The 4R’s Of Packaging To Reduce It’s Impact To The Environment

The American Institute for Packaging and the Environment anticipates that ecommerce sales will exceed $300 billion this year with the most significant volume generated by the coming holidays. Along with the growth of ecommerce sales, it is expected that the demand for packaging supplies will increase substantially. Online sites will certainly make an effort to ensure that purchases are wrapped aesthetically in tulle, baskets, wine bags, cellophane wraps and burlaps bags before they are finally packed in shipping boxes. Presentation is important when it comes to packaging to ensure that the customer is fully satisfied with the online purchase.

The significance of the 4R’s in packaging

AMERIPEN through its brochure Packaging at the Forefront of Ecommerce Growth and Sustainability has explained the importance of packaging for ecommerce including the different strategies that must be undertaken to avoid product damage. Aside from ensuring that products are safe, prompt delivery is important with the assurance that holiday gifts will reach the customer in pristine condition with minimal impact to the environment. In order to ensure a sustainable holiday season, the 4R’s in packaging are advised to consumers.

  • REDUCE and consolidate orders so that packaging can be minimized during delivery
  • REUSE packaging particularly corrugated shipping boxes and cushioning like bubble sheets and cellophane wraps
  • RETURN packaging and cushioning products to local stores
  • RECYCLE packaging by using them for other useful purposes like shipping boxes for storage of stuff

The growing trend of return packaging

Starbucks has trash bins where people can dispose of their discarded paper coffee cups at 18% of its stores in the United States and Canada. The used cups can be recycled into new paper cups the same way that aluminum cans are recycled into new soda and beer cans. This is the solution to the lack of recycling facilities in many communities with regards to used cups. So far, company-sponsored recycling in the United States is not mandatory except for the state of Maine that has shifted the cost of discarded packaging to businesses. Although there is widespread opposition to the mandated responsibility, Coca Cola is standing by its commitment to recycle 100% of its cans and bottles by 2015 in North America.

Shop Online And Save The Environment


According to a recent article in Huffington Post, Canadian online shopping has outpaced traditional retail with Canada’s 2013 Black Friday online sales increasing by over 19.19% over the previous year’s sales. Such trend is expected because online shopping is highly convenient and efficient for shoppers considering that it can virtually occur anywhere at any time through personal mobile gadgets. Compared to traditional shopping at brick and mortar shops, online shopping is friendlier to the environment.
The impact of online shopping to the environment
1.    Online shopping reduces the need for transportation

If the shopper was to buy from traditional brick and mortar shops, he needs to travel to reach the store that requires fuel consumption. Online shopping reduces the impact of consumer travel since online shopping can be performed from the comfort of home or the office. Not only does online shopping optimize fuel efficiency; it reduces carbon footprints.

2.    Packaging can be recycled for another purpose

Online purchases are typically delivered in boxes, and these boxes can be reused for another purpose. Aside from being reused for packaging gifts to family or friends in far off locations, packaging boxes can be used for storage. If you do not have any immediate needs for the boxes, it can be dropped off to recycling centers.

3.    E-commerce sites make use of sustainable packaging

It is very obvious that the demand for renewable packaging is to address the concerns over the longevity of natural resources. Companies that are implementing sustainable packaging are reducing their carbon footprints by using more of recycled boxes and packaging supplies. Instead of paper packaging, virgin fiber is sourced from renewable plantations.

4.    Reduction of overall packaging

Consumers have their opinions about packaging, opinions that are expressed with the hope that major retailers will give the customer the option on how they want their orders to be packed. For example, Amazon is giving its customers the option between Frustration-Free Packaging and consolidation of all items into one shipment to reduce the need for packaging supplies.
While the choice to opt for online shopping is due to convenience, there is a rising awareness among consumers to support more responsible packaging to save the natural resources for the future generation.