Customers desiring to be in the program must qualify on three dimensions: damage prevention, right-sizing (cube utilization), and packaging materials (materials content). Each dimension will be rated separately, and customers must pass on all three dimensions to be considered eligible for the program.
1. Damage prevention: Using the industry standard for parcel shipping, shippers are evaluated to ensure that the packaging practices minimize damages. When a product has to be replaced, re-shipped and the original damaged item possibly returned and disposed of, the carbon footprint is multiplied.
How do we evaluate this? We simulate all the conditions and forces a package will encounter on its journey. We perform compression tests, drop tests, vibration and shock tests. Our tests meet ISTA- 3A standards, which calibrate to simulate the small package environment. Each test is accompanied by a comprehensive report including a detailed analysis of the tests performed and recommendations for improvement.
2. Right-sizing: This evaluation means that we determine the best configuration for the secondary, outside package. We also determine the best pallet load configuration for warehousing and shipping. The end result is the best utilization of available space - so customers can ship smaller cartons, or more products in a single carton.
How do we evaluate this? We use a proprietary matrix that determines how much "air" should be allowed in a box. We consider several variables: 1) the durability class of the product shipped (e.g., light bulbs need more protection than a pair of socks), 2) whether the shipper is a case pack or a pick-and-pack operation. Pick and packs involve a larger variety of SKUs, and therefore it is harder to match box size exactly to the contents of any given order.
3. Packaging materials: This evaluation provides a review of shipping materials, such as examining corrugated recycled content, packaging and closure materials. Careful consideration must also be given to the filler material. For example, styrofoam may not be the most sustainable application. Or shredded newspaper, while seen as sustainable, normally will not offer adequate protection for contents.
How do we evaluate this? UPS will evaluate the box and fill materials to determine whether they are the most sustainable while still preventing damages. Common questions asked during the evaluation include: What are the materials created from? Are they bio-degradable? Are they easily recyclable? Are they being reused? What does it take to produce the materials (i.e. the Life Cycle Metrics of the materials)?