Packaging is a key element in customers’ interactions with ecommerce businesses. Packaging is an essential part of getting your goods safely from Point A to Point B. However, it has far more important consequences than your business.
Thanks to the growth of online shopping due to COVID-19, it’s predicted that global ecommerce sales will hit $5.4 trillion by 2022. While this is great news for online business, it also means that there will be more packaging waste and a greater environmental impact from all this shopping.
The majority of household waste is made up of packaging and this will only continue to increase with the rise in ecommerce sales. We can reverse this trend by focusing our efforts on packaging that is as sustainable for the environment as it is for businesses.
There are many sustainable packaging options available.
It’s time for you to reconsider your brand’s carbon footprint as well as the packaging products that you use in honor of Earth Week and Earth Day, both on April 22nd. Businesses must quickly adopt eco-friendly packaging as they are becoming more popular.
What is eco-friendly packaging?
The use of eco-friendly packaging means that boxes, mailers and other packing materials are made from recycled materials and have a minimal impact on the environment. The industry will vary, but the general guidelines are the same:
Maximize the use of biodegradable and recycled materials
Maximize the use of renewable energy in production
It is safe for the environment and consumers throughout its entire lifecycle
Performance and cost requirements met
Many businesses may find it difficult to use eco-friendly products or alternative shipping methods because there is not a universal standard for packaging. To understand articles on this topic, you will often need a science degree. Sustainability is more important than ever, so it’s high time to get rid of the jargon.
Why use eco-friendly packaging when you can?
Retail packaging waste is greatly influenced by plastic packaging such as bubble wrap and bags. The right packaging for goods can make it easier to ship large quantities of goods across long distances. It also makes it safer. Packaging is not the enemy. But the materials we use are.
Plastic, which is the main component of most packaging materials, is the most polluting material on the planet. Plastic can take as long as 1,000 years to break down, so it is important to recycle and reuse it as much as possible. Yet between 1950 and 2015, only 9% of the world’s plastic was recycled. Rest of the plastic ends up in our oceans and landfills.
Although it is impossible to eliminate packaging entirely, there are ways we can make better and more sustainable packaging choices that will benefit our planet’s future.
Different types of eco-friendly shipping containers
Here’s a list of eco-friendly shipping containers, from cardboard to biodegradable material.
Papers and cardboard
Most commonly used packaging elements, cardboard packaging and paper packaging, can be reused or recycled easily by the consumer. They are easy to source in the quantities required by businesses.
They are often made from plant-based materials like wheat straw and corn starch, and biodegrade in a shorter time. They produce 70% less greenhouse emissions in landfills than traditional (petrochemical-based) plastics, making them well-suited to composting. They can contaminate other plastics and cannot be recycled conventionally.
Packaging made from biodegradable plastic
Biodegradable packaging refers to traditional plastics that have been modified so they can be broken down more quickly by heat or light. They can still contain petrochemicals and leave behind toxic residues that make them unsuitable for composting.
You can wrap your product with jute or cotton using reusable tote bags. These bags are eco-friendly and can be used to give a gift along with your purchase.
Inflatable air pillows
Protect products with air pillows. These bags are flexible and can be made in many sizes and shapes. They also don’t add much weight to packages. They are made of post-consumer recycled materials but they can’t be composted as they are usually made of a plastic-based material.
Bubble wrap corrugated
Corrugated bubble wrap is an eco-friendly option to plastic bubble wrap and styrofoam packing peanuts if you need to cushion fragile items. It is made from 100% recycled cardboard, which is derived from post-consumer or post-industrial waste. You can recycle or compost corrugated bubble wrap.
Here are 5 tips to help you move to environmentally-friendly packaging and shipping
These are the best practices to use when packaging your products in an eco-friendly manner.
1. Select materials that can be recycled and made from biodegradable materials
Look for packaging options made from recyclable or compostable materials when you are deciding on products to pack. This allows single-use virgin materials such as plastic to be kept out of circulation, and extends the life of existing materials.
2. Select a minimalist design
It doesn’t need to be costly or inefficient to use eco-friendly packaging. Sometimes, the reverse is true. Businesses can get the same results with a packaging redesign. However, they may be able to achieve them at a lower price. A minimalist approach can help you reduce both your environmental footprint and your costs.
3. Choose your inks
Ink is a key component of your packaging’s sustainability if you plan to print branding elements. Even though eco-friendly packaging is often overlooked, inks can be used to create unique designs.
Petroleum-based inks, which are often petroleum-based, are dangerous to the environment as they contain high levels VOCs (volatile organic compound). Soy-based inks are a much better option. They are eco-friendly, produce brighter colors, and are cheaper to make.
4. Reduce the burden
Consider whether your materials are necessary or desirable before you choose them. Some packaging elements are cosmetic and do not support the overall design. The more your packaging weighs, the more it will cost you as heavier packages are more expensive to ship.
Don’t go overboard on packaging design and customization, especially to start. You can still have a nice unboxing experience without a ton of fluff. It’s a win-win situation: you reduce both waste and costs by reducing the weight of your packaging.
The most expensive and largest element of packaging is custom boxes. Being able to eliminate boxes will dramatically reduce your shipping costs and environmental impact. If your goods are small, soft, or lightweight, cheaper packaging materials such as poly mailers or tissue wrap might be enough to fulfill your needs.
If you need boxes, it’s important to check that you are using the correct box size. You want to avoid the “Russian nesting doll effect”, which is when boxes are packed within boxes.
When your main boxes are too big for the goods being transported, this is called a “filler box”. This can also force you to use filler materials for more fragile items, which are often difficult to recycle. To find the right size box for your products, it’s a good idea.
To reduce additional packaging waste, you may want to ship ships in your own container packaging. You can also opt for carbon-neutral shipping options through a 3PL.
How can small businesses use eco-friendly packaging?
Small businesses must evaluate their current designs and determine the performance standards for their packaging. When choosing eco-friendly packaging, entrepreneurs should consider the following questions:
Are you shipping internationally?
Which size do you require?
How durable should packaging be?
Small businesses should work with suppliers who are eco-friendly and within their budget. This is possible by choosing vendors that do not require large orders.
ShipBob’s noissue partner offers the lowest minimum order quantity in the market. The MOQ for mailers is just 100 units, and the MOQ tissue and stickers 250 units. This allows small businesses to have sustainable packaging materials without having to spend a lot.
Doris Sleep, an eco-friendly brand of pillows, teamed up with noissue and ShipBob to create the partnership.
“I added stickers from noissue to my orders and they were implemented immediately. ShipBob allows me to maintain my brand experience. It doesn’t stop at my store; it continues through the unboxing experience em>
Tracey Wallace, Founder of Doris Sleep
Many brands use eco-friendly packaging
Many brands are becoming more eco-friendly in packaging. Personal care brand Boie, for example uses noissue’s 100% compostable mailers.
ShipBob is a fulfillment partner that ships hundreds of orders each day in custom-branded packaging. We use noissue’s ecofriendly mailers, which are 100% compostable. This is why we rely on ShipBob as a fulfillment partner.
Manuel de la Cruz, CEO at Boie
Hello Cup is the most adorable menstrual cup in the world, and it’s the same. Many local artists and retailers use sustainable packaging. Monday Haircare, for example, uses a custom-branded tape that is also compostable.
Promoting eco-friendly packaging materials
No matter how eco-friendly your packaging, it won’t make a difference if customers don’t know. The fact remains that the retail supply chain effectively ends with the consumer, and eco-friendly packaging can be a real differentiator.
It’s no surprise that data from Traackr found from 2018 to 2019, there was a 100% increase in hashtag mentions, such as “#wastefulpackaging” and keyword phrases like “too much packaging.”
You will have a greater impact on the product’s lifecycle if you invest in marketing eco-friendly packaging.
You want customers to be able to reuse, recycle, and compost your packaging. Make sure they have all the information readily accessible. You might consider adding eco-friendly, recyclable packaging inserts to your boxes. Make sure the information is clearly written.
Sustainability is an important selling point for your company, despite environmental concerns. Climate change is becoming a more important issue that influences buying decisions. According a study by Cone Communications, 87% of consumers would buy from a brand that advocated for an issue they cared about.
This is why you would want to make sure everyone knows.
Where can I find eco-friendly packaging?
As a ShipBob partner, noissue makes it easy for businesses to make the switch to eco-friendly packaging. Noissue packaging products are designed with circularity in view and can be used in a recyclable, compostable, or reusable framework.
Some of the alternatives options available for ecommerce businesses include water-activated packing tape, fully compostable mailers, and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified recycled tissue paper.
You can customize each packaging product online with very little design experience. Noissue’s products can also be printed with soy-based, which is a more sustainable alternative to petroleum-based printing inks.
Every order placed by noissue also helps to reforest our planet. For every order placed by customers as part of the Ecoalliance loyalty program they plant a tree. This ensures that cardboard and paper products are not used up again.
Low MOQs help reduce waste as brands can order as little as or as many packaging items as they need.
How ShipBob works for ecommerce packaging and shipping
ShipBob has teamed up with noissue to make it easier to access sustainable, custom packaging. Through the partnership, noissue can ship custom products direct to ShipBob fulfillment centers around the world, and ShipBob will fulfill orders using the brand’s custom eco-friendly packaging.
ShipBob can introduce interested parties directly to the noissue team. ShipBob has been briefed about all noissue products. If you’re interested in using ShipBob and noissue together, please fill out this form.
Although it can be intimidating to go eco-friendly in packaging, there are many long-term benefits for your business and the Earth. This can help you save money, improve your relationships with customers, and keep your marketing on the cutting edge. Let’s face the facts: Going green is the best thing we can do to help our planet.
Do you need a 3PL to send your eco-friendly brand packages?
ShipBob is an ecommerce fulfillment company that helps ecommerce brands store inventory, fulfill orders, and even ship out eco-friendly packages in a fast, affordable way. You can either use our standard brown boxes or your custom-branded packaging.
To find out if we are a good fit, request a quote.
Request a Fulfillment Quote
FAQs about eco-friendly packaging
These are the top questions regarding eco-friendly packaging.
What is the most environmentally-friendly packaging?
The best environmentally-friendly packaging solutions promote a circular economy. There are many ways to create a circular economy, but the most popular models include recycling, composting and reusing materials.
Composable packaging is made from materials that are easily broken down and can be decomposed into compost. These eco-friendly packaging doesn’t contribute to ocean pollution or landfills. Instead, they go back to nature.
Recyclable packaging on the other hand, is made up of materials that can be recycled or have already been recycled. You can think of corrugated cardboard and mailers made from recycled paper or plastic.
Reusable packaging, such as cloth pouches and glass jars, encourages people keep packaging materials from going to landfills and oceans. They can be reused for other purposes.
Is there an additional cost for eco-friendly packaging
The eco-friendly packaging option can be used to send mail, tissue, and boxes in a sustainable manner. There shouldn’t be extra costs.
Are sustainable packaging costs more expensive? You should be able purchase and implement sustainable packaging within your budget if you choose the right supplier.
Noting that sustainable packaging is in high demand, will also help to lower the cost of the product.
What is biodegradable?
Biodegradable material is any material that can be broken down or decomposed by bacteria and living organisms. Biodegradability is a broad term. It’s important that you understand the different levels of biodegradability.
Although certain plastics are technically “biodegradable”, the time required for them to break down is not known. The circumstances must also be considered.
Although compostable packaging is included in the broad definition of biodegradable it also enriches the earth with nutrients after it has been removed.
Certified compostable packaging also has clear timelines that indicate when they will be decompose. A product must be home compostable within 180 days or commercial composting conditions within 90 days.
What are plant-based packaging options?
Bio-based sources are used to make plant-based packaging solutions. These packages are made up of common biological sources such as wood pulp and corn seaweed.
Many of the available compostable packaging materials are made from plants. Noissue’s mailers are, for example, plant-based and made with a mixture of corn-based biopolymers.
Not all plant-based packaging solutions can be composted. Some materials may not be able to be composted quickly or completely depending on what additives they contain.
If you are looking for eco-friendly alternatives to plastic packaging, make sure to research whether it can be composted.