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Green logistics: Optimize your packages to reduce the environmental impact of your supply chain

Logistics is the lifeblood of our economy. Without it, there is no link between producers and consumers, therefore no more industry or trade.
The severity of the consequences of climate change, however, requires that we now be more resource-efficient. Logistics will remain essential, but it must adapt today by reducing its impacts as quickly as possible

Initial situation

In terms of Greenhouse Gases (GHG), the main issues are linked to road and air transport. But whether it is the location of factories versus that of customers, or the availability of low-carbon transport alternatives, changes will take years.

In contrast, internal levers are available as of today: they are linked to order preparation by optimizing the use of packaging. Let’s take a look at a concrete impact through the implementation at a distributor, a SAVOYE customer.

A distribution platform for hardware, tools and industrial supplies, located in France and delivering more than 120,000 references directly or via its branches to professional customers:

  • Managing 3000 orders / day
  • Shipping an average of 3,800 packages per day
  • Using 5 different conventional RSC (US cases) carton formats, manually formed and closed
  • With a 43% carton filling rate (o i.e. 69m3 of empty space shipped daily)

The project: the implementation of a latest generation WMS and three packaging lines, combining PAC600® formers and Jivaro® closing machines from Savoye.

The correct optimization order!


The package with the lowest impact… is the one that we did not send! The customer deadline defined in the service policy may make it possible to not send a partial delivery, or to group together orders for the day or even several days. The use of advanced WMS (Warehouse Management System) solutions makes it possible to consolidate successively placed orders in a single package. And the item nesting functions play an optimized game of Tetris, using the hollows of the ordered items (e.g.: delivering reams of paper inside wastebaskets, etc.). Finally, the WMS selects the carton best suited to the grouped order from amongst several formats. We can thus eliminate 20% of packages sent, i.e. 120 tons of cartons and 100 tons of CO2 per year.


For reasons of purchase optimization and station availability, it is not possible to use an infinite number of cardboard formats. Or rather it is possible, by adjusting the height of each carton.

Thanks to JIVARO® automated closing machines, the height of the carton is precisely adjusted to the content.

While rationalizing the number of package formats from 5 to 3, the combination of JIVARO machines with PAC 600 formers offers three advantages:


By using PAC 600® belt and double lid cases, reduces the required surface area of cardboard by 10% compared to US cases (from 2745 to 2439 m² per day). After one year, this represents 35 tons of CO2


While the initial fill rate was 43% in our case (corresponding to the average fill rate observed in e-commerce), the fine height adjustment increases this rate to 78% and makes it possible to eliminate the need for wedging. That is an additional gain of 700 kg of paper per day. This is equivalent to 66 tons of CO2 per year.


Finally, each day nearly 60 m3, i.e. the volume of a truck trailer is saved. Assuming a 100 km round trip to reach the shipping hub, 30,000 km of trucks are avoided per year, i.e. 39 tons of CO2.


This seems obvious. This is in fact what almost everyone does, thinking they’ve sorted the problem through recycling. They’re wrong…Studies by Federec (Federation of Recycling Companies), taken up by ADEME, show that the production of recycled cardboard, though it uses 4 times less energy, emits twice more CO2 than virgin cardboard. This is primarily due to the efficiency of the new cardboard manufacturing processes. If we take into account other parameters such as land use, we can conclude that there is a draw between virgin and recycled cardboard. This reinforces the benefit of limiting the use of cardboard upstream.

Reconciling the environment with human and economic considerations

Beyond the environmental aspects, the reduction in consumption has an economic impact. Thanks to the gains in the surface area of cardboard purchased and the efficiency of the workforce, the return on investment of packaging lines combining PAC600® and Jivaro® machines is of the order of 3 years, while these machines are designed to last more than a decade, with an extremely low number of wear parts. If we estimate a carbon tax of 120 € per ton of CO2 (current value in Sweden), the economic gain linked to GHG emissions is of €170 K over 10 years.

Equally important is customer perception. Over-packaging has no added value from the customer’s point of view.

Worse, while 53% of online sales customers claim to take the environmental aspect into account in their purchases, receiving packages that are half empty or filled with wedges gives a negative view upon receipt. This is particularly true for professionals who must also pay a cost of removal proportional to their volumes of waste.


More than recycling, the best economic and environmental gains are achieved by process optimization, reducing at the source the volume of packaging and the volume to be transported.

For more information on optimizing your logistics, please contact the SAVOYE or MACS teams.

Green logistics: Optimize your packages to reduce the environmental impact of your supply chain

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