Lancaster, PA, USA - December 15, 2017: USPS Priority Mail boxes, Amazon, and other packages delivered at a residential home front door.

How Sustainable is Your Holiday Packaging?

With Cyber Monday upon us, and the holidays quickly approaching, there’s a good chance many of us are going to have quite a few boxes piled up in front of our door in the coming weeks. With the drive for companies to create more sustainable, environmentally friendly packaging, this time of year presents a fantastic opportunity to see how well they’re doing.

With research showing that one of the greatest barriers to recycling is lack of consumer knowledge, we wanted to add some insight on how to tell how sustainable the packaging is that you’re products are being shipped in.

Sustainability Check

We’ve created a checklist for a quick evaluation of the packaging you’re interacting with this holiday season. Give your packaging a point for each of these boxes you can check off.

  • Overpackaging: there is no evidence of over packaging. The product fits well into the box it was shipped in. Examples of overpackaging: a box within a box, a disproportionately large box for a small item, excessive unnecessary packaging, etc.
  • Ships in Own Container: The product was shipped in its own container without an overbox.
  • Excess Padding: There is no evidence of additional, unnecessary padding. For example foam peanuts, shredded paper, etc. Many of these materials can be recycled, but developing packaging specifically for ecommerce that can ship without additional material is cost-effective and requires less work on the consumer end.
  • The packaging material is recyclable. For example corrugate, PET, etc. If you’re not sure, check out this recycling guide.
  • Recyclability is communicated. Is there a label on your package that tells you how to recycle the packaging?
  • Reusability: the packaging can be reused for an additional purpose.
  • Styrofoam: there is no evidence of Styrofoam in the packaging. While some places can recycle it, most materials recovery facilities still do not accept it as part of their recycling program.
  • Mixed-materials: the package is not made of mixed materials. Examples, plastic mixed with paper, foam envelope, foam on corrugate. Since materials need to be easily separated to be recycled, packaging that has mixed materials are much more difficult to recycle.
  • Label: the label is not shrink-wrapped to the package.  Materials need to be separated easily, and PVC shrink labels impede that separation.
  • Returnable: Can I use the packaging to return the item if I need to?

The higher the score, the more sustainable the package. As companies continue to narrow in their focus on sustainability, these numbers will continue to increase. With increased awareness, new regulations and consumer pressure, most of the large brand owners have already set aggressive goals for 2025 and beyond.

E-commerce giant, Amazon, has developed requirements vendors must meet to ship through Amazon, with an aim to reduce waste and increase customer satisfaction. As a member of the Amazon Support and Supplier network, Adept Packaging works side-by-side with some of the major E-commerce retailers, designing sustainable packaging for the most complex, custom supply chains.

If you’re in the ecommerce market and notice your packaging is scoring lower than you’d like, contact us! We hope this holiday season, you’ll recycle responsibly. Have a safe and sustainable holiday!

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