Thousands of small business owners have signed a petition calling for Australia Post to stop “penalising” businesses that choose to use their own packaging when sending parcels.
More than 5000 people have now signed the petition from Hero Packaging, which claims recent changes in the way Australia Post measures packages are effectively forcing small businesses to use Australia Post’s pre-paid plastic satchels instead of more environmentally friendly options, which are incurring higher postage costs.
The changes came into effect on November 1 and relate to a new scanning and measurement system used by Australia Post for parcels sent by MyPost Business customers.
According to Hero Packaging co-founder Anaita Sarkar, it means small businesses that choose to use non-Australia Post packaging are paying up to between $6-$10 extra per parcel.
However, SmartCompany understands Australia Post has now temporarily stopped using a new automated system for detecting underpaid postage across all parcels, regardless of what packaging they are in, during the busy holiday season.
Hero Packaging supplies compostable mailers to approximately 40,000 small businesses, the vast majority of which are located in Australia and use Australia Post to send their parcels because it is the only centralised, national delivery network.
Sarkar tells SmartCompany she was motivated to start the petition after the team received “hundreds” of emails from customers telling them about how their cost of shipping had recently increased.
After contacting Australia Post for clarification, Hero Packaging initially thought the change would only affect MyPost Business customers who had been incorrectly packing their parcels. However, Sarkar says it soon became clear more small businesses were affected.
It adds further pressure to these businesses, which are already dealing with extended delivery delays during unprecedented online shopping demand, and following an immensely challenging two years of trade during the pandemic.
“They have built in their margins based on the original costs,” explains Sarkar.
Small businesses have shared some of their experiences in the comment section on the petition, and on Hero Packaging’s Instagram posts.
“As a micro business owner who’s trying to ship goods in the most environmentally friendly way possible, these changes are not in line with my business ethics, nor should they be in line with Australia Post’s,” said one person who signed the petition.
“As a small business owner, I absorb the cost too. Aus Post literally makes millions in revenue & they still try to punish us small guys,” said another.
One business owner said her business ships small parcels that weigh between 500g and 5kg, and it was recently charged $40 to send a parcel via Express post in the business’ own eco-friendly packaging. However, the cost would have dropped to $20 if the business had chosen to send the same parcel in an Australia Post plastic satchel.
“Why are businesses being charged more for doing the right thing, and why isn’t Australia Post doing their bit for the environment?” the business owner asked.
Australia Post says prices haven’t changed
A spokesperson for Australia Post told SmartCompany the mail carrier has not introduced any packaging or pricing changes, or penalties for customers using their own packaging. However, Australia Post says prices may be higher for customers using their own packaging if their parcels are large or unusually shaped.
Australia Post charges a national flat rate price for parcels of up to 5kg in weight, said the spokesperson, while parcels above this weight are priced depending on the item’s dimensions, weight and destination.
The packaging and flat rates for these smaller items under 5kg were introduced in 2019 and are designed to allow parcels to be shipped faster and more efficiently.
“For customers using their own packaging, Australia Post will charge on the greater of cubic or deadweight,” added the spokesperson.
“Most items sent with Australia Post are charged the same regardless of packaging type, however, if an item is quite large or unusually shaped, the price may be higher when using your own packaging.”
The petition coincides with Australia Post announcing it has now begun using electric trucks across its delivery network, as part of broader efforts to reduce its carbon footprint.
Sarkar from Hero Packaging says Australia Post should be taking a similar approach to the parcels that are sent through its network by encouraging small business customers to use environmentally friendly packaging.
“I think Australia Post at this point didn’t think about the planet or small businesses,” she says in reference to the new parcel measurement system.
“They have thought about their business model and how they can make a profit at the expense of small business.”
Australia Post does offer compostable packaging options from some of its retail outlets, and its plastic satchels and parcel boxes are recyclable and made with recycled content.
Sarkar would like to see Australia Post scrap the new measurement system altogether and allow businesses to use whatever packaging they choose to, without being penalised.
“We understand that there are delays and that shipping rates might increase, but it should be fair. Businesses shouldn’t be penalised for using sustainable packaging; it should be encouraged.”
This story was first published on SmartCompany, and has been republished with permission.