Small steps toward sustainable product packaging
Most businesses can agree that it’s important to take steps toward sustainability in all of their practices. We only get one planet, and we each have our responsibility. For businesses in the eCommerce sphere, packaging is a great place to start. When you consider the earth with your packaging choices, you also make it easier for your customers to feel good about doing their part. And by being greener—and genuinely so—you can also build a brand that people will remember and support.
It’s not, unfortunately, as simple as picking the perfect sustainable packaging solution off a shelf (or out of an online catalogue). From biodegradable mailers to eco infill, cardboard that can be recycled to cardboard that has been made from recycled materials, the possibilities are myriad. Packaging design is at its best when it’s specific to the product being shipped.
So, how can you achieve the best sustainable packaging eCommerce for your products while ensuring that it’s also effective and makes an impression on your customer? There’s no one right answer, but we have some tips and principles that could steer you in the right direction.
Cut down on your packaging.
The first conscious choice to make with packaging is finding ways to REDUCE. Can you choose a smaller box to reduce the need for more infill? Does it need a box and an additional outer mailer? Is there a way you could use less packaging tape? More often than not, the answer is yes.
At NEON, we can get behind this principle of reduction for the sake of planet earth—it’s no longer a trend, it’s our present. Take a look at your packaging boxes design. What can be removed without increasing the possibility of damage during shipping? Can you simplify and combine components?
Pared-down packaging means less rubbish, fewer resources used to make it, and less space and weight for transportation. And it applies to all aspects of packaging—these self-locking boxes, for example, help reduce the need for additional packaging tape which is often made of plastic and very difficult to remove for recycling.
Consider your supply chain
Thinking sustainably is about looking deeper than just your own brand and eCommerce store. Sustainability is about assessing your supply chain and choosing to work with suppliers that have the same outlook. Giving custom and business to sustainable suppliers will promote and support the ethos.
Have you talked to your current suppliers about lower-waste options? They may be willing to adapt new ways of packaging or producing your products if you and others request it. Keep the conversation going!
Nix mixed materials
This is a simple tip, but an effective one. Product packaging that is made from mixed materials is often prioritised for its functionality—yet it's destined for the landfill. Often, these mixed-material bags, cartons, and wrappers combine plastic and paper or plastic and metal for lightweight durability and effective water or air proofing. However, they score low points for recyclability. The materials that are easiest to recycle are generally made from one single material. Mixing materials in one piece of packaging that is made for one-off use is a sure way for it to end up in the landfill.
For now, there are plenty of simple ways to avoid mixed-material packaging. If your product needs to be in a watertight bag, use compostable mailers. Do a little research to find out which materials can be easily recycled in the general recycling collection and opt for those, because most customers are not going to have the time or commitment to take extra steps to recycle their discarded packaging. Easily recyclable packaging can include something as simple as a basic packing carton which is lightweight, durable, and made from 100% recyclable cardboard. Our cartons come in a variety of sizes and are locally manufactured in Australia.
Choose a carbon-neutral freight provider
It’s not just the packaging that affects the planet! We mentioned earlier being aware of the other businesses that form part of your supply chain, and the same applies to your freight providers. The good news is that we already have some sustainable, carbon-neutral freight and delivery services in Australia, like Australia Post and Sendle.
No sustainable product packaging concept is perfect, but there are so many ways now that eCommerce companies can reduce their footprint and cut down on landfill waste. Combine the ideas above in a way that works for your product, and you’ll bring your customers along the journey to a more planet-friendly future. Small changes add up to big effects.