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Eco-friendly packaging options for your online store

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I recently received a baby socks gift set. Those socks, while super cute, came packaged in: 

  • A plastic box 
  • 4 x plastic foot-shaped-inserts
  • A cardboard insert

The footprint this product is leaving on the planet weighs heavy on my heart. And I don’t mean the cute baby footprints.

It’s estimated that 5.45 million tonnes of packaging was made available to the end-consumer (including business users) in Australia in 2017-18.

That’s a lot of packaging!

If you run an online store, no matter what size, you need to think about the environmental impact your packaging is making.

Why do you need to care?

It’s good for the planet and good for business.

  • Obviously, the environmental impact
  • You may be legally required to
  • It increases affinity with your customers
  • Customers are increasingly environmentally conscious and will align with brands who are too

What is the target? 

In 2018 Australia established the 2025 National Packaging Targets to create a new sustainable pathway for the way we manage packaging in Australia. 

The four targets, to be achieved by 2025, are:

  • 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging
  • 70% of plastic packaging being recycled or composted
  • 30% of average recycled content included in packaging
  • The phase out of problematic and unnecessary single-use plastics packaging.

What can you do?

Go plastic-free

Just because something is recyclable it doesn’t mean it actually gets recycled. According to WWF Australians use an average of 130 kg of plastic per person each year. Only 12% of that’s recycled.

More frightening still, up to 130,000 tonnes of plastic will find its way into our waterways and into the ocean

The best thing we can do is to go plastic-free. As consumers become more educated about this they will be looking to purchase from plastic-free brands.

Don’t send air 

Choose a package size that fits your product snuggly

Up to 40% of every parcel shipped today is just air. That’s not only a lot of wasted packaging but also think about the space it takes up in transport and adds to the number of transport miles needed.

Consider becoming a member of the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO). 

APCO is a co-regulatory, not-for-profit organisation that partners with government and industry to reduce the harmful impact of packaging on the Australian environment.

If you turnover less than $5million the membership fee is $510 at the time of writing this.

Encourage your customers to reuse

As I said before, just because something is recyclable it doesn’t mean it will actually get recycled. Encourage your customers to reuse their packaging.  Not only will it save them dollaroos it will help the planet. Suggested ways to reuse package: 

  • Reuse boxes to organise your drawers
  • Reuse tissue paper to gift wrap present 
  • Reuse mailer bags to send mail, or if they are compostable use them as a bin liner for your compost bin 

Choose the best packaging you can

Thankfully there are better packaging options available for small online business owners. 

Here are a few that are small-business-friendly, meaning you can order small quantities:

The Better Packaging Co supply compostable mailers and labels and at the time of writing, they are also trialling a SWOP program which allows for packaging to be reused again and again and again. Check it out. 

Hero Packaging are another great supplier of compostable mailers and they also offer customisation. 

Inke supply custom printed postage cardboard boxes which use UV ink – an eco-friendly alternative that doesn’t contain the carbon-based chemicals found in other inks. They also source and make their products in Australia, meaning fewer travel miles. 

If you need to wrap your items in tissue paper, the best we could find was No Issue Tissue. They supply custom printed tissue paper, stickers and tape. They use soy-based ink and their tissue is acid-free and FSC Certified. 

Final word

Changing to eco-friendly packaging is good for the planet and good for business. And every little bit helps.

Please comment below and let us know how you are doing your bit to reduce the impact packaging has on our planet – and please let us know what other eco-friendly packaging options you know of so we can share them here. 

Written by Megan Winter

Megan is an award-winning marketer and has worked with some of the fastest-growing eCommerce brands in the world.

Megan loves helping ethically-produced, heart-centred, soul-driven online store owners to make more income and achieve more impact. 

4 Comments

  1. Jenny

    Great job. Right behind this initiative.

    Reply
    • Lidia

      Thanks Megan I am researching eco-friendly packaging for my soon to launch site. This information has saved me so much time. Moreover, it’s gold content to add to my About Us. It’s clear that consumers will start to question sourcing, reuse and recycling more and more.

      Reply
      • Emma MacGregor

        Hi Megan, I love seeing articles highlighting the importance of this issue now. I collect old magazines and junk mail locally and shred them for colourful mail filler and use plain cardboard (often repurposed) boxes for hampers.

        Reply
  2. Caryn Hanley

    Thank you for this Megan. I wish more companies would use the eco-friendly options available

    Reply

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