Sustainable ecommerce packaging for your business guide, Building Design Tips, Online Advice
Sustainable eCommerce Packaging for Your Business
3 Jun 2021
The subject of packaging is a controversial issue we need to consider when operating an eCommerce store. Many customers have been frustrated with the amount of excess and unsustainable packaging they receive on mail order products. You can change that experience and give them a frustration-free result when they unbox your products.
When boxing up a product to send it off in the post, we think bubble wrap, polystyrene, and plastic air pillows.
The good news is we don’t have to choose unsustainable and conventional packaging products anymore. There are innovations in packaging that provide us with sustainable options. Considering sustainability in your eCommerce practices contributes to a liveable planet and reduces rubbish going into landfill., So why not ditch the old plastic fillers, satchels, parcels and wraps and choose packaging that is recyclable, biodegradable, compostable and sustainable?
Sustainable eCommerce Packaging for Your Company
What can you do to become sustainable?
Whether you sell products online or from a brick and mortar store, it is worthwhile to take stock of the types of packaging you use in the sale of your products. Protection from damage and avoiding returns is an important consideration but so is the type of packaging and whether it is recyclable or biodegradable.
The answers to the following questions may help you understand your packaging habits with an aim for your eCommerce packaging to become more sustainable.
- Are you using too much material in your packing? For example, are you placing small objects inside a large carton filled with void fill?
- Are you using the right sized carton or mailer bag for the job?
- Do you use bubble wrap, if so, did you know there are biodegradable alternatives?
- Can you replace plastic void fill with more sustainable paper products to protect your wares from damage?
- Can you use alternatives to cellophane tapes such as paper-based tapes to seal your cartons?
- Where in your supply chain can you reduce the amount of packaging without compromising the integrity of your products during freight?
- Does your packaging optimise recycled material in its makeup?
- Is your packaging easily recyclable in the home waste stream for your customers?
- Is the manufacture of your packaging products safe for the environment? Can you find out if harsh chemicals and excessive use of water is part of the manufacturing process? Does the manufacturer dispose of waste responsibly?
Once you have defined the sustainability issues in your processes, you can search for alternatives to lift your businesses green credentials.
When judging the sustainability of packaging material, the impact on each stage of its lifecycle is relevant.
- The source of raw materials for making paper products – is it sustainably sourced and meets the FSC certification?
- The processing of raw materials – does it use high amounts of energy, chemicals and water to treat?
- Manufacture of paper products – does it incorporate a reasonably high percentage of recycled materials?
- Natural products – are they made from organic material that is sustainably farmed?
- Factory conditions – are the workers fairly paid with safe conditions?
- Transportation of the manufactured product – can you source it locally?
- Recycling, disposing and decay of the product at end of life – is it easy to compost or recycle for customers?
eCommerce needs to play a part
There has been a huge shift in online shopping in the last few years which has increased freight and postage in the supply chain. eCommerce has always been a culprit when it comes to packaging waste and the time for unsustainable and non-recyclable packaging is over. Our landfills are full of packaging waste and the Australian government has committed that no packaging will go to landfill by 2025. Since China has banned the import of Australian recycling waste to their country, the deadline has been set for our packaging waste to be 100% recycled.
Taking the eco-conscious approach
It is up to each business to set out their sustainability goals with an aim to achieve determined priorities within an appointed time frame. Planning a transition into 100% sustainable packaging within an achievable date and consistently implement measures to achieve this goal is what is required.
Fortunately, this is a possibility as there are plenty of sustainable packaging options available at affordable cost. Let your customers know you care about the environment and are making the effort not to burden them with unsustainable plastic or polystyrene packaging when they open your parcels.
Cardboard boxes make up most of the material used in freight and fortunately, they are made up of recycled material. Paper void fill, custom cardboard cut outs and moulded pulp are used as the internal material for goods protection. The benefit to customers is they can place the carton and fillers straight into the recycle bin without having to segregate them.
The paper products used are made from a combination of recycled material and wood pulp from sustainably managed forests. Cardboard and paper products can be composted down which gives them biodegradable credentials.
Because the goods we ship to our clients need to be protected from moisture and tearing, most of the packaging we use is plastic. But plastic is hard to recycle and is made from petrochemicals. The freight industry is responsible for tonnes of plastic ending up in landfill, oceans and waterways.
The solution is bioplastics made from polylactic acid. It is compostable plastic made from synthetic alternatives in sugarcane, cassava and corn-starch. It can be cut up and added to the home composter to break down into harmless humous for the garden.
Polystyrene filler can be replaced with material made from mushroom mycelium, packing peanuts made from corn starch and box stuffing made from Kraft paper, newsprint and tissue paper. Corn starch is water-soluble and will break down in the home composter and the same can be said for mushroom packaging.
Add sustainability to your brand
As you can see, there are plenty of choices when it comes to sustainable packaging for an eCommerce business. Innovations in packaging are emerging all the time. Customers are willing to spend that little bit more for sustainable alternatives. If you peddle credible products that people are willing to buy, then why not add that extra sustainable touch to your packaging and freight? It will only benefit your branding and bring return customers to your business.
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