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OfficeMax invests $1M to tackle e-commerce packaging waste

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Posted by Maddison Brown on 18 Nov 2021

n3 Supplier OfficeMax has invested $1M to tackle packaging waste and other sustainability initiatives. You may have seen in the news that OfficeMax has taken some huge steps to invest in new technologies, meaning that ultimately there is less waste ending up in landfill.

  • Every week, more than 45,000 packages leave OfficeMax’s two Distribution Centres (DCs) 
  • New box-making technology is set to radically reduce the packaging of freighted products, including eliminating the use of plastic “void fillers”, removing more than 1,700 kgs of plastic from landfill annually
  • A $5 million investment into its DCs to help future-proof its operations, including the installation of solar panels and 100% electrification of its mechanical handling fleet.

Sustainability has been a key part of OfficeMax’s strategy for two decades. They met their 2026 GHG efficiency target of 20% reduction per FTE six years early in 2019.

OfficeMax is making considerable progress towards its more ambitious 2025 GHG target of a 25% reduction against 2019 Scope 1 and 2 emissions[1]. While both the closure of retail stores and COVID-19 restricting business travel played a part in OfficeMax achieving a 13% reduction last year, its investment into its distribution centres has made a measurable difference, including:

1. Waste (contributed 13% to OfficeMax's Greenhouse Gas Emissions in 2020)

With online shopping at record rates, many will be familiar with the onslaught of packaging and waste that seems to come with even the smallest online purchase. Oversized boxes, excessive filling and plastic all have a negative impact on the environment.

OfficeMax Managing Director Kevin Obern says, "packaging is a top concern amongst our customers and this year, we have continued to receive questions about what else we can do to reduce the use of plastic in our packaging.
"That's why in our North Island DC, we have invested $1M into two innovative, automated 'box maker' and lid applicator machines, specifically designed to minimise packaging and waste."

A New Zealand first from Sealed Air, the machines use smart technology to create unique boxes custom-designed to fit individual orders' contents, removing the need for excess packaging. In Auckland and Christchurch, OfficeMax has also invested in cardboard shredders or void-fill shredder machines that recycle cardboard onsite. The initiatives will reduce plastic void-fill by 100%, eliminating 1.7M plastic pillows (the equivalent to 1,700 kgs of plastic) from landfill every year.

2. Electricity (contributed 25% to OfficeMax’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions in 2020)

“Electricity use makes up 25 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions profile, so we are continually looking into ways we can reduce our consumption and become smarter in the way we operate,” says Kevin.

As part of its plans to address Greenhouse Gas Emissions from electricity, OfficeMax has installed 798 solar panels on top of its Auckland distribution centre, providing sustainable energy efficiency across the site. As of June 2021, the site is already using 26% self-generated power from these panels.


3. LPG (contributed 11% to OfficeMax’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions in 2020)

 OfficeMax has retired all LPG-powered equipment from its fleet and now has 60 electric mechanical handling machines across its two distribution centres to help reduce carbon emissions.
Kevin adds: “This significant change in our fleet has enabled a cleaner environment within the distribution centre and means we can also use some of the energy generated from the installation of our solar panels to power the electric machinery in the distribution centre.”
OfficeMax has recently released their 2020 Sustainability Report. To view the Report, click here.

[1] Scope 1 covers direct emissions from sources such as petrol, LPG, natural gas, and refrigerants. Scope 2 covers indirect emissions sources such as electricity.


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