Packaging Sustainability in E-commerce – How to fix it!
I think we all agree that as consumers, we LOVE e-commerce. How can we not appreciate the incredible variety and selection of products now, almost instantly available to us with a few clicks on our favorite internet linked device?
Companies are so focused on efficiency that quite often it is accomplished at the expense of sustainability. As we approach that busiest time of the e-commerce year, fulfillment companies scramble to fill orders quickly and they become even less careful about what they ship out or its impact on the environment.
An example of terrible packaging
The photo above is a great example. The wireless keyboard we ordered measures 18” X 8” X 2-3/4” or 396 cubic inches. Unfortunately, it was shipped in a box that is 23” X 14” X 7-1/2” high or a whopping 2,415 cubic inches. That means this product shipped in a box that was over SIX times larger than it really required. The only way to correct this mismatch was to add more packaging, in this case eighteen feet of an inflatable void fill product. Some might look at the cushioning material and say, “at least it is a green, recyclable, void fill product”. I am not going to debate its environmental merits at this time, and I am not going to question the wisdom of shipping such an oversized box in the days of dimensional shipping rates. I will however call it what it is – totally unnecessary packaging!
Smart e-commerce companies do the right thing in terms of sustainability!
Compare that photo to the one on the left for a similar size set of the Misen knives. Check them out at www.misen.co. It is an excellent company, and while they care about packing and shipping efficiency, they are also concerned about presentation and packaging sustainability as well as shipping economics. The box looks great, and it is perfectly sized, so it does an excellent job of protecting the product being shipped without additional cushioning or void fill material. For all the benefits of their packaging choices, you might think they are spending more, but the fact is the opposite is true. They recognized the value of sustainable packaging and the positive impact it has on every aspect of their business, including the “unboxing experience” they want their customers to have and remember.
Sustainability is complicated, perhaps more than it needs to be. Some companies try to dazzle with details and science. Years ago, we coined a term that still applies: “common sense sustainability” and it begins with using the minimal and right packaging product for each application. There is no one size fits all solution and there are many variables, so we always suggest discussing your specific needs with someone who understands sustainability, as much as they understand e-commerce.
Please contact us via our Salazar Packaging web site or call us at 630-551-1700 to discuss your project with one of our experienced, trained branded-packaging advisors. I am confident we will be able to help you create an attractive, eco-friendly, e-commerce package design at minimal cost.