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5 Brands That Are Using Sustainable Packaging to Boost Social Sharing — and Social Good

The rapid surge in e-commerce sales has led to an increase in package waste. These brands are incorporating sustainable packaging into their fulfilment processes.

E-commerce sales jumped a whopping 49 percent in April in response to COVID-19, and since then, online retailers have been scrambling to keep up with the increased demand in shipments. In addition to using more boxes or bags, there is also more in-the-box protection used to make sure the package contents make it safely to its destination. If the materials are not properly disposed of, this additional packaging may lead to a rise in consumer waste.

In spite of all this increased consumption, online shoppers still care about the environmental impact of their purchases. In a recent survey, 83 percent of consumers said they considered the environment at the checkout screen, including the excessive waste it might be generating, and the increase in their carbon footprint. In that same study, 78 percent of respondents said that companies could be doing more to mitigate packaging waste.

More and more brands are becoming conscious about their impact on the environment. Eco-friendly products in the fashion, personal care, and other sectors have been popular for years. But now those same values are being extended to their packaging and fulfilment strategies, and mainstream companies are joining them.

With the uncertainty of in-person retail is amplified by COVID-19, deliveries and the unboxing experiences are becoming one of the primary ways for brands to build a relationship with their consumers. And part of that relationship is about honouring the sanctity of the environment.

Here are 5 brands using sustainable packaging to make a lasting impact on consumers:

 

Calvin Klein

PVH, the global apparel company that owns Calvin Klein, has committed to having packaging that is made of 100 percent sustainable and ethically sourced materials by 2025. And the company has made some landmark strides towards this effort. Currently, 74 percent of Calvin Klein’s packaging is recyclable. They've also saved over 200.000 kg plastic annually by changing to a thinner material for their clothing packaging.

 

Patagonia

Patagonia has been leading the way in sustainability and environmentally responsible clothing and accessories for longer than this has even been something consumers cared about, and they have robust environmental, social, and fair trade initiatives deeply embedded in their protocols and company culture.

Recycling has also been of paramount importance to the company. Currently, 68 percent of their clothing line uses recycled material, and their website has detailed instructions on how customers can recycle their garments when they no longer want to wear them. This eco-mindset has extended to making order fulfilment as sustainable as possible. In 2014 they embarked on a mission to reduce package volume to cut down on waste and lower their carbon footprint by requiring fewer trips to make deliveries.

Asconsumers become increasingly aware of the impact their online purchasing habits can have on the environment, brands that tout eco-friendly packaging will have a larger market share. Pregis’ Portfolio offers a number of sustainable packaging solutions, including 100 percent recycled packing paper, Renew cushions with 50 % post consumer recycled content and Renew-S cushions, made from waste of plant-based sources so retailers can protect their shipments from damage, without harming the environment.

 

ASOS

ASOS is recognised as a giant in the e-commerce industry, and while few of its products have any characteristics of sustainability, the company has made sure to have mitigation of packaging waste be at the forefront of its environmental policies.

Recently, the company modified their signature black and white mailer bags and reduced their thickness by ten to twenty microns. This small change translated into reducing their impact by 528,000 kg of plastic annually. With ambitions to become a circular fashion business, ASOS has also implemented a closed loop system with their packaging manufacturer to collect returned packaging and incorporate it into the new mailing bags.

Pregis’ Sharp poly bag systems are another strategy for mitigating waste. They offer on demand, low-waste shipping solutions. The poly bags can be custom printed to enhance the customer experience.

 

Amazon

Largely responsible for transforming e-commerce into the juggernaut that it is today, Amazon has an unusual level of influence over brands. In their Frustration Free Packaging initiative, they work with brands on strategies to eliminate supply chain waste and redesign their packaging to be more sustainable while still ensuring they arrive to customers undamaged. One of the biggest successes to come from this programme is Tide’s new “eco-box,” which uses 60 percent less plastic than their traditional packaging. The Ship In Own Container programme developed by Amazon also encourages brands to reduce packaging waste by redesigning retail packages to be shipping friendly. While this change limits branding and visual appeal of the retail ready packaging that many CPGs have spent significant time and money developing, it challenges companies to connect with consumers in other creative ways to maintain brand loyalty.

One of their most recent initiatives, Shipment Zero, was introduced in 2019, and aims to make 50 percent of all of their shipments net carbon zero by the year 2030. The company aims to achieve this by upgrading more of its infrastructure to 100 percent renewable energy, including using electric vehicles, biobased fuels in aviation, as well as integrating more reusable packaging.

 

Allbirds

This sustainable shoe company has a lot of things going for it, but one of its primary differentiators is the fact that it uses the exact same box for both retail and shipping. The signature box is made using 90 percent post-consumer recycled material, and from paper that is certified by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council). This is all part of a larger company-wide effort to go completely carbon neutral. (In 2019, Pregis received an FSC Chain of Custody Mix certification for Easypack paper products.)

 

 

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