At Whisky.Auction we take our environmental responsibility very seriously, and our operations team have put a great deal of time and work into looking at the most environmentally friendly way to operate our business, including how we package and deliver bottles to our customers.
Our main challenge when selecting delivery packaging, is to find a solution that ensures all bottles arrive with our customers in pristine condition while being as environmentally friendly as possible.
Our packaged bottles need to withstand an industry standard drop test which involves them being thrown to the ground from a significant height. This is to replicate the eventualities that can arise in transit and in courier warehouses where they can be thrown, dropped, kicked and rained on!
The other challenge is that we have 10,000 different products and, unlike wine which comes in standard bottle shapes, spirits are bottled in hundreds of different sizes and formats. So unfortunately we cannot produce a standard size packaging that fits every bottle.
As well as the level of protection, we also need to take into account the weight of the materials (and therefore the fuel required to transport them) and the volume/space they take up as these also have an environmental impact.
We have looked at cardboard solutions in great depth, but to date they have been found wanting in terms of protection, especially when wet, they also lack flexibility to different size bottles, and are significantly, much heavier to transport.
Our current Sealed Air solution arrives in a flat roll that we inflate onsite, thus cutting transport costs. It contains 15% recycled materials and is designed to be as light and protective as possible. Its volume decreases by 95% when it is deflated after delivery to the customer. The material can be recycled in the same way as plastic carrier bags at many locations. As this material is adaptable it can also be reused for packaging items again.
We are constantly looking to improve our performance on all environmental issues, so are continuously working with our suppliers to push them to improve in this area. This includes producing a new version of the Sealed Air solution that retains all its current advantages but is much more recyclable. We have also experimented with paper tape for sealing all our shipping boxes, although unfortunately that didn't work so we're going back to the drawing board there!
There are many other environmental initiatives that we have worked on, covering our warehouse materials and machinery, recycling and energy efficient operations at our head office and warehouse, and minimising the environmental impact of our delivery vans.
We have moved our entire business to paperless order processing, have removed all single use plastic from our shows and events, and have introduced a number of energy saving initiatives at our Head Office, including ensuring all our lighting is energy efficient LED.
We are also looking to increase the number of electric car charging points and are looking at the environmental benefits of installing solar panels onto our Head Office roof. We have installed an energy efficient ground source heat pump which has so far enabled us to power the air conditioning across a third of our Head Office. We also recently received an 'Excellent' rating from BREEAM which audits the environmental performance of our buildings. This is something we are very proud of.
We are sharing these examples with you because we want you to know the seriousness with which we take environmental responsibility.
Finally, many thanks to all of our customers and suppliers for all your support and advice on our environmental policies. Please let us know if you have any other questions or feedback.