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The Wall Street Journal reports that "big retailers are rolling out machines in their e-commerce distribution operations that make packages sized specifically to fit the items being shipped, potentially reining in some of the big volumes of cardboard generated as online shopping has grown."

The fact is that the traditional method of using standard-sized cardboard boxes for shipping e-commerce orders, regardless of the size of the items being shipped, has proven to be expensive and wasteful.  "The accumulation of cardboard in households, trash heaps and recycling centers has been one visible result of the surge in online shopping in recent years," the Journal writes.  "E-commerce accounted for 14.7% of overall U.S. retail sales in the second quarter of 2022, the latest period for which figures were available, up from 5.8% a decade earlier, according to the U.S. Census Bureau."

Companies like Walmart and Amazon are expanding their use of customized packaging technology, available from various suppliers, as a way of taking a more thoughtful approach to a process that generally has prioritized speed over anything else.  The result, they expect, could be millions of dollars in savings.

KC's View:

I think e-commerce companies should be aggressive about touting their use of this technology, with information about it on every customized box that shows up at a consumer's home.  We all know the feeling of getting a small item in an way-oversized box, and how wasteful it seems.  Makes sense for e-commerce companies to attack that image as strongly as possible.