Unprecedented online sales, constant innovation, a boom in start-ups, globalisation of shopping habits… the truth is obvious: it’s a great time to be in e-commerce! More than 2.1 billion shoppers worldwide are expected to purchase goods online by 2021, while global e-commerce sales will hit nearly $4.2 trillion USD this year. But the incredible rise of e-commerce has serious implications for the environment, including the need for extraordinary volumes of packaging. In the US alone, it was reported that the packaging of home-delivered products costs one billion trees annually.
Business owners sometimes forget about the environmental impact of their company; after all, there are a huge number of time-consuming day-to-day tasks that all contribute to the bottom line. However, online retailers have a responsibility to do what they can to lessen the environmental impact of their shipments and reduce their carbon footprint.
Once online brands deal with the issue of unsuitable packaging, they will inevitably see a raft of positive results – including financial.
- Optimise Your Packaging
No company ever designs their packaging to deliberately harm the environment, but we’re literally drowning in a sea of packaging waste, with too much of it ending up in our oceans. The United Nations has warned that, by 2050, there will be more plastic waste in our oceans than fish.
Although e-commerce isn’t solely to blame for the pollution, the industry needs to accept responsibility for its contribution to the crisis and take urgent action. The problem seems to stem from the enduring desire to satisfy customers. Some sources claim the ‘average package is dropped 17 times’; online retailers that want their goods to arrive in perfect condition therefore overprotect items (instead of packaging smarter) in an attempt to keep customers happy.
Unfortunately, this practice is having the opposite effect. Increasingly, consumers want brands to lead with their values: they want companies to apply green manufacturing practices, utilise eco-friendly supply chains, and reduce waste packaging. Any company ‘shipping air’ with oversized boxes will most likely frustrate the modern consumer.
In addition to upsetting customers, improper packaging processes can be a waste of money for businesses too. Not only does excess packaging take up valuable space in warehouses, but it can obstruct material-handling equipment (MHE), meaning extra work and wasted time and money. Furthermore, optimised packaging will help companies minimise transport costs.
- Explore Green Solutions
So, what can businesses do? Our advice is simple: follow the global trend and don’t get left behind. Zero-waste packaging, redesigned shipping boxes, and minimalist wrapping are shaping the future of e-commerce. Consumers are appealing for brands to not only use sustainable packaging supplies, but to eliminate waste completely.
Once you look into green packaging and processes, you will find endless ways to improve your business and easily reduce your carbon footprint. You can use biodegradable materials, go paperless, create incentive programmes, involve communities, and sell packaging waste as secondary raw materials. The idea of implementing costly new systems can be off-putting, especially for young businesses; however, it’s been found that consumers are willing to pay more for products from retailers that use eco-conscious packaging. Whether you’re an established brand or an ambitious start-up, we all have a responsibility for reducing waste in the e-commerce process.
Asendia takes positive actions to minimise its impact on the natural world. Our sustainability initiatives are to measure and offset our carbon emissions, increase our energy efficiency, and provide our customers with free advice on sustainable solutions. We’re working extremely hard all over the world to deliver sustainable change, working only with responsible suppliers and partners who are also committed to helping our planet.
For more advice on sustainable services to help reduce carbon emissions for your online retail business, simply contact Asendia today.