Packaging and Logistics: Cost-effectiveness Through Sustainability

Written by Johanna Kotomäki
Manager, Packaging Design

As the prices of materials and logistics have risen, many companies have ended up cutting costs for packaging as well. When talking about packaging and logistics more generally, it’s good to remember that environmental impact and costs often go hand in hand. Thus, cost savings can be made by upholding green values.

The field of packaging materials is developing at a rapid pace right now. Especially in the case of fiber-based materials, new products are constantly being added to the selection, and the prices will decrease as the volumes increase. The chemical recycling of plastic also enables the wider usage of materials and renew the field of recycled plastics.  

Minimize Emissions by Optimizing Packaging 

Trucks and shipping containers that travel half empty are a waste of money due to increased costs. This is the simplest cause of emissions to understand. However, improvements in efficiency do not require a clearly empty container as the starting point, but at its best, cargo optimization is already done at the individual and pallet packaging level by looking at the sizes. The aim is not to minimize excess space, but to find the optimal sizes based on the volume of the products. When it’s possible to combine boxes of different sizes to make optimal use of pallet space, fewer boxes can be used, and costs can be effectively reduced by increasing the volume of individual parts. The reduced number of packing parts also reduces the number of storage places required and the required shelf space in the packing plant. This increases not only space savings, but also work efficiency. When the assortment of items is large, or when there is a lot of variation in the products, the whole can be viewed through sales data. In this case, the production chain can be processed throughout its scope.  

In the material field, calculating costs and switching to more environmentally friendly alternatives is not always quite as easy. For example, bio-based or recycled plastics are still more expensive. In these cases, the increase in costs can be reversed with rational planning. Multi-material solutions, material optimization, and defining the correct level of protection by the packaging can effectively reduce material sales. This means that the price impact of new materials is low or, at its best, negative.   

Efficiency Throughout the Supply Chain 

An additional benefit is achieved, when looking at packaging and the supply chain also beyond product packaging. In production, costs can be reduced by minimizing damage in intralogistics, by replacing single-use packaging with circulating ones, or, for example, by creating instructions for incoming packaging. Changes like these always require a good understanding of starting points and goals in order to achieve the desired results, but the results are also quickly visible in everyday operations. When packing and unpacking, the well-designed packaging also supports ergonomic handling, reducing sick leaves, and shortening production transit time. In addition, it reduces the cost of installation, facilitates the inspection and dismantling of products in the order of installation, as well as the post-treatment of waste at the end of the work.   

Reclamations, especially in the case of large and expensive equipment, also entail high costs. One might quickly think that packaging which is as supportive as possible would become profitable in the end. However, when reducing the number of complaints, it’s important to find the root causes of the damage, and not just make the packaging sturdier on all sides. In the worst case, prices will rise, but complaints will remain. By determining a sufficient level of protection, a test plan to ensure it, and getting to know how the current packaging works throughout the chain, you can effectively get to the root causes. At the same time, additional support can be concentrated on the right structures, thus keeping the cost increase to a minimum. It is also important to remember that not all transport damage can be prepared for.   

When cutting costs and looking for alternative solutions, supplier-independent manufacturing drawings can be of great help. In the accuracy of the drawings, it’s worth taking into account the supplier-specific differences in the machinery or material warehouse, and leaving the packaging manufacturer the opportunity to finish the products to be optimal for their own production. In this case, the waste generated at the packaging supplier’s end is not transferred to the prices of the packaging parts.  


Huld’s packaging design team have been involved in hundreds of different packaging and logistics development projects over the years. We always tailor projects to meet the customer’s needs, so we have accumulated experience on a wide scale. We are happy to tell you more about our past projects and what kind of goals we have achieved. Read more and contact us!