Using eco-friendly packaging materials is one of the biggest things your business can do to be more sustainable. While direct shipping may be convenient for your customers, it can have a harmful impact on the environment. The eCommerce sector used 9.4 million tons of plastic packaging in 2019. That number has likely gone up since then as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and increased demand for direct shipping options.
Using sustainable packaging materials is a great way to reduce your negative impact on the environment, while still offering value and convenience for your customers.
The Rise of Eco-Friendly Packaging in 2021
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many consumers stopped buying from brick-and-mortar retailers and started buying their essentials online instead. Not only was this a safer way to shop, but it was also incredibly convenient. It’s become clear that consumers will continue to want the convenience of online ordering, even as the pandemic begins to subside. While this has many benefits for consumers, the environmental impact of all that extra packaging quickly became a concern.
This led to the rise of eco-friendly packaging this year, starting a trend that will likely continue for the foreseeable future. Climate change and environmental sustainability have been major concerns among consumers. Research suggests that 74 percent of customers would pay more for sustainable packaging. Millennials and Gen Z place a particular emphasis on sustainability and corporate responsibility when shopping. This has prompted several large international brands to re-evaluate their packaging strategies.
One example of a leader in sustainable packaging is Patagonia, a company that has been working to cut down on its packaging waste since 2014. Major clothing companies like H&M and ASOS have started using recycled and recyclable packaging materials as well. The beauty industry is also changing its packaging to become more environmentally sustainable. For example, Ulta now offers refillable packaging options to cut down on waste.
These are just a few notable examples of major companies offering sustainable packaging. This trend is slowly sweeping the entire eCommerce industry. It’s possible that eco-friendly packaging could become standard and expected in just a few years.
What Is Eco-Friendly Packaging?
Eco-friendly packaging is any packaging that reduces your environmental footprint. There are many different types of eco-friendly packaging available. This includes packaging that is easy to reuse or recycle, as well as biodegradable packaging.
Sustainable packaging solutions are also usually made of materials that are healthy for the environment and are typically made with environmentally friendly production technology as well.
Benefits of Eco-Friendly Packaging
The biggest benefit of using eco-friendly packaging materials is that they are better for the planet. Using sustainable materials helps keep our planet healthy and habitable for everyone. However, there are a number of other benefits to using sustainable materials.
They are generally safer for both your customers and employees to interact with, as they contain fewer toxins than traditional packaging materials. They also usually take up less space, making them easier to store and pack. Finally, many of today’s consumers are looking specifically for environmentally friendly packaging. Because of this, an eco-friendly approach can actually boost your sales.
5 Eco-Friendly Packaging Strategies To Use In 2021
eCommerce businesses of any size can use green packaging. Here are five of the best eco-friendly packaging strategies to implement in your business.
Use Plant-Based Packaging Materials
There are many alternatives to traditional packaging that are made of plant-based materials. These plant-based materials are often biodegradable or recyclable. For example, packaging materials made of cornstarch or mushrooms naturally decompose in compost. Organic fabrics like hemp are also a great plant-based alternative to traditional materials.
Share Your Sustainability Practices
If your packaging is designed to be recycled, reused, or composted, make sure to share this with your customers. Including instructions for your packaging maximizes the chances that your customers will use it correctly. Labeling the packaging as recyclable, reusable, or biodegradable can also be very helpful if it does end up in a third-party processing facility.
Avoid Over-Packaging Throughout Your Supply Chain
Before your product even gets to your customers, there’s a good chance it’s been packaged, unwrapped, and re-packaged multiple times. Minimizing packaging throughout your supply chain is a great way to cut down on your environmental impact. Reducing supply chain packaging also makes it much easier for your team to process items for shipment.
To implement this, look for supply chain partners that use sustainable packaging. It’s much easier to streamline your supply chain when you have partners that share your values. An efficient inventory tracking system will also help with this – it will help prevent over-ordering and give you the opportunity to consolidate shipments.
Ship Smaller Packages
Shipping smaller packages is one of the easiest ways to cut down on waste. Smaller packages require much less filler to protect your product. Your customers will likely appreciate having less waste to dispose of as well. Creating smaller package sizes can take some trial and error, but it will likely make the packing process easier in the long run.
Experiment With Different Package Ideas
There are so many unique packaging materials available these days, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Not only are these packaging ideas better for the environment, but you can also use them as a selling point to help your brand stand out from the competition. We’ve already discussed plant-based packaging and biodegradable options, but there are many other unique packaging materials to consider.
If your brand makes food products, you might consider edible packaging options. Another unique idea is plantable packaging, which could pair well with home and garden products. Plantable packaging contains seeds that your customers can use. Finally, consider reusable packaging options that your customers can use as storage or travel bags.
Find The Best Eco-Friendly Packing Strategies For Your Business
With so many eco-friendly packaging options available these days, it’s easier than ever to start shipping sustainably. Working with a third-party logistics partner like Print Bind Ship makes it easy to find the best sustainable packaging options for you. Contact us today for a free quote!