Almost every online order fulfilled means another cardboard box shipped to a consumer. It should come as no surprise that cardboard boxes are contributing an unprecedented amount to overall cardboard waste. As environmental concerns grow, companies are beginning to look for sustainable alternatives to ship their products.
Why Cardboard Has Been a Popular Choice for Retailers
The classic cardboard box has dominated the shipping industry since 1890. Retail stores are filled with products encased in dyed paper and plastic packages, but it’s cardboard boxes that got them there. Cardboard boxes started out plain and practical to play their part in the supply chain. However, the rise of e-commerce changed the perspective of companies. Cardboard boxes quickly became an opportunity for establishing a brand.
Popular businesses that support online shopping including Amazon and Target started incorporating their brand name and even playful images or slogans onto their cardboard boxes. These new designs were created with the intention of making an impression on consumers and representing the brand’s purpose to those who didn’t come face-to-face with their store.
New Options for More Sustainable Packaging
Companies are presently being challenged to come up with an environmentally friendly alternative to shipping product in cardboard boxes that still represents their brand. 3M, a manufacturing company operating out of Minnesota, has redesigned bubble wrap to contribute to this change. Their effort is geared towards reducing the amount of packaging needed to ship smaller items. Plastic envelopes lined with bubble wrap are perceived as a better alternative to boxes because they take up less space. Even though the packages are smaller, these envelopes are limited to specific sizes that are sometimes too big for what’s being shipped.
To eliminate these barriers associated with making smarter shipping choices, 3M released its Flex & Seal Shipping Rolls. The material is a padded envelope that is sold on a roll instead of assembled packages. The new design gives consumers the ability to personalize the size of their envelopes to an appropriate size for what they’re shipping. Eliminating the use of oversized envelopes and unnecessary cardboard boxes with Flex & Seal Shipping Rolls will drastically reduce the waste oversized packaging creates.
Happy Returns, a consumer retail and e-commerce return service, is taking a different approach by eliminating boxes and single-use packaging altogether. The company is adopting the use of totes made of recycled plastic to reduce the cardboard waste they create by packaging and shipping return items for consumers. The new reusable container will minimize the amount of cardboard required for return shipments by 73% in weight and 92% in area.
Happy Returns and 3M are frontrunners in the effort to reduce packaging waste. E-commerce businesses and retail stores dependent on online sales will follow suit as environmental concerns continue to grow. The next time you order something online, be sure to keep your eye out for a more sustainable form of packaging upon delivery!