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Case study: How FedEx promotes more efficient packaging

FedEx operates in over 220 countries and territories around the world, serving millions of FedEx customers every day. Connecting people and possibilities around the globe, FedEx aims to do so responsibly and resourcefully, by multiplying efficiencies and innovations that deliver more with fewer resources and environmental impacts.

This case study is based on the 2018 Global Citizenship Report by FedEx published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ ESG/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.

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Finding new ways to engage team members and customers in initiatives for more responsible, efficient packaging, right-sizing customer packaging to maximise space and optimise loads, is a top priority for FedEx  Tweet This!. In order to promote more efficient packaging FedEx took action to:

  • increase recycled packaging
  • implement dimensional weight pricing
  • help customers right-size their packaging

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2018 Global Citizenship Report FedEx identified a range of material issues, such as driver and workplace safety, ethics, bribery and corruption, data security and privacy, business preparedness, resiliency and disaster response. Among these, promoting more efficient packaging stands out as a key material issue for FedEx.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The reporting organization shall identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations and interests.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups FedEx engages with:  

Stakeholder Group
Customers
Industry groups
Investors
Sustainability experts
Nonprofits
Government agencies
Team members

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritise material topics, FedEx engaged with external stakeholders through a survey and roundtable engagement session.

What actions were taken by FedEx to promote more efficient packaging?

In its 2018 Global Citizenship Report FedEx reports that it took the following actions for promoting more efficient packaging:

  • Increasing recycled packaging
  • FedEx branded packaging – envelopes and corrugated boxes provided to customers and used to secure shipments in transit – makes up FedEx’s largest volume of material used. To minimise the potential for wasted packaging, FedEx works thoroughly to make sure packages are delivered free of any damage that could lead to a return and replacement. Most importantly, as the number of global shipments continues to grow, so does the volume of recycled packaging FedEx uses. In FY17, by working closely with suppliers, FedEx sourced approximately 3,300 more metric tons of recycled packaging than in FY16, focusing on increasing recycled content.
  • Implementing dimensional weight pricing
  • Engaging and supporting its customers in shipping packages more efficiently, is a key sustainability priority for FedEx. To achieve this goal, FedEx Express and FedEx Ground apply what is known as dimensional, or dim, weight pricing. This is a practice that sets the transportation price based on package volume – the amount of space a package occupies in relation to its actual weight – with dim weight calculated by using a package’s length, width and height. This approach enables FedEx to make the best use of space in its aircraft, vehicles and distribution centres, improves loading efficiency for planes, trucks
and vans, and reduces associated emissions. Additionally, dim weight pricing encourages customers to make packaging adjustments that maximise product density and reduce paper, corrugated board and filler materials, to support the sustainability of their operations.
  • Helping customers right-size their packaging
  • Optimising package size and design can reduce costs for FedEx’s customers, and minimise environmental impacts. Hence, FedEx Packaging Services offers custom engineering guidance and on-site support to commercial customers who seek to right-size their packaging. FedEx’s specialty engineers assess existing packaging and recommend more efficient designs, followed by laboratory performance testing to make sure the redesigned packaging meets customers’ needs with just the right amount of material. Customers submit a sample package including all the packaging materials and contents in the exact configuration they want to use, FedEx tests the package for strength, integrity and durability, and provides results in 4 to 5 business days. During FY17, the FedEx Packaging Lab carried out over 5,000 small parcel tests and 324 freight tests, and FedEx’s engineers completed almost 2,000 on-site customer consultations, providing 63 new designs to improve customer packaging, protect against product damage and offer dim weight savings.

Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?

The GRI Standards addressed in this case are:

1) Disclosure 301-1 Materials used by weight or volume

2) Disclosure 301-2 Recycled input materials used

 

Disclosure 301-1 Materials used by weight or volume corresponds to:

Disclosure 301-2 Recycled input materials used corresponds to:

 

80% of the world’s 250 largest companies report in accordance with the GRI Standards

SustainCase was primarily created to demonstrate, through case studies, the importance of dealing with a company’s most important impacts in a structured way, with use of the GRI Standards. To show how today’s best-run companies are achieving economic, social and environmental success – and how you can too.

Research by well-recognised institutions is clearly proving that responsible companies can look to the future with optimism.



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By registering for the next 2-day FBRH GRI-Standards Certified and IEMA approved Course you will be taking the first step in gaining the many benefits of sustainability reporting.

 

References:

1) This case study is based on published information by FedEx, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:

http://database.globalreporting.org/

2) http://www.fbrh.co.uk/en/global-reporting-initiative-gri-g4-guidelines-download-page

3) https://g4.globalreporting.org/Pages/default.aspx

4) https://www.globalreporting.org/standards/gri-standards-download-center/

Note to FedEx: With each case study we send out an email requesting a comment on this case study. If you have not received such an email please contact us.

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