How E-Commerce Companies Can Remain Sustainable During The Pandemic

According to McKinsey, while it has been an unprecedented period of disruption for the packaging industry, there has been a surge in demand for packaging for e-commerce shipments. There has also been an increase in demand for disposable and flexible packaging and single-use plastic.


Stay home, save lives

Even the most environmentally-conscious consumer recognizes the need for added protection and packaging to reduce the risk of infection – despite evidence of the low risk in transmission from consumer goods. 

In the US, consumers have doubled their spend at online-only grocery stores, while in China, a major online retailer grew more than 200% in just 10 days.

There are numerous factors to account for this: 

  • Restrictions of movement combined with consumer fears mean more consumers are staying home and ordering in.
  • Increased consumer demand for limited handling and protective packaging
  • Many restaurants are open for delivery only.
  • Some businesses have rescinded previous efforts to limit the use of plastic.

Safety first, sustainability second

For now, sustainability efforts seem to have taken a back seat as businesses focus on survival. Many recycling services have been unable to operate during the disruption, while increasing packaging waste and plastic has put mounting pressure on landfills.

However, there are ways packaging producers and e-commerce companies can make a difference.

Sustainable options include:

  • Source sustainable alternatives to bubble wrap and foam balls for shipping boxes. 
  • Use smaller packaging for items to limit the need for protective inners.
  • Opt for packaging made from recycled paper and cardboard.
  • Corrugated cardboard offers optimal protection for items and is a lot friendly to the environment. 
  • Always choose recycled plastic or biodegradable and compostable materials. 

The disruption caused by COVID-19 will not last forever, but the environmental impact caused by the current surge in packaging waste might take longer to recover from. But the outlook is not all bleak. Even the smallest change can make a big difference. Sustainable raw materials and recycled packaging offer the same protection and are just as cost-effective as traditional materials. 

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