Packaging is one of the most crucial parts of e-commerce brands. It's a frequently encountered element that greatly affects your customers. For your e-commerce brand, shipping is necessary to transport your goods from one point to another. If you mess this up, you can anger your customers.
Because of COVID-19, e-commerce is growing at a rapid rate. In just 2022, the sales exceeded around $5.4 trillion.
But there's one big problem with it, which is packaging waste. It can affect the environment, which is extremely disastrous.
When e-commerce sales increase, there is a high demand for such solutions. And the materials used in these are not good for the planet. So what should you do in this regard? What's the solution to this problem?
To reverse the problem, choose options that don't harm the planet. Is there any option for that?
There are many sustainable packaging options for your e-commerce business. In this blog, we will discuss some of the best options you can adopt in your business. You can also play your part to reduce carbon emissions and attract many eco-conscious buyers.
So let's learn about this in detail.
What Is Sustainable E-commerce Packaging?
Sustainable e-commerce packaging refers to using environment-friendly materials and practices in online packaging and shipping products. It is also known as eco-friendly or environmentally friendly packaging.
It has a small carbon footprint, little plastic, and less environmental impact. If you want to use this approach, remember 3 R's. According to this concept, you should use the following:
Materials that are = Reusable + Recyclable → Reduce material usage
It'll reduce waste and pollution. Let's understand this in more detail.
- Recyclable: These materials are safe for both individuals and the environment. They are sourced from renewable, preferably biodegradable materials, with a production process that minimizes the use of harmful substances.
- Reuse: Promoting the use of materials that can be reused is a key strategy to solve the problem of single-use packaging, particularly the environmental issues associated with single-use plastics.
- Reduce: In addition to employing recyclable and reusable materials, your eCommerce operations should focus on reducing the overall consumption of materials, which can lead to cost savings.
When using this approach, you are considering the product's entire life cycle. Where are you sourcing it from? What is the process the manufacturer uses? Disposal process and how to reuse it?
Hence, packaging isn't just a way to send your product to customers. It's about creating a larger impact on your audience.
Categories Of Eco-friendly Packaging
To get started, you should know about the basic categories of this approach. Every category has a different purpose and makes your product stand out uniquely.
If you have an e-commerce brand or an online seller running a business on the D2C model, then the first two categories are of extreme importance to you. These three categories are as follow:
It is the basic packaging category that has direct contact with your product. Its innermost layer is connected with the product. But why?
It's to preserve the contents of the product from any harmful exposure. It also eliminates the chances of tampering or contamination.
The best examples are plastic paper, juices, lotions, ointments, etc.
It's for the end user, and that's why it's referred to as a consumer unit. Besides visual appeal and increasing your branding, it is also used to convey the product's information. It includes information like size, weight, specs, expiry date, and many other important things.
This layer of packaging is after the primary package. It groups similar products as a stock-keeping unit (SKU). A SKU may consist of items in groups of ten, twelve, or twenty. These are typically contained within a single unit, such as a:
- Corrugated cardboard box
The most commonly used is cardboard packaging. This package is extremely strong with an additional layer of protection. It has a high ability to withstand products that are bulky or heavy.
Now, your items are grouped into SKUs. They are ready to be transported from warehouses to retail locations or your end customers. It is used to bundle units into larger quantities.
For example, multiple cardboard boxes or crates are shrink-wrapped together. This will optimize container space on a pallet. But is there any other significance?
This form is crucial for securely transporting and storing bulky or heavy goods. It is primarily designed for transportation and is commonly referred to as transit packaging.
Now that you know basic categories, you should evaluate which form is best for your business model. Then, choose the most eco-friendly option.
Difference Between Sustainable & Conventional E-commerce Packaging
You might wonder what's wrong with traditional packaging. Why can't I keep using it?
To clear up this confusion, here is a table of differentiation between both of them so you can understand them better.
Sustainable Ecom Packagings
Conventional Ecom Packagings
Biodegradable or recyclable materials are sourced responsibly.
May use non-recyclable and non-biodegradable materials.
It aims to minimize packaging waste, using the least amount necessary.
Often results in excessive packaging and generates more waste material.
Often utilizes eco-friendly production processes and minimizes toxins.
It can involve resource-intensive and toxic production methods.
Focuses on reducing the carbon footprint and environmental impact.
It can contribute to pollution and resource depletion.
Encourages customers to recycled materials or reuse them responsibly.
Do not include information on eco-friendly disposal.
7 Examples Of Sustainable E-commerce Packaging & Eco-Friendly Materials
You can adopt many methods in your e-commerce business to reduce environmental impact. However, packaging is among the most basic methods. There is a wide variety of these eco-friendly alternatives.
Here is a list of seven options that you can use for your packages.
1. Biodegradable Packing Peanuts
If you want to focus on your carbon footprint impact while keeping your product safe, then biodegradable packing peanuts are an ideal option for your packaging.
You might have used traditional Styrofoam peanuts. But these packing peanuts are different from them and are considered an alternative to Styrofoam peanuts. They are made of natural materials such as:
- Potato starch
But what's the difference between organic packing peanuts and regular packing peanuts?
The biggest difference is that organic packing peanuts can dissolve quickly. Due to this, they can decompose within weeks.
As per information provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the utilization of biodegradable packing peanuts has the potential to decrease waste by over 70%.
2. Cardboard and Paper-based
These are widely used in boxing or packing for e-commerce businesses. You might already know that both materials are easy to recycle and biodegradable. Due to this, it's an amazing choice for your business if you want to play your part in reducing pollution.
In research conducted by the American Forest & Paper Association, it was reported that in 2018, approximately 93% of corrugated cardboard was successfully recycled. It shows how effective these materials are in waste reduction.
Paper tape is also used for paper-based boxing or packing. But how?
They work as a replacement for traditional plastic tapes.
Stone paper, also known as rock paper or mineral paper, is a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional pulp-based paper. It is produced using a unique manufacturing process that primarily involves:
- Calcium carbonate (80-85%) derived from limestone or marble waste
- Blended with a small amount of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) resin (15-20%).
Do you know why?
Because it doesn't require the use of trees, which helps to reduce deforestation.
Instead, it relies on abundant mineral resources, such as limestone or marble waste, that would otherwise go unused.
3. Recycled Solutions
It is another eco-friendly alternative for your products. Many businesses use post-consumer recycled (PCR) materials. They contribute to the elimination of plastic waste that's in landfills and pollutes the oceans.
Some of the options you can use are corrugated bubble wrap and plastic bags. These are made from PCR material. However, always check their license or certifications when choosing recycled plastic packaging.
High PCR percentage = Higher chances of sustainability.
Another material that you should know is PCW. It is also known as post-consumer waste content paper labels. But what does it mean?
Basically, this refers to labels or paper products that are made entirely from recycled materials. Yes, everything is made from recycled materials.
These are materials that have already been used and discarded by consumers. Using post-consumer waste content in paper products is an environmentally responsible practice because it reduces the demand for virgin materials and minimizes waste in landfills.
At Altro Labels, we highly regard eco-friendly practices. So, if you care about the environment and want to play their part, we can help you.
4. Reusable Solutions
There are plenty of online businesses and e-commerce brands to stand out. You have to do something unique.
Offering innovative solutions that serve multiple purposes allows businesses to reduce waste and cater to environmentally aware consumers significantly.
Packaging solutions like mailers and pouches intended for reuse are crafted to be long-lasting, easily cleaned, and adaptable for multiple purposes.
We know that packing or boxing is often used to secure your product. But what if we tell you that now you can use it to bring new life to the environment?
Yes, that is completely possible by using plantable packaging.
It is not only an eco-friendly solution but also innovative. It makes customers curious about the work and makes them happy about the impact.
These are seed-infused papers. After the customer has used the product, you can use those packages to serve a much deeper purpose. Imagine how many memorable unboxing experiences you can create with this boxing or packing.
What mushrooms? Aren't these something we eat?
Yes, but now you can even use it for your packing needs. They are made from:
- Mycelium, which is the root-like structure of mushrooms
- Agricultural byproducts
It consists of excellent alternative materials for conventional foam and plastic choices. The best part is that it's not only biodegradable, it is also compostable. What's the meaning of this?
It means it can transform into nutrient-enriched soil in a matter of weeks.
7. Compostable Mailers and Pouches
It is made from plant-based materials. After serving their purpose, they can break into compost, which is organic matter. This compost is full of nutrients that can be utilized for commercial purposes.
It performs dual functions.
It reduces plastic waste and is eco-friendly for boxing and packing products and goods.
Benefits Of Sustainable Packaging For Ecom Businesses
Here are some other benefits of using this innovation in your business.
- Attracts environmentally conscious consumers and enhances brand reputation for responsible business practices.
- It helps e-commerce brands stay compliant with evolving environmental regulations and packing standards.
- Minimizes waste because of boxing and packing, contributing to a reduction in landfills and marine pollution.
With the growth in eCommerce, there is a huge demand for sustainable packaging. It caters to the needs of eco-conscious consumers. Businesses are no longer viewed highly by customers because of their products alone. Customers can see what your brand is doing and how you're contributing to the wellness of society.
So, you should adopt sustainable solutions.
It subconsciously makes your customers view you as trustworthy. It also increases your appeal to customers who share the same cause. Moreover, its impact on e-commerce is undeniably huge. It's time to take a step forward and resolve these issues. You might think it's a small detail or change that no one would appreciate. But the truth is many customers see companies using eco-friendly products in high regard.
Implementing these sustainable solutions was extremely costly some years ago. But now, thanks to advanced technology, you don't need to spend thousands of bucks for this change.
If we look at the ROI, it'll be huge because such companies become headlines in many newspapers and get free publicity. It's an amazing tactic that can increase the growth of e-commerce businesses.
At Altro Labeks, we believe in using recyclable packaging such as stone paper and 100% PCW. It can take your business to the next level, and you can win the hearts of your customers. Contact us today to adopt sustainable packaging solutions in your business.