The Environmental Impact of DIM
Dimensional weight, sometimes referred to as “DIM weight” or “volumetric weight”, is a common industry practice that bases the transportation price, or billable weight, on a combination of weight and package volume. In other words, DIM weight is used to determine the shipping rate based on the length, width, and height of a parcel. It’s used when a package is relatively light compared to its volume.
When a small item is placed in a large box, the environment loses, the carrier loses, the shipper loses and the customer loses. Everyone loses.
Why DIM Weight is the Environment’s Friend
We’ve all seen it. Piles of “void fill”, or padding, inside a box way too large for your item to be delivered in. This has increasingly become a huge problem in terms of wastefulness and environmental impact, and we saw it more than ever over the 2016 holiday peak season.
In fact, a news team recently covered this topic discovering that 40% of online shoppers are being sent deliveries in boxes that are too big, creating an extra two billion pounds of waste every year. Yikes!
Donna Hume from Friends of Earth states, “This is a big environmental problem, especially over the Christmas period in terms of the amount of waste, energy and the amount of trees that are chopped down. There is so much more that retailers could be doing about it.”
Many companies, especially those in e-commerce, have reputations for using inefficient, wasteful packaging. Although numerous companies say they are “green”, they still use oversized boxes with unnecessary void fill. But changing old ways of packaging is difficult because most organizations don’t necessarily view packaging as part of their supply chain. Double yikes!
Fuel Savings for Carriers
Dimensional weight reflects package density, which is the amount of space a package occupies on a delivery truck in relation to its actual weight.
Smaller packaging yields less packaging waste, equaling more efficiently stacked freight on truck pallets. The DIM weight charge was designed to help carriers drive more revenue by getting more goods on the existing fleet, rather than investing in more planes, trucks and vans to handle increasing parcel volumes.
Many times, due to improper box selection, carriers find themselves delivering packages that are much larger than required for the safe delivery of a given item. This causes vehicles to “cube out” before they actually reach their physical weight capacity. It also means that more carrier trucks need to hit the roads to deliver all of these parcels.
Customer Responses to Packaging
The tides have turned. Not only are customers paying attention to how quickly they can get their orders, but also what their orders are coming in.
Nearly 68% of Americans say they are more conscious of packaging materials and design today than they were five years ago. A customer’s response to receiving a thumb drive in a shoebox is important to consider. Oversized packaging upsets consumers who dislike air bags, bubble wrap and paper with a small item in an oversized box. In fact, 34% of customers say packaging reflects the retailer’s environmental commitment.
Optimizing Packaging Minimizes the Environmental Impact
Most businesses inventory six to ten shipping boxes and hope that their packer chooses the smallest size to fit the item(s). But often times, pressured by high parcel volume and time constraints, the packer can overlook this and the smallest box isn’t always chosen. This leads to the addition of unnecessary void fill to secure the items inside.
This is why optimizing packaging should be a top priority for anyone who ships parcels. So join the effort to reduce DIM weight by using less corrugated material and void fill to create the perfect size parcel every time. The environment (not to mention your customers) will thank you.