Eco-Friendly Shipping Practices

Published on April 8, 2022
Written by
Filed under Shipping Basics
Read time 9 Minutes

Ecommerce has the capacity to make our shopping habits greener. When we have items delivered to us instead of us driving around to stores, it minimizes our carbon footprint. With the omnipresence of ecommerce, you may end up getting a different package delivered every day. Sometimes multiple packages a day! During lockdown with people shopping from home— sometimes just for the cheap thrill of tracking a package to open a little present you bought yourself—the decreased automobile traffic did cut carbon emissions. While this has since rebounded, there are still steps merchants and customers can take to help to make more eco-friendly shipping. 

Eco-Friendly Shipping Supplies

The first step you can take as a merchant is to purchase more sustainable, eco-friendly shipping supplies. These materials are now very common and affordable. Furthermore, many consumers are more willing to pay more for sustainability. 60% of consumers consider it a major purchasing factor. So, even if your products are not made of recycled materials,  offering sustainable shipping options could be an upsell that customers are willing to make. 

Use Recycled Packaging and Shipping Boxes

The easiest option is to use recycled shipping boxes and packaging. Companies like Amazon are pledging to reduce wastes on their packaging. So, if this does become noticeable, it will be another trend that the rest of ecommerce merchants need to follow. So, when it comes to finding affordable and recyclable packaging, there are many options

Use Biodegradable Packing Materials

Sustainable packaging shouldn’t just be limited to packaging. In fact the internal packing materials of a shipping box make more sense to be recyclable. Afterall, people may re-use a box, but packing peanuts or void fill have a hard time being repurposed. Well, apart from popping bubble wrap. Luckily voidfill products can be sustainable and pleasing on the eye. This can be an elevated unboxing experience. 

Use Polymailers

Polymailers are a great sustainable and economical choice for merchants. Though they typically get charged in the same pricing structure as packages instead of envelopes, they help to save money, conserve space, and utilize recyclable materials. There are many places to buy polymailers and you can even get flat rate mailers from the USPS. Just be sure that you don’t pack anything too fragile in them. Generally speaking, they work best for clothing or items in hard plastic packaging. 

Eco-Friendly Logistics

Use Consolidation Services 

Consolidation services like GlobalPost offer many types of ways to affordably and economically send multiple packages together to save on sorting time and help save space. There are four different types of consolidation services for GlobalPost SmartSaver available for qualified shippers including ship-in, container labels, pickup, and drop-off: 

  • If you ship at least 5 international packages and daily, you are eligible for ship-in and container labels. This option comes with a 10% discount for shippers and allows you to consolidate shipments and then print a USPS label to send the packages inside the container to a GlobalPost hub. GlobalPost also pays for your container label, saving you this additional cost.*

            *Note: this service is currently only available through GlobalPost directly 

  • Users who ship at least 30 international packages or 300 domestic packages daily are additionally eligible for a pickup option. This includes multiple truck options and managed first-mile pickup. If you ship with GlobalPost at this volume, you also have access to ship-in services where you can ship your palletized shipments directly to a GlobalPost processing hub.
  • Users who meet a minimum of 50 international packages or 150 domestic packages daily are also eligible for drop-off. This option allows  off your shipments directly at one of GlobalPost’s15 domestic hubs. Use Fulfillment Providers or 3PL 

Fulfillment providers like FBA or ShipWire help spread your merchandise across their fulfillment warehouses. This is one of the reasons that Amazon is so effective at express delivery. The items may only be a few counties away instead of a warehouse on the other side of the country. While it can be expensive to use these services, fulfillment providers also help during periods of growth. If you are short-staffed or have limited warehouse space, you can outsource portions of your inventory to these fulfillment providers

Carbon Neutral Shipping

Carbon neutral shipping is something that carriers offer to help offset the greenhouse emissions that the delivery of a parcel creates. Some carriers, like UPS, offer carbon neutral shipping as an additional surcharge for individual shipments. Others incorporate this carbon offsetting into their standard shipping costs. These are some ways carriers offer this option. 

UPS:  UPS offers carbon neutral shipping for a range of prices. For UPS Ground® it is $0.05  per parcel. For Express airmail services, the cost is $0.20 per parcel. 

FedEx: While FedEx doesn’t have a carbon neutral option for individual shipping labels, they are pledging to move to carbon neutrality by 2040 as an organization. 

Sendle: Sendle is a fully carbon-neutral carrier. Any parcel you send with them already has an offset in place for the exhaust from the fleet of vehicles used to deliver your parcel.

Offering Carbon Neutral Shipping as an in-cart add-on to customers

One way to help pay for carbon neutral shipping for carriers like UPS, or to take matters into your own hands is to offer a carbon neutral option in-cart. Shopping carts like Shopify offer this sustainable functionality in-app.  

How ShipStation Helps With Eco-Friendly Shipping

Configure your UPS account to use Carbon Neutral shipping in ShipStation

ShipStation lets you configure your UPS account to offer carbon neutral shipping across the board. This will apply the $0.05–$0.20 per parcel to all UPS shipments created within ShipStation. If you wish to enable or disable this option, it is just a single click in your carrier settings

Get Shipping Discounts That Help You Afford Green Packaging

Going green isn’t always the most affordable option. If it were, more corporations would have pledged to reduce more pollution long ago. However, there are small steps we can take individually to reduce our carbon footprint. With ShipStation, you can access shipping discounts that give you a better profit margin that lets you inject a little more money into eco-friendly efforts. 

To save time and money on shipping, sign up for a free 30-day ShipStation trial today

Written by

James Messer

James Messer is a copywriter specializing in shipping, logistics, and ecommerce.

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