The recent uptick in e-commerce sales—estimated at $5.545 trillion for 2022—has forced companies to increase their quantity and frequency of shipments, which means producing, using, and budgeting for more packaging than ever before. Today’s consumers are aware of the environmental impact this increase in e-commerce creates.
As consumers become more aware of the waste produced and the carbon footprint created because of their purchases, many are seeking out companies that promote sustainability. Not only are consumers aligning their values with eco-friendly CPG packaging and products, but they are shifting their purchasing behavior to match. While a product’s price and quality are still the top deciding factors driving consumer purchases, 85% of global consumers report shifting their personal spending habits toward brands that promote sustainability.
This willingness to pay for sustainable and environmentally friendly products is not a passing trend, but a generational movement. According to a recent study published by The Economist Intelligence Unit, online searches for sustainable goods have increased by 71% in the past five years. Younger generations are becoming more aware of the impact of their collective spending habits, and companies that do not include and promote sustainability as a core brand value are at risk of losing large segments of prospective consumers.
Sustainable Packaging Done Well
Consumers want to align themselves with businesses that take their corporate responsibility seriously and are truly doing their part to work toward environmental stability in e-commerce. Online businesses across multiple industries are increasing their commitments to corporate responsibility and lessening their environmental impact by designing sustainable packaging that benefits the environment without sacrificing performance, and some are finding great success.
Well-known companies like Patagonia and BOXED Water have built sustainability directly into their value proposition, using polybags and cardboard boxes that are 100% recyclable. The beauty retailer, Lush, reduces product packaging by selling many of their products in bar form, and 90% of any necessary packaging is made of recycled materials (which can be recycled or composted after use) or returned to a Lush store to be reused. Popular clothing brands like ASOS and Calvin Klein are making small changes that add up to huge differences, such as removing tags from clothing items, processing all returns online, and including recycling instructions directly on their product packaging. Even smaller startups like Resourcefill are promoting sustainability by encouraging local shoppers to bring their own containers, refill them with Resourcefill’s organic, eco-friendly shampoos, conditioners, and other home-care products, and pay by weight to save both money and packaging waste.
How To Implement Sustainable Packaging
With a growing list of sustainable packaging options available, going green is more accessible than ever. Let’s examine how sustainable packaging can be done well, in a way that benefits both your consumers and your company.
- 1. Explore new, innovative materials. Any change in packaging materials can lead to large cost increases for both the company and consumer. However, new packaging materials have been created that are both budget and eco-friendly. From biodegradable packaging peanuts to air pillows, explore packaging options that work for both your products and your bottom line.
- 2. Use social listening to understand consumers’ values. Your target audience has an online voice and understanding which aspects of sustainability matter most to your consumers can be a great way to connect with consumers, determine how sustainable packaging can be successfully implemented, and keep your company relevant now and in the future.
- 3. Provide clear directions to empower consumers. Sustainable packaging should be practical, useful, and easy to compost or recycle. Visible labels, stamps, or stickers that are simple to read and tell consumers exactly how your packaging can be recycled can empower consumers to make environmentally conscious choices after unboxing, which allows them to feel good about their purchase and your brand.
- 4. Consider implementing your own recycling program. Many companies like SodaStream and Plaine Products have created incentive programs that allow consumers to return empty product containers for full refills at discounted prices. Imagine how implementing a similar product might save product packaging costs for your businesses while also building consumer trust and loyalty.
Sustainable packaging is a fantastic way to connect with modern consumers, and it also serves to safeguard your company’s future reputation and market share. Companies that can not only adapt their e-commerce packaging, but promote and simplify it in an accessible way, will reap the most benefits. If your company is searching for ways to incorporate green CPG product packaging into your e-commerce model, connect with consumer values across all demographics, and stay relevant to modern expectations of sustainability, let the (matter) team help you get started today.