There are several reasons to choose eco-friendly packaging for your Ecommerce products. One big one is Amazon’s eco-friendly initiative. Another, which actually ties into the first, is customer preference. Then there’s eco laws and cost concerns to consider.
Let’s dive into what eco-friendly packaging is, what it means for your business, and how to get started.
What is Eco-Friendly Packaging?
Any packaging can be considered eco-friendly when it’s made of sustainable materials that won’t harm the environment. For example, eco-friendly packaging can be made of natural materials, compostable or biodegradable, reusable, recycled and/or recyclable, non-toxic, and/or manufactured through low-impact means.
Glass bottles, for example, do not easily break down, but they can be reused an infinite number of times over the span of a million years, unlike plastic bottles. Not having to repeat the manufacturing process saves a lot of valuable non-renewable resources and greatly reduces harmful environmental effects. And if the bottles break, they can be recycled.
It’s even better when you can use less packaging that’s made of renewable resources through low-impact manufacturing processes and is compostable to enrich the soil.
Eco-Friendly Packaging in Ecommerce
The average person in America today throws away about 1.32 pounds of packaging materials every single day. This is about a third of the total average amount of trash that each person generates. This is largely due to the rise of Ecommerce and the convenience of having items shipped rather than physically going to a store.
The problem with Ecommerce is that customers can’t feasibly bring back their reusable bags and boxes when they place another order. This only works in the physical shopping world. So, Ecommerce stores must provide a new shipping box and other packaging materials for each order. This creates a huge amount of waste that increases the environmental strain placed on our already stressed planet.
Advantages of Eco-Friendly Packaging
The biggest question for Ecommerce store owners is whether or not it’s worth it to move to eco-friendly packaging. This shift will require creativity, re-thinking packaging strategies and streamlining processes. Are sustainable practices worth the time and effort?
The short answer is, yes – despite the looming question of upfront costs.
Let’s dive into the details of why your brand needs eco-friendly packaging:
1. Getting in Line with Amazon’s Stand
Amazon is committed to reducing their carbon footprint in the area of fulfillment by reducing overall packaging waste. One of the ways they do this is by using eco-friendly packaging. They are also actively researching and applying packaging techniques that allow them to use as little material as possible while still ensuring product safety during transport.
Amazon sellers are encouraged to adopt the same eco-friendly packaging principles that Amazon has invested in by becoming part of their Frustration Free Packaging program.
2. Brand Image and Reputation
Eco-friendly packaging is a great way to boost brand image and reputation. Responsible businesses are seen as more trustworthy. And because of consumer consciousness, eco-friendly brands are more appealing, even if their products are more highly priced.
Consider as well the fact that Millennial and Gen Z consumers are a higher ticket audience. Businesses that embrace the trend of eco-friendly packaging can gain a loyal following of repeat business from this audience. And the more sustainable your practices are, the longer you can stay in business as the trend grows and expands.
3. Cost Benefit
Creating and using eco-friendly packaging is much more cost-effective, contrary to popular belief. Amazon’s efforts have proved this. Going green means reducing the amount of materials used, which reduces manufacturing, packaging, and even shipping costs. Moreover, sustainable businesses can take advantage of certain financial incentives and tax deductions.
Aside from the clear savings upfront, there’s the increased chance of converting more with eco-friendly packaging. More than half of all consumers worldwide will choose a product that has eco-friendly packaging over another product, even if it’s priced higher.
4. Government Policy
More than an Ecommerce trend, eco-friendly packaging is being supported more and more by governments around the world. Trash is a long-term problem that every country must face.
Take the common plastic bag for instance. In Morocco, plastic bags have been banned. In Kenya, using or selling plastic bags can lead to a hefty fine or a 4-year jail term. China, the Philippines, and other countries have also moved to make these landfill nightmares obsolete.
The wise choice for businesses is to start looking into eco-friendly packaging now before it becomes a more costly problem that can interrupt production and sales.
Creating Eco-Friendly Packaging
To make your distribution process more environmentally conscious, you need to plan for it and strategically implement it. You don’t have to go as far as Amazon has with their own packaging laboratory – there are third party services that can help you conceptualize eco-friendly packaging. But you need to fully optimize your new sustainable packaging system.
Here are the main points to consider:
Focus on using as little packaging as possible (without sacrificing product safety, of course). This includes the amount of inner packaging as well as the overall size of the whole. Keep your packaging clean and streamlined. It not only reduces material cost but also looks sleek.
Don’t forget that this reduction includes expensive packaging text and image printing, and using natural inks like soy ink. Use lighter weight materials whenever possible, but make sure to choose the more sustainable options.
Focus on using only materials that are compostable or at least quickly and easily biodegrade. If that isn’t possible, use materials that are reusable and recyclable.
For instance, cardboard and paperboard made of bamboo are more sustainable and easier to recycle than plastic. If that won’t work, choose biodegradable plastics or packaging made from cornstarch. You can also explore bagasse, reed or glass fibers.
You can also choose longer-lasting packaging materials that are designed to be reused by consumers. Examples of this are glass containers for food items that can be used as drinking glasses, cardboard boxes that convert into sturdy stools or side tables, and stylish cloth or paper bags. This angle also boosts brand recognition and awareness as your name and/or logo remain visible for longer and to more people.
Get in touch with a reputable packaging manufacturer that does eco-friendly packaging to explore more options that best suit your needs.
In line with the eco-friendly packaging trend, your focus should be on minimizing waste to reduce your carbon footprint. You can achieve this by using compostable or recycled materials, or designing packaging that customers will want to reuse – or a combination of both.
Other brands have embraced eco-friendly packaging so fully that they are targeting the use of existing waste materials like non-biodegradable plastic bottles and even leaves to make innovative packaging. How far you want to take it for your brand is a mission decision that you need to make and stick to as early as the planning stage.
Just don’t forget that the main point of packaging is to ensure that your product arrives in the customer’s hands in perfect condition. Combine functionality and sustainability in your packaging designs and you’ll crush eco-friendly packaging.