I think @Hikes_in_Rain is on the right track: excessive packing is indeed extra waste, but it has to be compared to the waste generated by having stuff break (or even if not broken, I could easily see customers reject an item just because of something like a tiny barely noticeable snag in clothing, a scuff in the paint, or a crease in a paperback book, because they expect it in "new" condition regardless of functionality, so much of what I see at REI Garage Sales is stuff like this) and either that being trashed/recycled or the extra vehicle emissions to ship it back. Or the cost of having to maintain an even greater variety of box sizes to perfectly fit every possible combination of goods. And on and on and on...

Basically seems like it's a balancing act, and the lesser of many more than two evils. I guess I've just resigned myself to hoping that smarter minds than I in logistics know their stuff and that maximizing economic efficiency also aligns with ecologic efficiency, at least roughly.

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