E-commerce undoubtedly keeps rising and probably will lead the market in a few years. For business owners, it’s easier and doesn’t need traditional business requirements. For consumer, it’s convenient and mostly faster than the conventional ones. After all, everything is all about convenience and speed nowadays, isn’t it?
Problem arises when it comes to packaging. Most of the times, E-commerce need shipping and only heaven knows what happens to each and every item. In order to keep them safe, sellers kindly pack the goods in a neat, safe, and at times, excessive packaging. For example, there’s a pre-boxed item in a second or third box, just like matryoshka dolls.
It’s a nice thought, and sellers only want to give the best for their customers, right? However, you must know that a big portion of the packaging usually ends up in trash bins. So, to keep your business going while keeping the environment safe, try these 7 ways.
1. Make it functional and zero waste
As a customer, won’t it be such a treat when you know that the packaging of the items you bought can be used or transformed into something useful? Bags, for instance. It gives you not only a sense of full advantage (because everything is utilizable), but also an impression that your seller cares about the environment Take this Puma packaging, for example.
Aside of the convenience and eco-friendly part, this packaging requires fewer production resources and reusable. You can use the box for containers or other purposes too. These packaging bags save about 60% of water and energy compared to traditional ones. This kind of packaging will also encourage your buyers to do the same, especially if they’re not living a sustainable lifestyle yet.
2. For food sellers, opt for recyclable-friendly food boxes
Did you know that takeout containers are made of recyclable materials? Of course you do. But did you know that they become no longer recyclable if oil and other food scraps stick to the paper/cardboard? This is why most paper/cardboard recycling posts don’t want pizza or doughnut boxes around.
If possible, it’s best to get recyclable or compostable boxes. But if it isn’t, then you can always layer a food-grade film around the box to minimize oil. But if you can’t get them both, you can always resort to plastic materials (like food-grade, thin plastic boxes).
You can also encourage or push your customers towards an eco-friendly lifestyle. Make takeouts only possible when they bring their own food container, just like one of these Eco-friendly cafes.
3. Minimalist packaging
There have been cases of small items packed in ridiculously large box. Probably the reason is because the seller runs out of proper box and has to resort to the bigger ones. However this results in a total waste of space and materials. It’s fortunate if the buyer can recycle it or something, but if the buyer is not eco savvy, it’s going to be so wasteful.
If you can’t pack your items in a functional packaging, then it’s simpler (and greener) to do it in a minimalistic way. This kind of packaging set you apart from competition and your business will appeal to the eco-conscious consumers, too. One way to do this is to get customized packaging boxes so you’ll save materials and space well.
4. Get sustainable packing materials (recyclable and biodegradable)
Of course, the most obvious step is to get recyclable materials like cardboard and paperboard. But it’s a lot better if you can get the biodegradable ones. Because even if your customers throw them away and it sort of ends up in landfill, it’s going to biodegrade and ultimately won’t leave negative impact on the environment.
So what are biodegradable items? Besides cardboard and paper, look for items made of corn starch. It has limited to no negative impact on the environment and it’s perfect for food packaging. You can also use biodegradable plastic because it decomposes when exposed to sunlight, and it’s ideal for mailing as well.
To keep your products safe, you can use scrunched up newspapers. However, if you must use bubble wrap, choose the ones made out of recycled polyethylene because it’s degradable (not on its own, but it helps with recycling process).
5. Home shop
Alright, this isn’t exactly a packaging tip, but it reduces packaging waste. Businesses like clothing, cosmetics, or toys shop (anything that sells physical items) gives you and customers an advantage if you open a shop at your own house. Customers can directly see what you’re selling, and you can offer them other items which they might actually end up buying.
If you’ve got a decent storeroom or unused garage, then you can transform them into a small shop. Don’t forget to provide sustainable bags for your buyers. If you want to be extra greener, you can ask them to bring their own bags. Might sound a bit stingy, but if you explain your cause, I’m pretty sure your customers will understand.
That said, this method particularly works if your buyers are within the same area as your location.
6. Use innovative and unique materials
This tip is quite challenging in some areas because there are a few to no eco-friendly manufacturers or the materials are too expensive. However, if you can find companies with innovative and green materials that offers good price, it doesn’t hurt to make them your packaging partner.
An example of this tip is environment-friendly inks. Inks made from vegetables, food, soy, or milk proteins. That way, you help freeing the environment from harmful chemical substances. Those kind of inks also come from renewable sources, unlike the commercial ones. Printed papers with soy ink make deinking a lot easier and the recycling process becomes much easier as well. To be extra green, there’s also inks from air pollution that you’ll want to try.
Other examples would be packing peanuts made from plant (or plant-based), paper wrap (like a bubble wrap but made of paper), and rainforest-friendly paper.
7. At times, plastic packaging can help with sustainability
I know, I know, it looks like I’m contradicting my points here, but this is not without a reason. Sometimes, plastic is helpful for for items that need big containers. Compared to glass, steel, or aluminium, it takes less energy to produce plastic. It’s also lighter than those aforementioned materials.
Why is it a good thing? Products contained in plastic package don’t significantly increase their overall weight. Lighter packaging equals less fuel in shipping, and what if there is less fuel, then there is less energy and carbon emission. Imagine how heavy it becomes when the the packaging is glass.
So those are 7 ways to make your E-commerce business greener. You might ask, “Why should i make it greener anyway? I can still do this my way and do other green things to ‘atone’ it.”
Well, people are getting more aware to environmental problems and they’re now trying their best to reduce all that negative impacts from humanity. And when you run an extra mile for Earth, customers appreciate it too. A survey by Recycled Paperboard Alliance discovered that 60% customers vote for eco-friendly packaging materials and support companies with sustainability values.
They are also more inclined to buy products from companies that uses recycled packaging. This shows that mostly, your buyers appreciate the thought and will continue to support you when you choose the eco path.
Some of the tips above depend on your location and it’s best to not force it if they’re not available around you. But there are some ways to help Earth with your packaging too, like the minimalist packaging and the sorts. Anyways, have fun with your business and the packaging! Tell us what ways you’ve done to make your business greener by commenting down below.
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