Interesting times are ahead for companies that purchase significant pulp and paper volumes, a group that includes virtually any manufacturer with packaging needs. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Producer Price Index, from February 2020 to February 2021, pulp and paper prices increased more than 5%. Data published by the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank shows that corrugated prices increased approximately 11.5% between September 2020 and March 2021. These price increases will soon show up in packaging costs...if they aren’t already.
Remember the days when ecommerce was just starting out and online shopping was viewed as the green option? Rather than idling on gridlocked roads belching exhaust fumes en route to the mall, consumers could complete a few mouse clicks from the comfort of their desk chairs and merchandise would magically appear at their doorstep.
Those promises of convenience have largely played out; the environmental benefits are a murkier picture, however. Look no further than curbside on recycling day for evidence of this new shopping model. Increasingly, instead of 30 widgets packed in one box going to retailers, 30 separate boxes are going directly to consumers – even when consumers place orders for multiple items. Does the carbon footprint of added cardboard and bubble wrap outweigh the reduced auto emissions? The answer isn’t as tidy as initially thought.