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!

Tips for designing sustainable ecommerce packaging

8 Tips for Designing Sustainable E-Commerce Packaging

With the continuous and exponential increase in E-commerce sales within the last several years, it is apparent that any business who wishes to perform globally needs to be optimized for it.

As consumers continue to demand more environmentally friendly packaging, sustainability needs to be a top consideration when designing packaging for the E-commerce market.

In a recent white paper, Design Packaging for E-Commerce with a Sustainable Mindset, which can be found in our resource library, our sustainable experts discuss what E-commerce is, why it’s so important, and how companies are preparing for the huge shift in distribution.

As an added bonus, we thought it might be helpful for companies wishing to design sustainable E-Commerce packaging, to have access to these 8 considerations:

1. Align Your Goals

Make sure you align your sustainability strategies, priorities, and actions with your stakeholders (suppliers etc.).

2. Design for Recyclability

Avoid over designing with special inks, coatings, or lamination that can reduce the recyclability and sustainability of the packaging.

3. Avoid Over-Packaging

Minimize the amount of material included in your packaging. Not only does it reduce material waste, but it reduces material cost, inventory, transportation weight, and storage cost.

4. Know Your Product

Explore shipping options outside of the standard cardboard box. Understand your product needs to determine if your packaging must be water-resistant, flexible, soft etc. and redesign with a sustainable mindset.

5. Avoid Excess Padding

Remove foam peanuts, shredded paper, etc. and utilize inserts instead if necessary.

6. Avoid Mixed-Materials

Avoid paper-out, poly bubble lined mailer envelopes. The mixed-material composition makes it difficult to separate and prevent them from being recyclable.

7. Choose Sustainable Materials

When deciding on material options, consider biodegradable, compostable and recyclable options.

8. Communicate Recyclability

One of the biggest issues in waste reduction are consumers. Educating and communicating the end of life options for your packaging is necessary so consumers understand how to close the loop.

If you need assistance developing sustainable E-Commerce packaging, contact our APASS certified sustainable experts.

Download

For a downloadable version of these tips, click the pdf below.

Sustainable-Ecommerce-Packaging-Infographic

Sources: https://www.environmentalleader.com/2019/04/6-tips-for-eco-friendly-dtc-e-commerce-packaging/
https://www.zaproo.com/sustainable-ecommerce-packaging/