Green Fulfilment: Eco-Friendly Shipping & Green Logistics
The advantages of going green for your business
Thinking green for your business matters in 2022 more than ever. We work primarily in a digital world but still rely heavily on a physical network of transportation, warehousing, and delivery. The switch to more sustainable solutions affects everybody worldwide, both personally, and professionally. Governments and companies are already working diligently to reduce our global footprint. More green energy alternatives are coming online – and now it is time for green logistics to catch up!
Climate change is real, and it is everyone’s responsibility to make a difference. Climate change was estimated to have cost at least 210 billion in damage in the last two years worldwide. Many businesses went under, and countless people lost employment. Sustainability matters everywhere and affects every aspect of our lives.
Green logistics and sustainability are important for many reasons, not just for the planet, but for your customers – and your sales. Eco-friendly, eco-conscious consumers are more prevalent than ever. Green logistics is the future of our global supply chain. You can already tell with the overwhelming success of Tesla and electric vehicles on the road today. Going green is no longer a moot subject – but a new global movement that is more important than ever.
52% of UK shoppers say they would be more loyal to a retailer who practices sustainability, while 41% would even be happy to pay more for delivery to know it was a greener option.
Today I want to discuss green logistics and how your brand will directly benefit from embracing green fulfilment strategies. The world is changing, and a green revolution is happening – so it’s time to get on the proverbial green bandwagon.
Green logistics means using sustainable practices in the logistics industry to decrease harmful impacts on the environment. Setting more responsible policies and standards for transportation services, warehousing, and shipping, global climate health will benefit as a result. There are several ways that these practices can and will be implemented for long term environmentally friendly solutions.
Green logistics examples
Contributing to the reduction of global carbon emissions includes the use of more electric transport vehicles and biofuels. 2021 saw the biggest annual sales increase of electric vehicles in the UK, involving over 305,000 newly registered vehicles. This is a staggering growth of 74% when compared to 2020. The need for moving from fossil fuels to electricity is important and might be mandatory before we know it. For example, conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans are already on track to be banned from sale in the UK in 2030.
Over the next 10 years, sustainable fuels will play a critical role in reducing climate change as well as electric transport vehicles. DHL, a courier partner of ours have started a global protection initiative known as “GoGreen,” created to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases – where their target is to be 100% emission-free by 2050.
What is green fulfilment?
Green fulfilment means using safe and sustainable business practices regarding eCommerce fulfilment to reduce harmful impacts on the planet. From materials used for packaging to materials used to protect products, it all matters. Big goals with sustainability require big action from everybody, and 3PLs can actively encourage this daily in several ways.
Green fulfilment examples
When it comes to eCommerce fulfilment it’s important for 3PLs to use recyclable materials that are eco-friendly. Eco-friendly packaging options, or “green packaging, “use both corrugated cardboard and gummed tape, which is recycled paper with a latex solution. Plastic tape is made of polypropylene and is not recyclable. Styrofoam is commonly also used with other picking and packing companies, but it is polystyrene and not recyclable. We only use recycled paper for package fillers, and all other 3PLs should too.
Advantages of green logistics and green fulfilment
Not everyone focuses on the environment or going green with their business and that is understandable – you have a business to run. We cannot all care about everything when we have employees to look after and bills to pay. However, to put it in perspective there are many positive benefits to pay attention to that can actually boost your business by going green.
Below you will see the commercial and profitable advantages to pay close attention to when considering a green shift.
1. Brand reputation
Making sure your brand is aligned properly with sustainable logistics providers matters. Understanding customer interaction should be a core interest and KPI for eCommerce businesses and retailers in the B2B, D2C environment. Empirical data and research in this area have confirmed it’s a large point of contention for customers in 2022.
Having integrity in your already eco-conscious brand means being eco-conscious in the supply chain too. Your customers will pay attention to this – and not focusing on this can alienate you from your audience. From store to door – make sure it’s all green. Go green or go home!
2. Get more sales
The question that needs to be asked is “If you’re already an eco-conscious retailer – why would you align yourself with a 3PL without eco-conscious practices?” Make sure your entire operation audits its green practices from sourcing to delivery matters – as it influences buying decisions for customers. First impressions matter – so if a parcel received by a customer is covered in multiple strips of plastic tape, this will negatively impact the impression of your “eco-friendly” brand. Partnering with an eco-conscious 3PL gives you marketing capabilities to elevate and align your brand and customer values for final mile delivery. As a result, more brand trust, and more sales from dedicated consumers.
3. Government Policies
It’s also important to remember the policy and regulatory aspects of going green. In the next decade (as more eco-friendly legislation is passed globally) this issue will become even more popular & poignant. For example, the UK government has announced plans to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035. Over the next decade, because of this goal, more pressure will increasingly be placed on companies to expand their green initiatives. Already being aligned with companies that focus on sustainability helps you keep in line with what is happening legislatively – while keeping your brand consistently accountable and planet friendly!
Green Fulfilment cost savings
Did you know you can benefit from reduced packaging costs with an eco-friendly fulfilment provider? One of the benefits of using more sustainable products for green fulfilment (besides helping save the planet!) is the cost savings passed onto you. 3PLs pass the costs of picking and packing items onto you as well as the cost of their packaging for those materials (boxes, tape, etc.). If those materials are cheaper, your cost is naturally cheaper too.
There are many types of sustainable packaging. There is sustainable packaging for food, sustainable packaging for liquids, and sustainable packaging for materials. We use sustainable packaging boxes as well as paper and plastic-free tape.
For example, water-activated tape (or gummed tape) is much stronger and requires fewer strips of tape when compared to plastic. This is another reason why it’s becoming an industry standard – while avoiding toxic plastic tape. Analysis has shown more strips of plastic tape are needed to properly seal boxes when compared to water-activated tape. This obviously affects labour costs, and consequently, profitability. This is true for any 3PL – as time is money. This practice brings the costs down for the 3PL, hence bringing down the cost for you as well – the 3PL partner. Also, plastic is eradicated – helping the planet.
Styrofoam vs recycled paper filler
Besides being more expensive, packaging items in boxes take a lot longer to do with styrofoam (also known as packing peanuts) than with recycled paper. Adding to the previous point of labour costs, the recycled paper takes less time to complete the task of preparing packaged items (void fill) – and your customers don’t have to break out the broom! More industries like fashion are already embracing recycled paper packaging.
Major fashion houses and iconic online fashion industry brands have shifted their focus on this issue in recent years – because they know customers are more vocal than ever about plastics in their packaging. Fashion fulfilment for eCommerce is exploding in 2022, even garnering more market share than many traditional brick and mortar stores. Recycled paper filler is already becoming more popular by major brands and will be embraced more moving forward. As the third-largest manufacturing industry in the world (garments), more pressure needs to be placed on these companies to support sustainable packaging for clothing.
(Picture above is one of our eco-friendly clients Upcircle)
So… Forget styrofoam! Embrace recycled paper fillers for your products.
*According to National Geographic, of the estimated 400 million tons of plastic produced every year, 40% or 160 million tons, is used exclusively for primary and secondary packaging applications. Styrofoam fillers are plastic-based and wind up in landfills – taking hundreds of years to decompose.
Crackdown on plastics for packaging
Did you know the UK government is already cracking down on plastics? As of April first (2022), the UK enacted a Plastic Packaging Tax (“PPT”). The reasoning for this is to incentivise businesses to reduce their use of plastic materials specifically for plastic packaging! Large manufacturers and importers of plastic packaging will be on the hook for bringing too much plastic into the UK. So, as you can tell – it’s a dying industry.
Align green logistics with your green manufacturing – make a difference
Ethics check! Eco-friendly eCommerce sellers, who source products from large manufacturers with no commitment to sustainability – is it time to change?
Some countries have fewer regulations when it comes to emissions. It’s understandable you want to get the cheapest price for your products. In the long run, without more accountability, you might directly support one of the largest polluters in the world. It’s important to investigate this critical issue and understand where you want your loyalties to be aligned. More importantly, what would your customers think about this practice with your eco-friendly brand?
What’s worse than directly supporting the largest polluters? I would say getting called out for it and losing your customers. I am sure your competitors would love to take you to task for it. Personally, I would love to crush my competition by calling out their unethical or “ironic” non-eco-friendly sourcing practices. That would take care of two problems for my business!
So, for the sake of the planet as well as the sake of your bottom line, I’d say it is time to do an ethics check on the source of your manufacturing too. Embrace green manufacturing.
Global impact of Green Logistics
Obviously, the biggest advantage to green logistics and green fulfilment is a reduction of environmental strain. However, you can clearly see the other benefits of these practices for your business. Over the next decade, every industry will be developing more and more “go green” tactics – from green logistics to green manufacturing and even green warehousing. Make sure your brand is aligned on the right side of history. Your planet thanks you – and your customers will too.
As the writer and content manager for Selazar Matt’s aim is to provide useful content on logistics, technology, marketing, and strategy for eCommerce businesses. He wants to help businesses and retailers thrive by staying updated on the latest trends while also learning the best practices to expand their operations.