Firms across sectors of the economy are addressing sustainability in more meaningful ways. Much of their effort today is focused on the processes and materials that go into developing goods themselves, as opposed to the underlying sustainability of a product’s packaging and fulfillment. Both the materials/processes used to physically package & protect goods, as well as the process of moving said goods from point A to B, generate high amounts of waste and have historically been energy inefficient. This is a problem that has rapidly grown as e-commerce accelerated since COVID-19. To keep pace with customer demand, firms must pay more attention to “greening” the fulfillment process by addressing six key trends:
Regulation, consumer demand, and competition are pressuring industry towards best practices. China’s mandates on plastic consumption reporting by retailers, US legislative proposals to ban single-use plastics, the EU’s packaging waste directive, and the UN’s Environment Programme all exemplify the external pressures firms will face to act. Outside of regulation, increasingly eco-conscious consumers are demanding corporations adopt measurable and tangible environmental actions. In response, corporate competition has raised the bar in their implementation of corporate sustainability strategy and best practices. “Greening” the fulfillment process is fast becoming an unavoidable process.
BCE has evaluated three industries as examples of current packaging and shipping practices and the range of efforts underway currently. As you can see in the figure below, some sectors of the economy are far ahead of others when it comes to packaging and sustainability practices today:
Industries must develop meaningful and implementable shipping & packaging efforts to meet increasing expectations of consumers and keep pace with competitors. Several key questions should be at the forefront for companies as they consider how best to approach packaging and shipping sustainability:
The effective implementation of sustainable packaging and shipping practices can help achieve corporate sustainability goals while driving down costs in the supply chain. Corporate action must be taken as customers demand improvements, governments establish regulations, and competitors work towards best practices.