Sustainable Shipping Methods & Tips

Recycling shipping boxes

Last updated on February 21st, 2022 at 03:01 pm

E-commerce popularity is on the rise, and is only going up from here. That means shipping is not slowing down. As convenient as shipping is, it contributes a significant amount to municipal solid waste each year. In fact, product packaging makes up about 82.2 million tons of waste per year. It is surprisingly simple to reduce your business’s packaging impact by making some small changes. Follow Printivity’s sustainable shipping methods and tips to lessen your business’s impact on the environment from year to year.

While the state of the environment has always been on people’s minds, it has been at the forefront over the past year even more. As a business, it’s important to listen to the desires of your customers. It helps when their desires also benefit the environment. Offering sustainable shipping options will not only improve your impact on the environment, it will also please your customers to see that you not only care about what they want, but what is good for the environment as well. 

Understanding shipping materials

In order to choose your materials wisely for sustainable shipping methods, you’ll need to understand where the material comes from and what happens to them once disposed of. Taking it a step further, you’ll want to think about the warehouse and transportation carbon footprint as well. 

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What is sustainable shipping? Shipping materials are currently produced in three ways; from virgin materials, partially recycled materials or 100% recycled materials. Ideally, you will want to avoid virgin materials, but this is not always an option. Virgin materials are natural resources that are extracted in their raw form. Examples include timber, mined/processed metals, and plastic resin derived from petroleum refining processes. It is crucial you pay attention to where the materials come from in order to make the best decision. Some plant-based packaging options can actually do more harm than good as it can require the clearing of forests in order to create more room for new plants to grow. 

Consider your warehousing and transportation carbon footprint

Carbon emissions during warehousing and transportation are an often overlooked and forgotten aspect to consider when it comes to sustainable shipping methods and reducing your carbon footprint. You may not realize it, but even the amount of space an item takes up before it is used makes a difference. For example, the larger the package you have, the less room there is for other packages in a warehouse or on a delivery truck. This results in the need for more warehouse space and more trucks. Warehouses and trucks require electricity and fuel to run, so the more of them you need, the more electricity and gas you are using. If you can reduce the space your package takes up, you can fit more into a warehouse or onto a truck, and lower the carbon footprint for each material. Using custom-sized shipping boxes can help solve this particular issue. Not only will they save space by taking up less room, they will also save you money as you won’t be wasting shipping expenses on excess package space.

Trash and recycling cans next to each other

How will your customer dispose of the materials?

You’ll also want to keep in mind what will happen to the materials when the consumer is done with them. The best sustainable material options are green materials that the consumer can recycle, reuse, or compost. Compostable packaging is a great option, but if you opt for this one, you’ll want to keep in mind how long it takes for the material to degrade. The shorter the amount of time, the better. Keep in mind that not all materials can be easily recycled by the consumer. Some materials require industrial-grade recycling and composting services, which means most consumers will end up throwing the materials away instead of taking them somewhere to be properly recycled. Other factors that play a role in how easy, or hard, it is to recycle materials are things such as printing methods, coatings or combining multiple materials. 

Choosing sustainable materials

Once you understand the lifecycle of your shipping materials, you can make an educated decision to find more environmentally friendly and sustainable materials that will work for you. Not to worry though, you don’t have to sacrifice looks, you can still send your products in shipping boxes that fit your brand, while taking steps to reduce your impact on the environment. Cardboard and paper products made using recycled materials and eco-friendly manufacturing processes are some of the most sustainable options out there.

Sustainable shipping materials go beyond just the shipping box itself. Keep in mind what you use to protect the items inside. Instead of packing peanuts, opt for a more sustainable option such as cornstarch packaging, air pillows made of recycled materials, or seaweed packaging to name a few options. 

Cardboard boxes flattened and staked next to each other.

Reduce waste and save money with custom-sized shipping boxes

As I mentioned above, not only do custom-size sustainable shipping boxes help reduce your carbon footprint, they also save you money. By investing in custom-size shipping boxes, you’ll avoid spending money shipping items in boxes way too big for them. All that excess space may not seem like much, but it adds up when it comes to shipping. On top of that, the more space your packages take up in the warehouse or on the truck, the less room there is for other packages. Space saved is money saved. Printivity offers the ability to purchase custom-size shipping boxes with no minimum, making it easier for you to buy only what you need for your company.

If you are ready to place an order, or have any questions about sustainable shipping methods or the ordering process, please reach out to Printivity at 1-877-649-5463.


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