September 27, 2023

A Guide to Eco-friendly Packaging Materials in E-commerce

Eco-friendly packaging materials are a key response to the serious call for environmental awareness and care. These materials are environmentally responsible and minimize the negative impact on the environment. The importance of sustainable packaging materials in e-commerce is growing as every player including customers are getting interested in sustaining the environment. 

There is a significant call from customers to e-commerce brands on sustainability. Over 80 percent of US customers claim to be interested in green e-commerce. They say that they will purchase from e-commerce brands with sustainable practices. 

E-commerce brands can execute sustainable practices by switching to eco-friendly packaging materials. Here is a quick guide to expose you to all you need to know. 

Types of Eco-friendly Packaging Materials

Eco-friendly packaging materials come in different types. They have a positive response to the environment by virtue of their composition, structure, and recycling characteristics. 


Biodegradable Materials

Every material has a way it reacts when exposed to air, micro-organisms, and other environmental elements. Biodegradable materials from their root word “biodegrade” means they undergo a natural decomposition without an adverse effect on the environment. This forms the basic characteristic of biodegradable materials. 

Biodegradable materials possess extra attributes such as compatibility, and durability and are mostly produced from renewable sources. Good examples include cornstarch-based materials and bioplastics. 

Renewable Materials 

There is a close relationship between renewable and biodegradable materials. However, they are not entirely the same thing. Renewable materials are produced from natural sources such as biomass, plants, wood, etc. These materials can be regenerated and have a reduced environmental impact. Renewable materials offer versatility in packaging, as they can suit different shapes and sizes. 

Recycled Materials

This type of packaging material is made from previously used packaging materials. It is safe to see it as reworking on post-consumer material. Recycled materials have the ability to conserve compositions that make them fit for packaging. Recycled materials minimize the need for traditional production with raw materials, as a result, there is lower carbon emission and promotes overall environmental sustainability. 

Examples include returnable cloth bags, recycled paper, returnable boxes, and recycled cardboard.

Why Eco-friendly Packaging Materials?

There is no mixing of words here, eco-friendly is immensely beneficial to e-commerce brands, customers, the environment, and every other player in the industry. Let’s break the benefits into categories for better understanding. 

Environmental/Societal Benefits 

Choosing eco-friendly packaging materials for e-commerce is first beneficial to the environment and primary society. The environment has a role in the preservation of human, plant, and animal life. It then becomes a huge problem when human activities distort environmental quality. This could lead to severe damages and losses. 

Conscious efforts to maintain environmental quality via eco-friendly packaging in the e-commerce industry will see a drastic reduction in the carbon footprint. This means less carbon emissions and improved environmental sustainability. 

One other way eco-friendly packaging contributes to the sustainability of the environment is the reduction of waste. The use of renewable and recyclable materials for packaging minimizes the waste level in the environment. The combination of non-toxic decomposition and minimal waste level will massively improve the ecosystem.

Business-related Benefits

It’s a valid point that eco-friendly packaging materials positively influence the environment. However, these materials can also have a massive positive effect on your e-commerce business. One way is cost-saving through sustainable practices. Here is a breakdown.

  • Recycled materials will reduce the cost of procuring new raw materials and this will lead to massive savings in the long run.
  • Eco-friendly packaging materials are lightweight. As a result, they reduce shipping or delivery fees especially when charged per weight. 
  • Eco-friendly materials help reduce waste. This will in turn minimize the brand’s expenses on waste disposal.
  • E-commerce brands with sustainable practices may be qualified for some financial incentives in some regions.

When an e-commerce brand adopts eco-friendly packaging, they are positioned for business continuity and growth. The world at large is happy with sustainable practices by industries and this will help businesses attract eco-conscious customers. 

Regulatory Benefits

The government and related authorities in the industry are making strict sustainability laws. Breaking these laws takes a toll on the business and it can lead to the end of business. Embracing eco-friendly packaging solutions puts the business in compliance with authorities. 

This also gives the brand a competitive advantage in the modern e-commerce market. In today’s market, over 80% of customers in the U.S. are eco-conscious, so they will shop with eco-conscious brands. 

Some Eco-friendly Packaging Advancements in the Industry

This section will point out some programs and technologies focused on environmental sustainability that industries such as e-commerce should adopt. 

Novel Recycling Technology

Novel recycling technology is an advanced system for recycling materials useful for packaging. The system targets high-end efficiency and speed. It incorporates chemical processes, automation, biological processes, and data analytics for maximum productivity. 

Other programs and technologies advised include:

  • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Programs
  • Closed loop systems
  • And other sustainability programs in the industry. 

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