Green Branded Shipping Options for E-Commerce
There are still e-commerce and subscription box shippers who believe that they have to choose between sustainability and good looking, eye catching branding. Fortunately that is not true and there are several options available to you that will deliver your product to your customer in a package that communicates your brand and message, especially if it happens to be a green one.
Here are a few options that you may want to consider:
–Paper mailer envelopes – even though I personally am not a great fan of padded mailers because they tend to be heavy and sometimes messy, unpadded mailers can be made of 100% recycled content, and are 100% recyclable. They can be easily recycled at curb side or with any other paper waste.
For many products such as soft goods and apparel that do not require the protection of a box, paper mailer envelopes are a great option that can be printed in two colors in minimal quantities and at minimal cost.
–Plastic mailer envelopes – even though they may not be perceived as a green packaging solution by some consumers, they add very little weight and of course you can’t beat the moisture protection they provide. Plastic mailers are available in a variety of film structures, even some with a high percentage of recycled waste content and are typically 100% recyclable wherever plastic bags are recycled.
Even though plastic mailer envelopes usually require much higher minimums for printing, the graphics can be sharper with more colors and finishes available compared to flexographic printing on paper.
–Corrugated shipping containers provide the most options with many designs available including RSC style shipping boxes, FOL end/side load mailers, and even paper tubes. The wide variety of die cut mailer boxes includes top tuck, front lock and application permitting, Eco-Mailer boxes that typically use about 30% less board compared to other designs.
The available recycled content varies depending on the type and style being used but most have at least 30% recycled content, and some as much as 100% PCW content. Most corrugated containers can easily be recycled with other paper waste.
Though most corrugated containers used for e-commerce are one or two colors, screens and reverse printing designs make it easy to create a low cost and unique graphic design. Also, interior printing has become very popular, increasing the available billboard and message/logo placement where it is sure not to be missed.
Which type of shipping container is best for you is determined by a number of factors including what you are shipping and how you are shipping it, as well as the level of protection your product requires. An increasingly important factor is shipping weight and how it impacts shipping costs. We recently were able to reduce a customer’s shipping cost by two dollars per box by analyzing their box design, the board composition and even ink content. Their carbon footprint was reduced, the cost per box was also lowered, and the shipping cost savings was over six figures, per month.
In many cases however, the deciding factor may be what type of impression you want to make on your customer in terms of style, graphics, and how green-minded that customer is. Would we suggest sending organic cotton baby clothing in a plastic mailer? Probably not.
Every application is a little different so there are no “one size fits all” solution. However, there is a low cost, attractive and eco-friendly packaging solution for every e-commerce company.
Dennis writes in the area of sustainable packaging with his work appearing in numerous blogs and magazines, including his own blog, Inside Sustainable Packaging. Dennis and his company provide custom eco friendly packaging solutions through Salazar Packaging and stock green packaging products via GlobeGuardProducts, which is the first internet store featuring all eco-friendly packaging supplies. Recently Dennis also made news by launching GreenPackagingGroup, which is a B2B packaging blog and directory for eco-minded buyers. He is president and co-founder of Salazar Packaging.
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