Christmas is around the corner, and this year’s festivities look set to be more digital than traditional. With the second lockdown due to end on 2nd December, the likelihood of people turning to online retailers for presents remains high. 

The pandemic is pushing people towards online shopping this Christmas, with companies adapting. Royal Mail is hiring 33,000 extra temporary workers to help cope with the demand of parcels from online purchases. 

Given the expected surge in online sales, today’s focus is around courier services and how they can become more sustainable over the Christmas period. 

Rethink packaging 

Packaging is an easy place to start regarding a more sustainable way of operating. Traditional packaging, such as single-use cardboard and plastic, can end up in landfill, oceans and rivers. It also causes damage to wildlife and the environment.

The safety of boxes and parcels during transit is vital for customer experience and minimising returns. Ditching plastic for recycled and biodegradable card or sturdy paper is a smart way to ensure customers aren’t affected by the change. It also means couriers can join the fight to reduce waste and become greener in the process. 

One small business owner in Bournemouth recently swapped plastic parcel tape for a brown paper alternative. It provided the photography seller with a stronger, eco-friendly solution that’s still pleasing on the eye. 

Reusable packaging that cuts out single-use products will benefit the business and the customer by:

  • Reducing the amount of product packaging required
  • Promoting the use of renewable materials
  • Cutting back on packaging-related expenses
  • Eliminating the use of toxic materials. 

Focus on an eco-friendly system

You may feel like packaging is the only way to improve your sustainability efforts. But much like Santa Claus delivers presents all night, couriers spend the month of December—if not earlier months, too—going back and forward dropping off gifts on doorsteps. 

Increased journeys result in more carbon emissions. Not only does the festive season mean more trips to make deliveries, but it also means more trips to pick up items from depots and warehouses. 

To help reduce emissions and limit travel time, use a returnable transit packaging product like a plastic pallet. Vehicle fill can increase by 40 per cent, making it a top way to be more efficient and greener in the process. 

Right first time

Failed deliveries cost the parcel industry £1.6 billion in 2019 according to a report by Netdespatch in 2019. 

Cutting down on ‘failed first time’ delivery is another way for couriers to reduce their carbon footprint. Transport miles can be decreased as drivers won’t need to make repeat trips to the same destination for the same product.

Accurately forecast demand

Making decisions based on facts is important for an industry that’s always under pressure to get things right first time. Accurately forecasting customer demand allows decisions to be made without second guessing. 

Using data to support your inventory purchasing decisions will avoid surplus stock. This also prevents any harm to environmental resources that are required to maintain product quality. With a greater understanding of the product levels required to meet customer demand, material and overhead costs that have been saved can be reallocated. A smart and sustainable supply chain gives you the best possible chance to reduce waste and maximise efficiency. 

And that’s our list of top tips for courier services to become more sustainable over Christmas. Online deliveries will surge over the next month, but these aren’t just things to get right before there’s no turkey left. They’re designed for long-term success in the world of sustainability.