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What is Henry Schein doing to reduce packing waste?

practice green, sustainable packaging, reduce packing waste
15:55 / 10-05-2023


As the Henry Schein Practice Green initiative launches, we want to shine a spotlight on the things we are doing to go greener. This includes introducing more sustainable packaging solutions and reducing packing waste.

Most people who order products online will have wondered at some stage: why have they used so much packaging? Items might be placed in boxes that are too large, leaving an excess of carboard and creating a need for void-filling solutions, often still made of single-use plastics.

So why does this happen? And what is Henry Schein doing to increase the sustainability of packaging?

2-May-04-2023-10-21-48-1951-AMAs we actively work towards a greener future, you might be surprised to see that we still use single-use plastics in some of our packaging, and that our boxes for delivery are occasionally larger than seems necessary. The reason for this is that we sell products of all different shapes and sizes, which makes it difficult to store the perfect sized shipping box for everything. Instead, we have 6 standard sizes of box that all our products are shipped in.

Because of these standard sizes, it can mean that when a product is slightly too large for one size box, the next size up can seem excessive. The boxes that we use are made of 60% recycled materials and can be widely recycled. For orders that require void-filling packaging to be safely transported, Henry Schein uses bubble wrap, plastic bags, and air pillows.

These soft plastics are necessary to avoid damage to products in transit, and the plastic bags and bubble wrap we use can be recycled at supermarket facilities. There are some local authorities who collect these soft plastics kerbside, but this varies from community to community. To support the Practice Green initiative, we encourage our customers to find recycling points for these products wherever possible.

The void air pillows, bubble wrap, bubble mailers, and grip seal bags that we use have 30% recycled materials, to help improve the sustainability of the plastics we still use.

However, we know that this is something we need to continually improve upon. As part of our effort to become more sustainable, we are undertaking a project to review the dimensions of our product ranges, so we can re-evaluate whether our selected box sizes are the most effective choice.

We hope that packing more effectively will also mean that there is more room on delivery trailers, so that more products can be loaded into the same space, which will reduce the number of shipments we send out.

As well as this, we have developed training sessions for our Packing Teams, with the support of our Packing Consultants, to teach techniques for distributing weight across the strongest parts of the box to prevent damages and minimise the need for void-filling materials while maximising protection. Furthermore, Packing Teams are being taught how to safely use plastic bags to keep liquids from potentially spoiling other products, while avoiding excessive use of the bags.

1-May-04-2023-10-21-47-5515-AMSustainable packaging is an ongoing journey for Henry Schein. There is a balance needed between moving from our current processes and packing products over to more sustainable solutions, while also continuing to deliver products safely, promptly, and undamaged. We are optimistic about the changes and successes we are already seeing, and we are absolutely committed to continuing to try out new sustainable materials as they become available on the scale we require.

Finally, we are very proud to have achieved our ISO14001 certification, which proves that our Environmental Management system is an effective framework that helps us to make improvements to our business sustainability.

Importantly, the ISO14001 certification means that we are regularly audited by an external body, so you can rest assured that these processes and improvements really are in place and working.

As with all aspects of going green, it is a progressive journey that takes time. These steps are not the end of our efforts towards more sustainable packaging. Henry Schein meets regularly with packaging suppliers to help refine the methods that we use into a greener model. We will continue to improve and introduce increasingly sustainable practices into all areas of the business, including packaging.

Packaging infographic

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