December 20, 2014

Eco-Friendly Appliance Packaging

Building a playhouse from an old refrigerator box is a childhood rite of passage.  It’s also one way to reuse a very large cardboard box before it’s recycled, but the major appliance industry is trying to make changes to shipping containers to make them more environmentally friendly.

According to Appliance Magazine, “Appliance packages have to be multitaskers. As the International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) says, packaging has to be survivable, sustainable, and successful.”

The appliance industry has been putting a heavy emphasis on the sustainability of its packaging for decades. In the early 1990s, Appliance Magazine was reporting how producers like Mr. Coffee (now part of Jarden Consumer Solutions) considered recyclability one of its most important packaging concerns. That’s because packaging was one of the starting points of consumer awareness in green issues. A 1991 survey by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) and the Good Housekeeping Institute showed that about two-thirds of consumers would consider switching to a different small appliance brand if their favorite choice wasn’t packaged in recycled or recyclable materials. Today, consumers are more knowledgeable about environmental issues and, more than ever, they’re choosing green products. That includes green packaging.

In the appliance industry there is a broad spectrum of packaging technologies, but Uwe Jonkmanns, division manager and a member of the management of the MSK Covertech Group sees cardboard boxes increasingly being replaced by film packaging. “Household appliances require a high degree of transport safety, stackability, and display effect, all of this as cost-effective as possible for all kinds of measurements,” he explains. “This is the reason the choice of appropriate packaging is crucial for economization of transport-, storage- and material cost, as well as for the presentation result at the point of sale.”

Appliance Sales are Down

Here’s some bad news for appliance dealers (if they haven’t already noticed the effect in their own markets)

 Twice.com reports that according to AHAM (Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers), January shipments of major appliances fell 17 percent to 3.9 million units compared with the 4.7 million major appliances sold during the year-ago period.

Taking the biggest hit was the home-comfort sector, which was dragged down by a nearly 60 percent drop in room air shipments. The decline was only minimally offset by a 2.8 percent increase in dehumidifier sales, AC’s sister category.

The cooking category also felt the heat, down 15.6 percent year-over-year to nearly 1.2 million units. Leading the decline was microwave ovens, off nearly 19 percent in January. Among ranges, ovens and cooktops, gas-fueled models fell 10.7 percent while electric models saw an 11 percent decline last month. Gas cooktops were singed by a 17.2 percent decline, marginally offset by a 1.2 percent increase in gas oven shipments. By contrast, electric cooktops enjoyed a 5.1 percent gain, while shipments of electric ovens dropped 10.6 percent.

Among the other core appliance categories, kitchen cleanup dropped nearly 14 percent to some 808,300 units, food preservation fell nearly 9 percent to approximately 623,700 units and home laundry slipped 3.1 percent to about 964,000 units.

There were, however, several bright spots. Besides the gain in electric cooktops, portable dishwashers saw shipments climb 21.3 percent and wholesale sales of gas clothes dryers were up nearly 6 percent. But among their category counterparts, electric dryers declined 3.1 percent and washing machine shipments were off by 4.5 percent, to about 519,300 units. Similarly, shipments of build-in dishwashers declined 7.8 percent, disposers fell 19.4 percent and compactors dropped 19.5 percent.

Within food preservation, refrigerator shipments declined 8.8 percent to some 513,700 units while freestanding freezers fell 9.5 percent, led by a 12.7 percent decline in chest-style models.

Summarizing the month is the AHAM 6, an amalgam of the industry’s core washer, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, freezer, range and oven categories. Factory shipments for that grouping fell 7 percent in January, to 2.4 million units.