The rise of the online marketplace has led to an ever-increasing need for packaged goods. Over the past few decades, the number of products ordered remotely and shipped to businesses and homes has skyrocketed. The mass closing of department stores around the country shows that online shopping and shipping will remain dominant for the foreseeable future.
Your business sits at the nexus of the shipping chain because you decide what packaging to use. If your business has committed itself to sustainability, then you should explore ways to reduce the impact of the packaging you buy. Environmental technology advances have made sustainable shipping practices more cost effective than ever, so the transition should not burden your company much, if at all.
What Is Sustainable Packaging?
Sustainable packaging refers to both the materials and the procedures used in preparing items for shipping. When a company pledges to package goods in a sustainable manner, it has committed to using the least amount of materials possible while still shipping the item safely. Those materials should be biodegradable, easily recyclable, or something that the customers themselves can reuse.
The good news lies in the fact that sustainable shipping practices don't have to cost more than traditional materials and procedures. In fact, over the long run, they could save some companies money.
Use Corrugated Paper or Cardboard as Much as Possible
This represents the easiest step. Shippers traditionally use cardboard boxes for shipping. Cardboard costs less than other alternatives, often is made of recycled materials, can be easily recycled in itself, and potentially provides the customer with an item they can reuse.
Some companies have gone beyond boxes, using cardboard to replace Styrofoam molding. While also useful and cheap, Styrofoam does not biodegrade easily. The rise in cardboard molding to replace Styrofoam is a recent, but effective development in environmental technology.
Encourage Minimal Packaging
The first priority of shipping lies in getting the customer their product as safely as possible. Right behind that, it makes both economic and environmental sense to make sure you use the least amount of packaging possible.
Incorporate an Industrial Shredder
Outside of the initial investment in equipment, using an industrial shredder to create filler can save a remarkable amount of money in the long term. The shredder can transform waste paper and cardboard material into filler that can replace Styrofoam peanuts.
Your customers will also appreciate the change because shredded paper filler disposes and recycles more easily than Styrofoam peanuts. Also, few packaging items cause more annoyance on the customer end than a plethora of those peanuts. Trust us, no one will miss them.
Use Biodegradable Loose Filler
Smaller companies, however, may not generate enough waste to follow the industrial shredder idea. For these companies, biodegradable and recycled paper filler can also replace the traditional use of Styrofoam peanuts.
Train Your Staff on the Benefits of Sustainable Packaging
One of the big boosts to sustainable practices lies in getting your staff to buy in. When trying to convince staff, or even company leadership in some cases, on the value of sustainable packaging, appeal to practical reasoning. Not everyone shares deep-seated environmental concerns, but everyone understands more efficient and less costly ways to accomplish a goal.
When done right, sustainable packaging saves time and money while reducing environmental impact, both in materials used and also in waste created. It also does not present a radical departure from traditional practices.
Conduct a Comprehensive Packaging Review
Once you have decided to embrace the concept of sustainable packaging, conduct a comprehensive review of waste and packaging practices. Find ways to reduce the use of freshly bought materials while embracing products that biodegrade and recycle easily. Tie them to cost and time-saving ideas whenever possible to ensure that all company leaders and staff see the benefit, whether from an efficiency or an environmental standpoint.