eco-friendly shipping

Eco-Friendly Shipping: What You Need to Know

Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

The push to go green is nothing new, but the movement has gained more traction in recent years, and eco-friendly shipping has now become an essential component for businesses.

For a while, companies were able to skate by with performative or minimal green publicly known efforts, but customers expect more these days. The green movement is not just a small fad anymore, and customers will leave brands they feel do not do enough to make the business sustainable.

While each business is unique and manufacturing processes are not easy to change, there are many other areas any business can work on to be more green. Some companies opt for solar panels on headquarters or make the fleet of company cars electric, but there is another area many businesses often overlook. The shipping area of a business can be complicated, but there are ways to make the process greener without adding more steps or mucking up the existing workflow. Eco-friendly shipping is not only possible, but it is how the entire industry should pivot so we can keep shipping items around the world without killing the planet.

Packing Matters

When most people think of eco-friendly shipping, they likely start thinking of ways to make the transit less ecologically impactful. Ships, planes, trains, and trucks all carry freight, but they are not the greenest transportation options. However, rather than reinventing transit, you can lower your business’s carbon footprint with other means. Instead of focusing on what moves your orders, consider redesigning your packaging both inside an order box and the packaging of the items themselves. 

Plastic, styrofoam, and shrink wrap are common and cost-effective packing materials, but they are some of the most damaging items to our ecosystem. Try to replace your standard pacing materials with recycled paper, cornstarch packing peanuts, and protective foams that are easier to break down than Styrofoam. When it comes to your individual items, avoid single-use plastics that are hard to open anyway and any unnecessary paper inserts. Reused cardboard, biodegradable plastics, and recycled paper let you keep the same high-quality look as less ideal item materials, but without harming the planet in the process. The more reused or recycled materials you can use, the better, as using those materials helps eliminate waste going into already overfilled landfills. 

Small Steps To Save Energy And Resources

It may not feel like small changes will matter in the long run, but even the most minor improvements add up over time. Rather than relying on a 3rd party or an extra step to generate and print a shipping label, use an API geared to automatically fill in the details when an order is created.

Automation can help you collect items around a warehouse, and inventory tracking will help you keep store stock indicators up to date, so you don’t have to waste time looking for an item you no longer have. 

New And Better Transit Is Coming

More and more companies are creating rules to spur businesses to put in more effort towards green goals. Shipping companies in Europe are working on plans to lower boat fuel consumption and pollution over the next few years. Electric-powered vehicles are becoming a more prominent possibility, but the technology is not yet ready to power a freight ship crossing oceans. Another part of new rules and agreements is that old and inefficient transit vehicles will be retired and replaced with better versions. Once we can get the old fleet of shipping carriers retired, the new and more efficient models will help undo some of the damage from years of burning fuels. 

Part of making more efficient vehicles and ships is trying to create better engines and fuels, but other factors affect efficiency as well. Aerodynamics affects drag and maximum speed, but a particularly heavy ship could cancel out those benefits. Finding the best way to create a greener and more eco-friendly shipping carrier is a delicate balance of various factors, and we will likely see different builds for various purposes. Short-range delivery trucks may be light-weight and electric in the near future, while long-haul shipping boats feature a new design and propulsion system to reduce fuel consumption. 

The whole world is coming around to the greenway of doing business, and the shipping industry is slowly getting on board. Green shipping includes more than just better package carriers, which are in the works, but also how you package orders and the resources you could save with modern help. Look at every aspect of shipping, and you will easily find many ways the process can be greener. We will get there in time as technology continues to advance. 

  1. Jean ong
    March 16, 2021

    I think re-using packaging materials considered as waste by other business should be included there. Example, I collect Styrofoam fruit packaging from supermarkets and re-use these for online shipping of my glass bottles. Styrofoam is bad, but it still comes out as “green packaging” as I just re-used it.

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