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What Is Carbon Neutral Shipping?

Perhaps you’re concerned about your company’s environmental impact, or maybe you need to satisfy customer demand for carbon-neutral shipping materials and procedures. 

Either way, you want to lower your carbon footprint and embrace a greener way to get your products into consumers’ hands. That’s great! But how can you make it happen? There’s no “go green” button in your warehouse, so you’ll have to do some planning if you want to embrace carbon offset shipping.

How Does Carbon Neutral Shipping Work?

The crux of carbon-neutral shipping, and the carbon-neutral definition everyone agrees upon, is reducing carbon output to the point where your company’s operations don’t add any extra greenhouse gases to the environment. 

To achieve a state where your company’s shipping procedures and materials don’t add to your carbon output, you’ll need to switch to recycled and recyclable materials, use bioplastics instead of petroleum-based plastics, reduce packaging, and place inventory in distribution centers close to customers. 

Why Go Carbon Neutral?

Because shipping can be an incredibly wasteful process, it’s a great planet-saving endeavor to make it as eco-friendly as possible. Using recycled materials means reducing the need to harvest new materials. Offsetting carbon emissions balances your greenhouse gas output with investments in environmental projects. 

Eco-conscious consumers will be more willing to order your products if they know that your company is reducing its impact on the planet. In some cases, going to carbon-neutral shipping can be cheaper!

How to Reduce Carbon Emissions from Shipping

If you’re ready to do your part for the earth and satisfy the increasing demand for eco-friendly shipping, here’s the path to follow.

Determine Your Carbon Footprint

You might have heard about Scopes 1, 2, and 3 when companies calculate their carbon footprints. Here’s what each Scope means.

Scope 1

This scope is your company’s direct emissions. This is all of the fuel you use in your daily operations, whether at your facility or in company vehicles.

Scope 2

Scope 2 consists of all of the electricity your business uses, as well as heat or steam for heating and cooling.

Scope 3

This scope encompasses the impacts employees have on the environment through their commute or business travel, all purchased goods and services, and waste production.

Each of these metrics carries an average CO2 emission, allowing businesses to calculate their carbon footprint for a given period. Once you have your CO2 emissions recorded, you can use online carbon footprint calculators or hire an outside company to crunch your numbers.

Use Recycled and Recyclable Packing Materials

Not only do you want to use as many recycled and recyclable materials as you can, but you also want to make it as easy for the customer to recycle your packaging as possible. Give clear instructions on packages if any materials need to be separated, and make it possible to separate them.

Paper

This is one of the simplest materials to recycle, and it can be purchased cheaply.

Cardboard

Like paper, cardboard is easily recyclable. Also like paper, you (and customers) should know that once it’s gotten wet, it can’t be recycled.

Bioplastics

Instead of petroleum-based plastics, bioplastics are derived from plants. They can be composted with little effort.

Inflatable Packaging

Both inflatable air pillows and corrugated bubble wrap can be sourced from recycled materials. Usually, they can be recycled themselves. Because they’re mostly air, there’s less material used.

Biodegradable Plastics

Whether they’re sourced from petroleum or plants, biodegradable plastics are designed to break down when exposed to light or heat.

Reusable Materials

Essentially, you can give customers added value by delivering products in reusable packaging. The packaging should be made from eco-friendly materials, too. This packaging could be reusable and resealable bags, for instance. You might include freezer packs for food deliveries that can be reused.

Metals

Metal is relatively easy to recycle because it can be melted down and reused over and over nearly infinitely.

Minimize Overall Packaging

Shipping a tiny item in a large box is wasteful in terms of materials and cost. Keeping packages as small as possible: 

  • Reduces the amount of space taken up in delivery vehicles
  • Reduces the weight of the package
  • Lowers shipping costs
  • Keeps the customer from having to handle more material than they need to 

Minimizing packaging reduces costs (and frustration) across the board.

Avoid Single-Use Plastic When Possible

When plastic can only be used once and then must be thrown away, there’s a missed opportunity on the part of the shipper. For instance, plastic bubble wrap tends to get popped, and then it’s just a useless plastic sheet. Alternatives include scrunched-up kraft paper and corrugated bubble wrap. Not only are they recyclable, but they are also able to be reused. 

Even if you’re using all eco-friendly packaging but your product itself uses lots of single-use plastic, that’s still an area where you’re creating waste. Look for ways to make your products use less single-use plastic, too. 

Split Inventory to Multiple Fulfillment Centers

Having your products in fulfillment centers close to where customers live is a win all around. The products don’t have to travel as far, which reduces your shipping costs and carbon emissions. Customers also receive the products faster than they would have otherwise.

Purchase Carbon Offsets

Carbon offsets are credits that companies can purchase to balance their emissions with reductions made by verifiable climate projects. Each credit represents a specific amount of CO2 that your chosen project will eliminate. By purchasing carbon credits, you can offset your company’s greenhouse gas emissions and reduce your carbon footprint.

Help the Environment and Win Customers with Print Bind Ship

Using less packaging and establishing a network of fulfillment centers can be tough. Having Print Bind Ship do that work for you is easy! We take care of the inventory, the packaging, and the shipping so you don’t have to. 

Print Bind Ship operates globally, and we know how to make customers and businesses happy. You get more sustainable shipping, and your customers get the peace of mind that you’re doing your part to help the environment. Contact Print Bind Ship today!

FAQ

What Is Carbon-Offset Shipping?

Carbon offset shipping eliminates more carbon emissions than it produces. This can be achieved by purchasing carbon credits, which support programs that reduce carbon emissions around the world.

Is USPS Carbon Neutral?

No, but they have reduced carbon emissions by more than 30% over the last twenty years, and that number is expected to grow dramatically over the next ten years.

How Do You Know If You Are Carbon Neutral?

By adding up the carbon emissions from all aspects of a company’s operations, the average CO2 use can be calculated. If there is no net production of carbon dioxide, then a business is carbon neutral.