, you can use it more and keep it from landfills longer.

3. Source Eco-Friendly Packaging Materials

The eco-friendly packaging materials that you’ll use will play a huge role in the reusability of your shipping and display boxes. First of all, you want to make sure that you’re getting it from the right source. Some companies offer eco-friendly cardboard boxes, but they don’t get them from responsibly managed forests. Research the company you get sustainable packaging materials from so you can be sure that you’re not contributing to the exploitation of our forests by mistake.

At this point, there are already a lot of biodegradable materials that can replace the old and toxic options that were used in the past. Do your research and see what alternatives you can get from recycled, biodegradable, and even upcycled materials.

eco-friendly shipping and display box

4. Create Trackable, Reusable Packaging

To make reusable packaging systems effective, you need a method to track where each of them will go. This will help you determine how long the reusable packaging can be used.

For instance, if you’re using both for shipping and display, can you reuse the same packaging for shipping once the products are sold from the display? If so, you’d want to know for how long you can use it.

This will help you improve the whole system and ensure that you’re getting the most out of the packaging materials that you use. At the very least, this will guide you in choosing the next batch of packaging that your brand will use.

Tracking your packaging is just a matter of printing QR codes or using RFID tags. This will help you repurpose your packaging in creative and innovative ways.

5. Ensure Collaboration on All Fronts

Your sustainable packaging solutions will only be effective if you get everyone to collaborate and cooperate. Your reusable packaging systems will be handled by several people in your business. It’s best to provide instructions so they can help maximize the reusability of the packaging materials.

The instructions should include how the reusable packaging should be handled. How should the packaging be stored so it won’t get damaged? Set up the equipment for the QR codes or RFID tags so workers can scan and take note of them.

The more seamless the operations are, the more effective your efforts will be.

6. Get Consumers Involved and Educated

It’s not just the workers that need to be involved in the whole process. You also have to involve your consumers.

For one, they’ll have to be informed about the eco-friendly packaging materials that you’re using. This is a powerful marketing tool that you can use to improve the image of your brand. Not only that, if you use reusable packaging on your e-commerce site, you’ll want the customer to know how to reuse it. Maybe they can use it to store the products they bought from you.

Give them guidance on how to maximize the reusable packaging that you designed. At the very least, you want them to help you reduce packaging waste by indefinitely reusing your boxes.

7. Find a Sustainable Packaging Supplier

It’ll be easier to follow through with your reusable packaging systems if you have the right partner. This is why you have to choose a sustainable packaging supplier to work with.

As mentioned, some companies claim to use eco-friendly methods and source their materials from the right forests. But without the right certifications, you can’t guarantee that this is true, so make sure you check what certifications they hold.

Conduct due diligence before you trust a supplier to produce reusable shipping containers for your brand. You want to get proof of their sustainable practices so you can protect the image that you want to build for your brand.

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Different Products That Can Use Dual-Use Packaging

While dual-use packaging is beneficial, it might not be ideal for all products. You should always consider the needs of your product first before choosing to use reusable packaging.

Some items require a different display box, so you can’t use reusable shipping containers. There are e-commerce products that require special cushions, so the shipping box can’t be reused inside the store.

Here are examples of products that can use reusable and eco-friendly packaging.

1. Shoe Boxes

shoe shipping boxes

When ingeniously designed with the right packaging materials, shoe boxes can double as display boxes as well. Choose a print that compliments the design of the shoe so the reusable packaging can blend well with your display. You can also add perforations to the cardboard boxes so they can transform into a platform that can highlight the shoes. Or you can have different show boxes that look like shoe racks.

2. Food Containers

Using recyclable packaging materials for food products is acceptable as long as you meet the sanitation requirements. Make sure the reusable packaging has qualities that can protect the product from being contaminated or compromised.

Once you’re sure of that, you can think of innovative ways to transform reusable packaging into a display tool. One idea is to make it convertible into a food tray. Put the right design on the reusable containers so they’ll look visually appealing.

food containers

3. Electronic Device Packaging

There are many ways to make electronic packaging reusable. The packaging materials for electronic devices can double as a display case if you put windows on them. That way, the store can just hang it and it’ll be ready for display.

With a bit of creativity, you can make the reusable packaging more functional than that. For instance, you can design it to be a charging station as well. Or it can be a holder for the device once the customer has opened it. Have the store demo this feature so customers will be aware of what they can do with your eco-friendly packaging.

4. Jewelry Boxes

Can jewelry use packaging materials that can be reused? Of course! Although they are usually small, these products require durable, eco-friendly packaging to protect the fragile jewelry pieces. By adding a few compartments inside the reusable packaging, you can convert it into a compact jewelry organizer for traveling.

Create jewelry packaging that can be used for display in the store and that the customers can also use when they decide to buy it for themselves.

5. Cosmetic Packaging

cosmetic packaging boxes

Cosmetic packaging usually has a different product box from the actual container of the cosmetic product. What does that mean? It means your packaging materials can be designed without compromising the product because it has its own container anyway.

This gives you more freedom to be creative with the design of your reusable packaging. For instance, use perforated cardboard boxes that can open up to display multiple products in the store. Or you can provide instructions so customers can turn it into a makeup organizer or a compact vanity box.

Design Your Own Dual-Use Packaging, Packoi Printing Can Help with the Design Process.

Nowadays, it’s no longer enough for companies to choose eco-friendly packaging materials for their products. Reusable packaging is the better option to help promote and practice sustainability. It reduces waste and increases cost savings.

Admittedly, designing dual-use packaging might be challenging for some business owners. But with the right guidance and expert help, you can create packaging that’s both innovative and revolutionary—so much so that it’ll elevate the value of your brand.

If you want to know more about this, Packoi Printing can help. We have design services that can help you create the right reusable packaging for your product.

Get in touch with us so we can discuss your packaging needs. We’ll send you a fair quote as soon as possible.

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Hey there, I’m Shelly!

I really enjoy the packaging and printing industry because my work makes my clients’ products more beautiful and enjoyable. If you have any questions about packaging and printing, feel free to contact me!

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