How to Develop and Implement Eco-Friendly Shipping Solutions for Your eCommerce Business


ecommerce sustainable shipping

Consumers across the world are taking environmentally conscious measures to reduce their carbon footprints. While many of them prefer the products they purchase and packaging they come in to be environmentally friendly, they also expect an eco-friendly manufacturing approach from the brands they love. As online shopping becomes more of a necessity than a lifestyle due to the pandemic, offering a sustainable retail experience should be on top of every eCommerce business’s list.


Did you know that just maritime shipping is estimated to account for 17% of the total carbon emissions in 2050? Even though shipping—whether by air, water, or land—currently accounts only for a small percentage of carbon emissions, it could lead to a lot more if left unregulated.


Brand loyalty has taken a hit in the last few years, and customers are no longer dedicated to a specific brand just because of the product quality or price. There are a lot of other factors affecting the purchasing behavior, and more than 66% of them said they are influenced by the eco-friendly practices a brand implements.


Adapting to eco-friendly shipping strategies requires not only focusing on the packaging or packing material but also on how you organize your eCommerce fulfillment process, the shipping options you offer, and much more. Dive into some of the green steps you can adopt for your eCommerce business.


Eco-Friendly Packaging Tips for eCommerce


The first step to transitioning to eco-friendly shipping is to first consider offering eco-friendly packaging for your customers.


Recycled Content

The majority of companies use cardboard boxes or paper to pack and ship their products. Of course, it’s an alternative to plastic or another non-biodegradable packing, but paper still comes from trees. You could go for recycled boxes or boxes made from sustainably managed forests with an FSC certification (Forestry Stewardship Council). The certified boxes will cost a little more, so you might offer them as a premium shipping option. These green options come at a premium, but they will help you keep your carbon emissions as low as possible.


Eco-Friendly Filling Material

The era of using styrofoam is long gone. As a petroleum product, it’s not only non-biodegradable but also creates a lot of waste as a result of its manufacturing. Currently, in the market, you have many sustainable alternatives to use as filling material. Depending on your budget and packing needs, you could opt for starch-based packing peanuts, void fill bags, green wrap-ready roll, etc.


To decide the filling material, you need to determine what size your package is going to be and what result you are aiming for—whether you need the product to be protected or is it just to fill in the extra space. For filling the void and keeping the product in place, you can even use inflatables made from recycled plastic.


If you are worried about your packing and shipping costs going up, here’s good news. Biodegradable fillers are less expensive than regular packing peanuts.


Package Size

Reducing the size and volume of your packaging will also reduce the shipping costs and help use fewer materials for filling and packing. This means your package takes up less space during shipping, leading to a reduction in your carbon footprint. The best example of perfect packing is Apple. Whether it’s an iPhone, or a Mac, or an iPod, you get them packed perfectly in a compact box with no extra space in them. This helps them in getting more units into a cubic meter of air or ship cargo space.


Recyclable and Reusable Packaging


A lot of brands give customers credits and loyalty points for recycling the product packages, such as bottles, tubs, or other kinds of packaging. If you are a small business owner, this helps develop a personal bond with your customers and reuse the packaging for future use. You could also use recycled packages for packing your products.


Eco-Friendly Shipping Tips for eCommerce


Sustainable Return Programs


Returns and damages in shipping add to the high cost of shipping and carbon emissions. Sending back a product requires more fuel, time, and money, adding to the carbon emissions. If the product is a low-value item, you can consider replacing the product with a new one, without asking the customer to initiate the returns. If you are a brand with high-value products, you could get the product back, fix the issues, and sell it as a refurbished product.


Ship Items in Bulk


If you have products that complement each other or that could be purchased in bulk, you can either sell them as a hamper or together. This offers better value for the customer and reduces the carbon footprints as well.


Ships in Own Container (SIOC)


SIOC is the most commonly used shipping method where you don’t add any additional box for packaging the product but ship them in their original package. Say, for example, if the customer is purchasing a pair of sneakers from your eCommerce store, you send it to them in its original box and not in additional packaging. This will help you reduce shipping costs and space.


Carbon Offsetting


No matter how hard we try, even the greenest shipping option would still leave a minor carbon footprint. But what if we say you can do something to reduce the carbon footprints or even make them carbon neutral? You can provide carbon offers for your customers to help reduce carbon emissions, donate to renewable sources and implement more sustainable shipping practices. If you’ve partnered with a 3PL fulfillment center, you can ask them about their carbon offset partnerships and how to contribute to more sustainable practices.

How Partnering with a 3PL Fulfillment Center Can Improve Shipping Sustainability


Whether you are a rising business or an established one, partnering with multiple fulfillment centers to distribute your inventory is an excellent strategy. The closer the warehouses are to your customers, the faster it will be to reach your customers and lesser the shipping costs.


When you partner with ShipBots, you get a commitment to providing eco-friendly shipping options, faster delivery, and more efficient order fulfillment strategies. We can help you forecast your shipping frequency, select the perfect packaging for your products, and ensure there are little to no returns and damages, resulting in reduced carbon emissions. Get in touch with us today to speak with our team of shipping and packing experts.