sustainable ecommerce packaging, sustainable packaging for ecommerce

7 Sustainable Practices for Your eCommerce Packaging

A 2022 study notes that the eCommerce packaging problem ranks high among land pollution issues, emphasizing the complex and often challenging relationship between eCommerce and sustainability.

Experts forecast that eCommerce plastic packaging use is set to climb to 4.5 billion pounds by 2025. With eCommerce revenues soaring above $1 trillion yearly in certain regions, brands must adopt more eco-friendly practices to minimize environmental damage. 

Sustainable eCommerce packaging offers more than simply minimizing ecological impact; it enhances customer relationships. This article discusses the advantages of sustainable eCommerce packaging for online businesses and provides practical methods for implementation.

Benefits of Using Sustainable Packaging in eCommerce

sustainable ecommerce packaging, sustainable ecommerce, ecommerce sustainability

Sustainable eCommerce packaging benefits the environment, as well as a business’s marketing and finances. Below are a few advantages it provides.

1. Decreases carbon footprint

Sustainable product packaging in eCommerce is safer for the environment when it can naturally decompose faster after disposal. Reusing this type of packaging is much easier too, and manufacturing tends to require less energy and produce minimal waste.

Lightweighting is another common sustainable packaging practice.This often saves cost on packaging materials and again when shipping. The lighter weight packaging also reduces the amount of energy required to transport a package.

These factors allow brands to shrink their carbon footprint and become more environmentally friendly.

2. Boosts brand image

The Economist finds that consumers believe corporations have as much responsibility as governments to make a positive environmental change. Since sustainable packaging positively impacts the environment, using it can enhance how consumers perceive a brand.

3. Encourages brand loyalty

Biodegradable product packaging can cultivate a strong bond with eco-conscious consumers who prioritize sustainability as part of their identity. By choosing such packaging, businesses empower customers to align their beliefs with their purchases, increasing brand loyalty. 

4. Increases customer retention

According to Microsoft, customers are more willing to switch brands that they know practice sustainability. Since product packaging can play a role in marketing strategies, adopting sustainable eCommerce packaging can reduce customer churn and improve sales.  

5. Attracts new customers 

Switching to sustainable packaging enables businesses to capture markets they may not have been able to reach before. 

For instance, suppose a makeup brand’s original audience was people in the fashion industry. By adopting sustainable cosmetic packaging, businesses can attract fashionable customers looking to minimize their environmental footprint.  

6. Improves business profitability 

Sustainable packaging done properly is a net win for profitability. It often doesn’t require additional expenses; its true cost is relatively low. For instance, choosing a packaging manufacturer that uses only renewable energy generally won’t cost a brand anything.

Meanwhile, highlighting the sustainable aspects of packaging can increase sales among eco-conscious consumers. This approach focuses on finding the ‘low-hanging fruit’ or easy wins. According to a McKinsey & Company survey, 7 in 10 respondents expressed willingness to pay higher prices for products with sustainable packaging. 

The same survey found that up to 36% of respondents would purchase more sustainably packaged products if they were more widely available in stores. It highlights the untapped potential in meeting the needs of eco-conscious customers. However, brands must follow their best practices to fully benefit from sustainable packaging for eCommerce.

7 Sustainable Practices for Your eCommerce Packaging

sustainable ecommerce packaging, sustainable packaging for ecommerce

Adopting sustainable eCommerce packaging doesn’t have to be complicated. Below are a few practices businesses can adopt to practice eCommerce sustainability.

1. Reduce packaging size

Brands should rethink their product packaging when transitioning to more sustainable solutions. Excess space in packaging contributes to environmental waste and inefficient shipment. Hence, it’s ideal to use packaging that fits the right product size and contains only what’s necessary.

What Apple did in 2020 is an example of how reducing packaging sizes benefits a company. They began shipping their iPhone 12 and Apple Watch Series 6 devices without a charging adaptor, significantly shrinking the packaging. This change allowed them to fit 70% more products on shipping pallets, reducing shipping emissions. 

2. Use recyclable or biodegradable materials

Biodegradable packaging naturally breaks down from bacteria within a year after disposal, unlike traditional plastic, which can last decades if it even decomposes. 

While recyclable packaging may biodegrade at different rates, it offers the advantage of remaining in a customer’s life longer. Its longevity can increase brand recall if they interact with the packaging daily.

3. Source locally

Shipping international products can add to the carbon emissions from the mode of transport. Beyond faster and more cost-efficient shipments, sourcing materials locally minimizes a company’s total carbon emissions.  

4. Minimize plastic usage

Single-use plastic bottles and disposable plastic bags are a few examples of unsustainable packaging. These aren’t the only materials available to businesses that can match the reliability and durability of plastics. 

Plant-based packaging materials such as mushroom mycelium and seaweed allow a company to minimize the amount of plastic in their packaging without sacrificing quality. 

5. Become a Climate-Neutral certified company

Certifications from organizations like Climate Neutral provide credibility and social proof for businesses. Climate Neutral is a global non-profit that grants certificates to companies meeting their carbon neutrality standards. This certification acts as a badge, assuring consumers that the brand is taking concrete action against climate change, not just making empty claims.

6. Educate customers 

Educating customers about sustainability establishes thought leadership and demonstrates expertise in the subject. Including QR codes in the product packaging’s design is an excellent method to achieve this. QR codes can link to web pages with details about the packaging, including material sourcing and its advantages over traditional plastic. 

The short bit of copy you place alongside QR codes can also highlight the impact the customer is making on the environment, empowering them to continue supporting the brand. The key is combining brevity, emotional appeal, and a call to action to learn more through the QR code.

7. Work with sustainable packaging experts

A major challenge companies face is sorting through which suppliers truly practice sustainability. Sustainability consultants specializing in packaging can provide insights into which supplier offers the sustainable solutions a brand needs. 

Brands can leverage the expertise of sustainable packaging industry influencers to explore the plethora of sustainable packaging options available. 

Influencers such as Cory Connor (Corygated) and Meyers’ Senior Vice President Adam Peek (Packaging Pastor) can provide valuable guidance to brands seeking the right packaging materials that align with their sustainability goals.

It’s Time to Practice Sustainability

The global movement towards sustainable eCommerce packaging indicates that it’s not just a passing trend. Sustainability in eCommerce packaging is set to continue seeing growth and innovations, including advancements in material sciences. It continues to find new ways to balance eco-friendliness with high-quality product experiences, such as improvements in the biodegradability and compostability of packaging. 

To learn how you can adopt sustainable packaging practices into your business, consult with packaging experts from Meyers. We help you identify the most suitable methods to bring your sustainable packaging ideas to life. Contact us today to learn more.