It's almost time for the holidays, but all the fun of holiday gift-giving often comes with a mountain of e-commerce packaging waste. This year, consumers will order more than 20% of gifts online. All of these purchases require some form of packaging - eCommerce orders usually involve polybags, boxes, and packing peanuts. That's without considering an item's product packaging or any extra gift wrapping.
How much waste comes from packaging during the holiday season?
In the last two months of the year, consumers embark on a gift-buying marathon.
Behind every gift shipped is a hard reality of packaging waste. According to TerraCycle, the holidays dump 25% more household waste than the rest of the year due to the increases in online purchases and product shipping: that's one million tons of trash per week!
The Holiday season surely is fun, however, it's responsible for a massive uptick in discarded packaging. The onslaught of packaging material quickly overwhelms recycling centres, and there is a clear spike in e-commerce packaging waste dropped into landfills.
After the holiday wave, watch out for the product returns storm!
Overall, about 10% of all purchases are returned, according to industry estimates. According to Optoro, a tech company that manages retailers' returned items, this means:
- 5 billion tons of landfill waste.
- The equivalent in CO2 of 3 million cars driving for a year
Consumers most likely assume that those not-so-fitting pants they returned will make it back to the store and end up at another person's house — who loves them. In reality, only a portion of returns ever gets resold. Never used, returned items often end up in thrift stores, are burnt or dumped in a landfill.
In Europe, Amazon routinely sent a billion items to the landfill each year, a practice that led France to outlaw the destruction of unsold consumer goods.
Consumers habits are shifting in favour of sustainable, circular alternatives
According to Shorr, just 11% of e-commerce packaging meets customer expectations. Key reasons cited are that over-packaging and non-recyclable materials.
Excessive packaging is one of the most preventable sources of waste and 62% of consumers are more likely to purchase from brands using sustainable packaging. Reducing waste through a reusable, sustainable packaging design makes a world of difference to customer perceptions of a brand!
Moving away from excessive packaging doesn't have to come in the way of finding unique online brands or having a cool unpackaging experience.
You can browse through the brands that already offer reusable packaging on our brand directory!!
Credit Photo: Montreet