OfficeMax unveils major initiatives as part of 2025 Sustainability Strategy

OfficeMax invests $1M to tackle e-commerce packaging waste with box-making technology alongside other major initiatives.

OfficeMax has unveiled three major initiatives underway as part of an ambitious 2025 Sustainability Strategy to address the top contributors to its Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) – and help play its part in speeding up New Zealand’s transition to a low carbon future.

Since 2016, OfficeMax has been tracking its environmental footprint, in an effort to achieve its 2026 GHG efficiency target of 20 per cent reduction per FTE six years early, back in 2019.

OfficeMax is making considerable progress towards its more ambitious 2025 GHG target of a 25 per cent 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 per cent reduction last year, it’s investment into its distribution centres has made a measurable difference, including:

1. Waste (contributed 13 per cent to OfficeMax’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions in 2020)

With online shopping at record rates[2], 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.

Kevin Obern, managing director of OfficeMax said packaging is a top concern amongst customers and this year the company has continued to receive questions about what else it can do to reduce the use of plastic in its packaging.

“That’s why in our North Island DC we have invested $1M into two innovative, automated ‘box making’ and lid applicator machines, specifically designed to minimise packaging and waste.”

A New Zealand first, the machines use smart technology to create unique boxes custom-designed to fit to the contents of individual orders, 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, converting it into void fill to protect delicate, fragile or dangerous goods while removing the need for plastic pillows.

The initiatives will reduce plastic void-fill by 100 per cent, eliminating 1.7 million plastic pillows (the equivalent to 1700 kgs of plastic) from landfill every year.

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

“Electricity use makes up 25 per cent 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,” said Obern.

“Over the past two years, the Auckland and Christchurch distribution centres have undergone a significant transformation to advance OfficeMax’s sustainability goals and align with the values of our customers.”

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.

Projections estimated that the panels would provide 22.5 per cent of the site’s power, but as of June 2021 the site is already using 26 per cent self-generated power from these panels.

Solar panels on the roof at OfficeMax HQ DC in Auckland. Photograph by Brett Phibbs / PhibbsVisuals

3. LPG (contributed 11 per cent  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.

“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.”

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[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.
[2] NZ Post’s 2021 e-commerce research highlights that online shopping in New Zealand increased about 25 per cent last year – with Kiwis spending more than $5.8 billion.

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