(Gus Lubin / Business Insider)
I recently ordered two small boxes of butter to get my cart over $35 to qualify for free shipping on Jet.com. I wouldn’t have done it if I knew they would ship the butter on its own, in a big cardboard box, stuffed with two large, plastic-wrapped insulation pads, 20 feet of paper, and three ice packs.
It turns out I'm not alone: Wall Street Journal’s Brian Baskin complained about similarly excessive packaging for his Jet shipment of a single-serve yogurt.
Shipping waste is, of course, a much larger problem in the on-demand economy. Indeed, 35 million tons of containerboard were produced in 2014 in the US, reports the New York Times, with e-commerce companies among the fastest-growing users.
Still, Jet faces some unique challenges. The Amazon competitor, which launched last year and was acquired by Walmart in August for $3 billion, distributes fresh items through national carriers like Fedex, while Amazon and others use their own vehicles. In short, that means it needs to provide more robust packaging.
Jet says it's working on reducing packaging for its Fresh program, which is currently available only in parts of the Northeast. In the near-term, it plans to move to a larger warehouse for Fresh items, allowing more shipping options. It also plans to expand its selection and provide deals to encourage people to make larger orders. The company is experimenting with new shipping options, including coolers that come with return shipping labels, and has recently hired a packaging engineer.
"Part of the reason we are being so deliberate about the pilot … is because our goal actually is to scale this pretty quickly," says Liza Landsman, Jet’s chief customer officer.
Jet wouldn't comment on how the Walmart acquisition might change things.
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