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Committing to Eco-Friendly Packaging Practices Can Save Your Company Money

By Allison McGuire, writer
Mar 01, 2018
Image Credit: Baramee Thaweesombat/Shutterstock
> Technology

Eco-friendly packaging is good for your bottom line, and for your customers.

Whether you’re running a brick-and-mortar business or managing a fulfilment center, the impact of the choices you make when it comes to packaging your products cannot be understated. By opting for eco-friendly processes and materials, you can reduce your carbon footprint, minimize overhead costs, and make a lasting positive impression among consumers who are increasingly choosing to support businesses that champion transparency and sustainability.

Of course, the most obvious benefit of eco-friendly packaging is that it reduces waste and cuts costs by minimizing the amount of packaging material used to ship goods. But how does a brand commit to eco-friendly packaging without breaking the bank? It’s easier than you might think, and can actually yield savings in the long term.

There are three surefire strategies your business can adopt to optimize for sustainability. By using lightweight materials to package products, prioritizing durability to minimize the need for returns, and improving returns processing in general, you can be sure you’re helping the environment without sacrificing consumer happiness. 

1. Lightweight packaging materials alleviate shipping costs and make customers’ lives easier.

Lightweight and sustainable materials are becoming the top choice for environmentally-minded (and financially-savvy) businesses. After all, the lighter the packaging, the less it costs to ship your products – not to mention that it makes for less waste on the receiving end. With this in mind, materials such as molded pulp, jute and plastic films have become industry favorites.

What’s more, a commitment to sustainability earns high marks with customers, boosting long-term business. Opting for green packaging – especially lightweight options that cut down on material waste – sets your company apart as trustworthy and respectable in the eyes of consumers. Streamlined packaging made with recycled materials enhances the overall customer experience by generating less waste and easing personal environmental concerns. 

2. The right balance between lightweight design and heavy-duty durability eliminates waste while protecting products.

The materials you use to ship your products must be durable enough to protect the contents of any package along a sometimes tumultuous journey from the warehouse to the customer’s doorstep.

For example, an electronics company may use packaging that consists of 100 percent post-consumer recycled materials, but if the shipping box is not strong enough to protect the customer’s smart TV or gaming console, the company will be faced with the (ultimately avoidable) costs associated with handling the return, as well as potentially losing a valuable customer who has received a damaged product. While eco-friendly packaging should certainly be a priority, the durability of these materials must be given equal weight. Otherwise, you’re looking at long-term expenses that may cancel out any gains you’ve made from your decision to go green. 

3. A smarter returns process cuts down on logistical headaches for your team while minimizing extraneous packaging and carbon emissions.

Return rates are consistently higher for e-commerce sales than brick-and-mortar retail. All of those returns add up, which means it’s important to design smart, reusable packaging that eliminates waste and facilitates the reverse logistics process for retailers.

For example, more and more companies now include a return package with product shipments. This can help make the returns process easier for customers, but it also comes at an added cost to both your company and the environment. Instead of providing extra materials, include a return mailing label and use packaging that can be used both to deliver the product and to handle any returns.

Above all, e-commerce packaging trends reflect a desire to accommodate changing consumer attitudes and purchasing behaviors. Understanding what customers expect in their packaging while staying on top of eco-friendly practices can help you stay ahead of the curve.

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Allison McGuire
Allison McGuire
See Allison McGuire's Profile
Allison is the Director of Marketing at Paper Mart, a fourth generation owned and operated family business, and the largest discount packaging supply company in the U.S. They work with both B2C and B2B customers, with a focus on cost-effective, eco-friendly packaging solutions.
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