Online shopping has become a convenient alternative to physically visiting a shop and making a purchase. It even opened opportunities for small businesses and delivery companies to reach a wider market and help the economy to bounce back after the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the rapid increase of online shopping poses another serious concern: the growing volume of packaging waste and carbon emissions.
Before the pandemic, about 19 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions came from parcel and freight shipping — and it’s expected to increase by up to 25 million tons by 2030. With this implication in mind, a growing number of consumers are pushing online retailers and the delivery industry to adopt sustainable and eco-friendly strategies.
This article will discuss five of the best practices for eco-friendly shipping that can help businesses transform their delivery process.
Consider Ground Shipping
Air freight is the fastest method for transporting items globally, which is why many businesses prefer to use it when shipping orders to another state or country. However, this option can be quite expensive, is prone to delays, and possesses greater environmental damage.
A more environmentally friendly method to deliver packages is through ground shipping. This system offers a more affordable alternative to air freight shipping. It’s also more suitable for transporting bulky and heavy items such as pieces of furniture or automobiles that take up too much space in an aircraft.
What’s more, ground shipping has shorter delays. Air couriers may have to postpone their delivery for a day or two if there is a storm, but road transportation is likely to resume operations immediately.
However, a major disadvantage of ground shipping is that customers will have to wait longer to receive their items. Still, many of them are willing to wait a few more days if it means reducing their carbon footprint.
Consolidating orders means simultaneously sending out several orders in one shipment. This method becomes much easier when multiple orders are addressed to the same location. Its benefits include faster shipping, less packaging waste, and lower shipping costs.
Moreover, businesses reduce their carbon emissions as they use less packaging materials and fuel as they package and ship more orders together. Consolidating customer orders also makes it easier for both the retailer and customer to track the orders.
This practice can also help retailers build a positive image for their brand, especially now as more shoppers are choosing businesses that have eco-friendly operations.
Switch to Eco-friendly Packaging
Packaging is an essential part of any business, especially if the item needs to be shipped, as it keeps the products safe and also helps the brand establish its name. However, most packaging materials are not environmentally friendly — making them significant contributors to waste that end up in landfills.
Fortunately, there are now eco-friendly packaging options that businesses can use when delivering their products. Sustainable materials like compostable mailers, biodegradable packing peanuts, and pre-used papers are just some materials retailers can use to reduce their carbon footprint.
Businesses can also minimize their environmental impact by using recycled content. Doing so also allows them to support the recycling industry and make recycled materials more affordable and widespread.
Reduce the Size of Packaging Materials
Along with using eco-friendly materials, retailers should also focus on getting the correct packaging sizes for their products. Getting boxes or mailers that fit according to the dimensions of the items allow businesses to reduce the need for fillers, while still ensuring that the products are packed as efficiently as possible.
It also reduces the dimensional weight during shipment, thereby lowering the cost of delivery. There are now improved packaging systems that help businesses fulfill this strategy.
Such methods are the result of continuous innovations to eliminate the need for single-use packaging materials and make the shipping industry more eco-friendly.
Offset Carbon Emissions
Even if businesses adopt all eco-friendly shipping practices, fully eliminating their carbon footprint remains impossible. Transporting goods will still require the use of fuel and materials that contribute to the excessive release of carbon dioxide.
Retailers can consider purchasing carbon offsets to make up for the harmful emissions from shipping and other unsustainable practices. Doing so supports organizations that remove or eliminate carbon emissions produced by various industries.
Offsetting carbon emissions shows that the business genuinely cares for the environment without putting the responsibility on the customers’ shoulders. It may also increase customer loyalty and improve brand perception, especially among eco-conscious patrons.
There are a lot of worries when it comes to adopting new business strategies, and switching to eco-friendly practices is no exception. Prices are likely to increase to compensate for eco-friendly yet expensive packaging materials, and delivery time will take longer as retailers take on sustainable but slower shipping methods.
Still, brands that operate environmentally friendly businesses are posed to gain greater benefits in the long run. The new generation of consumers is more eco-conscious and willing to be patrons of retailers that have sustainable business operations — making it even more important for brands to adopt green strategies.