OfficeMax Calls Delivery Cutbacks a "Green" Initiative

Posted by: John Carey on July 24, 2009

Companies have come up with many reasons for cutbacks in service. Saving money. Reducing the need for layoffs. Boosting efficiency.

But here’s a justification rarely heard: Spinning the cutbacks as a ‘green’ initiative.

That’s what OfficeMax has done. In the Washington, DC, area, it announced to customers that “beginning July 13, 2009, OfficeMax fleet trucks will deliver Tuesday – Friday.” Eliminating the Monday delivery will “Lead to a Positive Environmental Impact!” the announcement trumpets: “By compressing 5 delivery days into 4, OfficeMax will improve the metro environment.”

The improvements? Ending Monday deliveries reduces carbon emissions from delivery trucks (and from drivers commuting to work), and brings less traffic congestion. The company figures that just having the drivers stay home, instead of coming to work on Monday, eliminates 60,000 miles of commuting.

The company is rolling out the program nationally this month, with different no-delivery days in different regions. In an email response, spokesman William Bonner says that the company was indeed motivated by environmental concerns. “We identified a program of deferred order delivery, or managed delivery, as a way to reduce vehicle emissions and therefore, to improve our carbon footprint,” he writes. But he also admits that the “program has introduced business efficiencies for OfficeMax and our customers.”

As for the employees, Bonner says that the program has not reduced the number of drivers or drivers’ hours, since many of the drivers will be working 10 hours a day on their four-day work week. But consolidations of distribution centers and staff have resulted in reductions in the number of other employees.

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Reader Comments

Corban

July 24, 2009 03:26 PM

The flipside is that every customer following any kind of inventory model must lock up more cash in larger orders, as opposed to ordering precisely what you need.

Go Green!

July 27, 2009 07:51 PM

What a great initiative. More companies need to be looking at ways to reduce their carbon footprint. This is obviously a forward thinking company that is thinkig of mother earth and not just father wallet! Good for you. Omax will have my business.

Reba

July 30, 2009 08:25 AM

This story is actually about Office Max cutting the salaries of their delivery people by 20%. It's not going too green for them. If anybody thinks this is about being kind to the Earth instead of desperately trying to save money they're an idiot!

Sandy

July 31, 2009 12:44 PM

Go green must be a democrat working on Obama's staff...forward thinking!?!?!

unknownsoldier

July 31, 2009 01:35 PM

While the delivery reduction from a "green" environmental view makes it look like a positive, I wonder if the real impact was to "green" their struggling bottom line.
A company that is not customer driven (and most companies work a 5 day week) will lose in the long term. Many companies are now 24/7 operations. I suspect the lack of flexibility will continue narrow Office Max customer base to the Office Minimum.

Jimbob

July 31, 2009 05:27 PM

If you look at the article, the delivery people salaries are not being reduced, they are still working 40 hours... or 4 day week. Mondays are typically very slow delivery days compared to others so it makes good sense as a way of reducing their carbon footprint and as a money saving intiative.

Buying Toner Today

August 3, 2009 08:32 AM

No wonder why OfficeMax is in Shambles?!?! The customers that suffer are those that don't work only 4 days per week. I sense they may be wrapping things up soon at this rate (and I doubt it will be in a green package)

Amused

August 3, 2009 10:19 AM

All OMAX is going to have to have is a single, key customer demand Monday delivery. Then, all of that drivel about saving money, carbon emissions, commuting miles, etc will go out the window because they will have to accomodate this customer - or lose their business. This is an awful awful idea full opportunities to completely blow up in their faces...which it most likely will. I suspect that we'll soon see an article noting that OMAX has discontinued this program and will be seeking additional ways to be green-friendly...only they wont be as energetically touting it in emails to the press.

Way to go!

August 5, 2009 04:32 PM

This is forward thinking. Drivers still get their 40 hours, companies still get what they need with planning ahead for next day delivery Friday or Tuesday instead of Monday, everyone can accomplish this easily. If you do your homework, you will see comapnies are accomplishing this already with OfficeMax, and OfficeMax is still winning more business than any other competitor.

WOW!

August 6, 2009 08:57 AM

Wow,

I have read this article and the comments. It is clear that the negative comments stated are uneducated ones. I commend a company for trying new initiatives and to lead an industry with focus like this. So many companies our there have no focus on mother earth and its obvious OfficeMax does. 40 hours a day 4 days a week for the drives is no reduction what so ever, infact the driver probably appreciates that extra time while recieving his 40HR pay week. Lastly, when was the time you needed an emergency pencil? I am sure that this company would make emergecny deliveries if needed. It shocks me to read these posts when so many companies out there have not a care in the world for our planet and OfficeMax does. You go OfficeMax!!!

Get Real

August 7, 2009 11:27 AM

Come on! Why don't they get real green and cut back to 3 days, or 2 for that matter. Anyone that does not read this as just a publicity stunt to put a positive spin on a service cutback is terribly naive. What ever happened to customer service? I'm sure that Staples and OD will be laughing all the way to the bank.

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About

BusinessWeek correspondents John Carey and Mark Scott, cover the green scene, keeping on top of the business aspects of energy, the environment and climate change, as well as the technologies, policies, markets and people that are shaping how the earth's resources will be used in the century ahead.

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