Sustainable Solutions To Reduce The Impact Of Packaging Materials To The Environment

With the approaching holiday season, it is expected that online shopping will increase and so with the amount of packaging like shipping boxes. According to eMarketer the projected growth in online sales is expected at 20.1% or $1.5 trillion. Aside from the shipping boxes, there is plastic and cellophane wrapping as well as paper wrapping or foam packaging meant as protection for the contents. It is not unusual for all these packaging products to end up in the landfills which according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reached a staggering 75.2 million tons of total solid waste generated by the United States alone in 2012.

The concern on packaging waste

Companies and entrepreneurs are finding ways to tackle the growing problem of packaging waste. One of the options is waste management through recycling which is making progress with 51.5% or 38.75 million tons composted in 2012. This represents a big increase from the figures of previous years. However, the option of recycling will only work if the consumer is willing to do his part. On the other hand, there are types of packaging materials that cannot be recycled effectively like mixed and hybrid products. Metal which is interwoven with fiber and plastic foam have practically no value in the recycling stream since they are intended only for single use. Packaging that includes tulle, baskets, cellophane bags, wine bags and burlap bags are easily recyclable and are suggested for shipping.

Social media and waste management

Dell is one of the companies that received feedback from social media to reduce its wasteful and excessive packaging using non-recyclable shipping boxes. People care about proper waste management and they are voicing out their criticisms through social media. To address the concerns of consumers, Dell has reduced the sizes of boxes by about 10% and developed bamboo cushioning that can be recycled into paper to replace foam. Bamboo cushioning has eliminated 20 pounds of packaging to save at least $18m on energy, waste, transportation and production costs. By 2020, Dell expects to scale its efforts at sustainable packaging to 100% compared to 60% today. These innovative packaging solutions should be global in scope and not limited to North America and Western Europe since Asia-Pacific is an emerging market for online shopping.

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