Eco-friendly practices are becoming the norm in both small and large businesses. Companies in the eCommerce industry stand to make considerable improvements in their waste reduction by using eco-friendly packaging practices. Containers and packaging create about 30% of the municipal waste in the USA every year, so reducing this waste can contribute significantly to nationwide sustainability goals.
Eco-friendly packaging options like recyclable packages and plantable packages are an excellent place to start. For companies looking to reduce waste on the worksite, compostable trash bags are a great option. Beyond packaging options, companies can spread educational messages to reduce consumer end waste.
Explore these seven eco-friendly packaging tips to help your company transition to a greener workplace.
Tips to Reduce eCommerce Waste
While eCommerce is not the only contributor to municipal waste, it uses a substantial amount of packaging so that it can reduce significant amounts of waste. The best ways to minimize eCommerce waste are eliminating over-packing, using alternative packaging materials like recyclable packages and educating consumers on the best waste reduction practices.
1. Eliminate excessive packaging.
Excessive packaging occurs when products are packed into a box that is too large and with more filler material than is necessary. Not only is this a huge waste of materials, but it is also the most frustrating part about receiving packages for 20% of consumers.
Not many companies are willingly overpackaging their products because it is a waste of money, and consumers do not appreciate it. It occurs when there are no correctly sized packaging materials available in a warehouse or a third-party logistics company.
To eliminate excessive packaging when new products are stored in a warehouse, they should have packaging blueprints associated with their SKU so that the correct packages are stocked. Stocking a variety of package sizes ensures the right size is used and no excess package filler is necessary.
2. Invest in recyclable packaging.
Recycling packaging materials is a great way to reduce waste in the eCommerce supply chain; however, some packaging materials are better suited for recycling than others. For instance, there is a massive difference in plastic packaging recycling rate compared to paper packaging.
The EPA reports that plastic packaging is recycled 13.6% of the time, with another 16.9% being reused in energy recovery processes. Like corrugated boxes and paper package filler, paper packaging is recycled 80.9% of the time. The massive difference between these two materials’ recycling rates is partially explained by customer confusion about what plastics can be recycled. Invest in high-quality plastics that you know can be recycled so your customers can easily recycle the packaging.
3. Educate consumers on waste reduction.
As shown by the plastic recycling data, educating the consumer on what can and cannot be recycled is important for reducing packaging waste. Clear labels on every piece of packaging that inform consumers about its proper disposal is an excellent place to start. Since every region can have different plastic recycling rules, including instructions about where to find local recycling guidelines is also a good practice.
4. Use biodegradable packaging.
While recycling is a suitable waste reduction option for packaging, it is far from perfect because items can only be recycled a certain number of times. Biodegradable packaging is an alternative option that does not share this issue. You can dispose of a biodegradable package, and it will dissipate into the environment without leaving behind any harmful residues like microplastics.
Compostable bags, mushroom filler inserts and biodegradable paper fillers are all available. While these products are more expensive than plastic and paper alternatives, the biodegradable industry is innovating and growing quickly, so prices may be falling soon. Separate from price considerations, biodegradable packaging is sure to reduce your eCommerce company’s waste substantially.
Non-eCommerce Waste Reduction Tips
Companies not in the eCommerce industry also want to pursue sustainable initiatives, and eco-friendly packaging can help. Whether in the office or on a construction site, some practices and products can help your company reduce waste.
5. Start composting in the office.
Creating a compost bin is a great way to reduce food waste and paper waste in an office. Compost can divert food, paper, paper towels from the bathroom and green waste from going to the landfill. When done correctly, there should not be any unsavory smells, and it should not attract unwanted pests.
A composting bin requires continuous maintenance like soil rotation and moisture monitoring, so a company may need to designate a person responsible for the bin. Another option is to have compostable bags to collect compostable waste, and then give the full bags to a composting business.
6. Use, and reuse, strong contractor bags.
If you are a contractor, landscaper or generally deal with tough to dispose of materials, you could reduce waste with durable contractor trash bags. Contractor bags are built to contain nails, wood, brush and all types of materials that rip through lesser trash bags. The bag’s thickness ranges from 1.2 millimeters up to 6 millimeters for the toughest materials. Their durability makes them suitable for multiple uses.
7. Centralize office recycling.
It may seem counterintuitive to remove under-the-desk recycling containers, but replacing them with one or two centralized trash and recycling centers should reduce office waste. This forces employees to sort their waste into the appropriate container instead of throwing their trash and recycling into their desk bin without thinking about the process. Central waste centers also reduce the number of trash liners your company uses.
Reduce Waste One Step at a Time
While there are many ways companies can reduce their waste, especially if they are involved in eCommerce, it is advisable to change your operations one sustainable step at a time. Introducing new sustainable practices like using new recyclable packaging, or centralizing your office’s waste management, includes research, implementation and trial and error.
Give your company time to assimilate to a change before moving on to the next stage in your plan for waste reduction. Over time, your company will reduce waste considerably without overwhelming employees and existing systems.