W.B. Mason Reusable Tote Pilot

BU Sourcing & Procurement is working with W.B. Mason to roll out a reusable tote program for the delivery of office supplies on campus, following a successful pilot earlier this summer. The goal of the program is to reduce the amount of waste created from cardboard packaging. Sourcing & Procurement is committed to waste reduction efforts as outlined in the BU Climate Action Plan.

The 4-week pilot, which began in late May, included Earth & Environment, Dean of Students Office, Physiology and Biophysics, Comptroller’s Office, Loans and Collections, General Accounting, Faculty Services, and Facilities Management & Planning. The second cohort of the program will include Sourcing & Procurement, College of General Studies, Environmental Health and Safety, Continuing Medical Education, Agganis Arena, Athletics, Parking & Transportation Services, Center for Professional Education, the Evergreen program, and Educational Resource Center.

W.B. Mason’s drivers will still deliver items to each location, but the process for tote delivery is a bit different than with cardboard boxes. If there is someone able to receive the delivery, the driver will take the items out and bring the tote back with them. If there is no one available to receive the delivery, the driver will leave the tote and pick it up upon their next delivery. When totes are left behind, drivers will keep a record so that W.B. Mason can better understand the logistics of the program before it is rolled out more broadly.

At the moment, not all deliveries are available to be delivered in reusable totes. Same-day deliveries will still be delivered in cardboard packaging. In addition, some items are drop shipped from a wholesaler to W.B. Mason, and these items will still be delivered in their original cardboard packaging. W.B. Mason says they are working on making same-day deliveries part of the program in the future as well as resolving the issue with packaging for wholesale items.

Office Services Administrator Rachelle Regan, whose department participated in the pilot, says the program has not only been successful, but simple.

“The reusable tote program has been fantastic thus far, we have had many orders seamlessly delivered. More often than not, I have been able to receive the orders and empty the totes at delivery, but we’ve also had a couple orders delivered in my absence, and even though I was not there to accept the order, the delivery totes were left and simply collected the next time. This program has cut down our cardboard recycling by at least 80%!”

Since the program began, it has saved about 350 cardboard boxes and bags, according to Sourcing Specialist Greg King. Based on data collected during the pilot period, the program has the potential to save more than 4,600 packages a year.

“That number truly speaks to the cardboard problem that we have,” says King, “I am looking forward to seeing these numbers jump as we add more departments onto the program.”

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