5 tips for greener packaging
Shipping is an energy-intensive process and no matter your best intentions, it can be difficult to find a greener option. Alongside transport emissions, the packaging is a major offender. Packing materials can end up in landfill and many go through carbon dense production processes. Getting your business’s packaging under control is a crucial first step towards becoming more green.
#1 Use sustainable materials
Sustainable packaging comes in all shapes and sizes, but this usually means avoiding plastic in favor of biodegradable options like cardboard and paper. Opt for packaging that can be recycled, and include this clearly to encourage the customer to follow through. Sustainability isn’t just about recycling, though. Make sure that the material was manufactured using sustainable, low impact production methods. Get to know where your packaging comes from and don’t be afraid to change if needs be.
#2 Reuse what you can’t recycle
If you can’t use recyclable packaging like cardboard, then reusable comes a close second. Pallets and bale ties are good examples of this. While these aren’t always immediately recyclable they can be used multiple times. Pallets are easy to repurpose and many companies now choose to go down the reconditioned route rather than ordering brand new ones. Single loop bale ties are useful for bundling together metals, cardboards and even clothes. They’re easy to reuse and don’t have to be disposed of after one use.
#3 Offer a returns program
Choosing reusable packing is one thing, but it’s no good if you don’t offer some kind of returns program. You need to give your customers the ability to send back any packaging that they don’t use so that you can put it to better use. This might involve an extensive cleaning and repurposing process (as is the case with wooden pallets), but in some cases it can be more bespoke. Depending on what your company sells, the same customers can feasibly send their packaging back to you and then receive their next order in the same container.
#4 Ship items in bulk
One of the best ways to cut down on packaging is to ship items in bulk rather than individually. This saves money and has the knock on effect of reducing air miles too. Your business might sell something like cushions. Rather than selling just one, offer them in sets. Customers might be reluctant to pay full price for a set, but by shipping in bulk you can also order in bulk and offer that set at a lower price. You’ll make big savings on packaging and drastically reduce your business’s carbon footprint.
#5 Reduce size
Most companies use packaging that’s much too large for the product they’re shipping. This creates waste, and in an era where consumers are more environmentally conscious than ever, it might even put people off your business. Vacuum sealing can make a big difference in some cases (taking air out of the package saves more space than you might think), but tailoring packaging to individual products is the most important step.
Rather than shipping in generically sized packages, opt for made-to-measure solutions that cut down on waste.