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Eco-friendly packaging for ecommerce brands: How to make a switch

Versha Kamwal
March 5, 2021
mins read

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One of the hottest button issues affecting us today is environmental preservation. According to a survey, 81% of the global respondents state that businesses have a responsibility towards the environment. Eco-friendly packaging is a great way to instil brand values into your customers as part of your ecommerce marketing strategy.

What’s wrong with packaging now?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, packaging constitutes one-third of all household waste, and this is destined to rise along with ecommerce sales. Moreover, the packaging industry is responsible for 40% of plastic pollution in the world. Unfortunately, the ecommerce industry is one of the biggest contributors. For instance, Flipkart alone makes around 8 million shipments every month. This is due not only to the use of plastic packaging but to the unfortunate reality of ‘over-packaging.’

India’s abysmal record indicates, if green packaging solutions aren’t adopted, the amount of plastic waste going to drains and landfills will increase drastically.

What is eco-friendly packaging?

Eco-friendly packaging (also known as sustainable packaging) refers to sourcing, developing, and using packaging solutions with minimal environmental impact and footprint. In simpler terms, eco-friendly packaging is earth-friendly and doesn’t contribute to the further depletion of natural resources.

According to the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, eco-friendly packaging must meet the criteria stated below:

  • Beneficial, safe and healthy for humans throughout its life-cycle
  • Fit for purpose in terms of performance and cost
  • Consumes nothing but renewable energy
  • Made from renewable or recycled materials
  • Uses only clean technologies
  • Minimises material and energy wastage
  • Is part of a circular system of reuse

Benefits of eco-friendly packaging

Here are some great reasons to make the switch:

  1. Better for the planet

The primary benefit of eco-friendly packaging is that it is good for the planet as it results in fewer carbon emissions and less waste.

  1. Better for people

Eco-friendly packaging is healthier for people too. Your customers will appreciate the fact you aren’t sending synthetic chemicals into their homes.

  1. Builds brand reputation and customer loyalty

As the times are changing, consumers are growing much more conscious of the environmental impact of their purchasing habits, especially online. Your eco-friendly packaging will help you build a strong reputation, acquire more customers and boost loyalty.

  1. Ensures efficient use of storage

The two big components of eco-friendly packaging are reducing packaging materials and minimising wastage. And when you implement these correctly, they lead to more efficient storage, so you can limit the space required to store your products. This will help you lower your storage costs and open up additional space to store more merchandise.

  1. Saves money

Besides storage costs, eco-friendly packaging helps you save on packaging cost as you use less of it. Moreover, shipping small packages is a great way to practice sustainability, and it also lowers your shipping costs.

According to Nielsen, 73% of global customers would change their shopping habits to reduce their environmental impact.

How to make a switch?

  • Analyse if your packaging materials are absolutely necessary

Every online business needs to ensure that its products are secure in-transit. But there are times when orders are filled to the brim with bubble wrap, packing peanuts, and other materials. It's likely that at least some are not needed to ensure the products' safe transport. You can stick to the basics and reduce the use of packaging materials. Most importantly, you can still have a pleasant unboxing experience without a ton of fluff.

  • Evaluate the packaging size

It is important to check that you are using the correct box size. If you use over-sized boxes, you are forced to use filler materials for more fragile products, which are often difficult to recycle. Moreover, when you ship these oversized boxes, they take more space during shipping, which adds to your shipping costs.

  • Check if your packaging is gentle on the planet

While plastic is definitely convenient, but its environmental toll demands ecommerce businesses to reconsider their options. If you are using plastic or other packaging material that isn't good for the environment, it's time to substitute it. However, it may be tempting to revamp your entire process to be more eco-friendly. You can start by replacing one or two things rather than replacing all your supplies with greener alternatives.

  • Utilise greener materials from the get-go

Packaging made from partly or 100% recycled materials is gaining massive popularity in the industry. You can choose recyclable and biodegradable materials such as paper, cardboard, bioplastics, biodegradable plastics, plant fibres, and more. Additionally, you can use soy-based inks. They are eco-friendly, produce more vibrant colours, and are cheaper to produce.

Popular brands that use eco-friendly packaging

Luckily, many ecommerce brands have already begun implementing eco-friendly packaging, such as:

  1. Origin x Performance

Origin x Performance is a UK-based sportswear brand that incorporates sustainability in every aspect of its business. When it comes to order fulfilment, they use fully sustainable branded mailing bags as packaging for shipping their products. These bags are made from natural, biodegradable ingredients, and are as durable as recyclable plastics and other plastic alternatives.

Origin x Performance eco-friendly/ sustainable packaging
Origin x Performance uses biodegradable mailing bags

  1. Seed Phytonutrients

Seed Phytonutrients is a sustainable beauty brand launched by L'Oréal with paper packaging. It takes the title of making the first-ever shower-friendly paper bottle made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper. As the shampoo bottle is meant to get wet, the brand has used a mineral coating that dries quickly and looks good as new in no time.

Seed Phytonutrients eco-friendly/ sustainable packaging
Seed Phytonutrients uses 100% sustainable packaging its products

  1. The switch fix

The switch fix is an Indian brand for clean and conscious personal care products. Its packaging is sturdy enough to ship, durable enough to be reused and sustainable enough to be recycled and composted with 100% biodegradable materials.

The switch fix eco-friendly/ sustainable packaging
The switch fix uses 100% biodegradable materials for its packaging

Bottom line

Sustainability has become a focal point of how customers make their choices on the internet while purchasing from an online brand. With this shift, it is absolutely important for online businesses to adopt sustainable packaging. Fortunately, there are more eco-friendly packaging solutions on the market than ever before, which can help you cut down your carbon footprint, build customer trust and give you a competitive edge in your industry.

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