If you consistently ship goods to customers and clients, you know that, in order to consistently deliver a product that arrives in one piece, quality packaging is the key. But if you're trying to be mindful about your environmental footprint as a company, the type of packaging you choose and the kind of customer benefits you provide can really make a difference in how much paper, plastic, and styrofoam make it into landfills.
1. Choose only recycled packing materials.
This is one of the easiest ways to make sure that you are going green with your packaging choices. Talk to your packaging supplier about the percentage of recycled paper and wood that goes into making your cardboard corrugated boxes. The higher the percentage, the less raw materials you will "waste" with a package. If your packaging must also include paper inside the box, opt for recycled newspaper.
You can even print the percentage of recycled materials on your boxes where customers will see it. This way, those who are environmentally conscious will be more likely to choose your company again. Also, people will be reminded that cardboard boxes are easy to recycle, thinking twice about throwing them away.
2. Use biodegradable products when possible.
Packing peanuts and bubblewrap used to be based off of petroleum derivatives. In fact, experts estimate that traditional styrofoam will take over a million years to biodegrade. Thankfully, there are newer products that are available for padding instead. Inflatable air bags can be used to take up space in boxes. Some packing peanuts can be made from corn starch, which easily breaks down. Other types of styrofoam have been derived using clay and milk. Plastic packaging can now be made from plants instead of oil, so they break down more effectively in a landfill than standard plastics.
3. Provide customer incentives to recycle.
Even though your provide customer packaging, a lot of waste reduction comes from the actions of your clients. Therefore, as a company, you can try to offer incentives for your consumers so that they are more environmentally aware. For example, you could
- give slight discounts or free shipping for people who choose to wait longer so that multiple orders can be packed and mailed together in one box, instead of in several boxes.
- have reward points for those who show proof of recycling. Because many states don't offer recycling as a public service, a customer showing that they pay for a private recycling service could afford them certain benefits when ordering from your company.
- provide free package return/recycling bins at your warehouses for cardboard boxes and plastics.
- promote earth-friendly products on specific holidays, like Earth Day. On other holidays, encourage customers to order early so that more gifts can be shipped together, instead of rushed at the last minute.
4. Invest in reusable shipping containers.
The idea of shipping items in reusable containers may seem unwise at first. However, if you have a company that caters to recurring customers or monthly orders, like snacks, clothing, or make-up subscriptions, reusable boxes are a great idea. During the first order, a customer would buy a box with the product. Then, the customer can send the box back (free of postage charges) for a refund on the box. This way, packages are reused, reducing overall environmental impact. Talk with your shipping provider about the possibility of using reusable boxes. Let your customers know why they are paying a deposit; you might be surprised how many get on board with the idea, as caring for the planet is becoming ever more popular.
Going green with packaging is one of the best ways to promote your image as an Earth-friendly company. Implementing these ideas can really help improve the environmental awareness of your company.