10 Tips to Run an Eco-Friendly Supply Chain


It’s better late than never to achieve a sustainable supply chain, starting with eco-friendly packaging material. Save costs and improve your brand reputation by going green!

It’s important for your supply chain to use sustainable packaging! Not only does it reduce environmental impact, but it’d also help your company boosts its brand reputation.

Consumers increasingly place importance on company values, which includes environmentalism and sustainability. The packaging of your product becomes an important touchpoint for you to deliver a positive brand experience with your customer.

Did you know that packaging takes up a third of all plastics production? Only 14% of plastic packaging will be recycled.

The plastic waste issue will only escalate as e-commerce rises significantly each year. Just in 2017, global retail e-commerce sales were valued over $2 trillion. We can only expect this to rise and, therefore, more plastic packaging will go to waste. It takes a significantly longer time for plastic packaging to decompose compared to the average time of use. According to DHL, a plastic bottle would be used within an average of 4 days, but it’d take 450 years to completely decompose.


What to Consider When You Reevaluate Your Packaging Materials?

First and foremost, your packaging must fulfill basic functions to complete the supply chain and delivery cycle. Therefore, the packaging must be able to:

  • Safely protect the product inside the packaging against loss and/or damage
  • Seamlessly facilitate cost-effective transportation across various handling and storage
  • Effectively communicate relevant information from warehouse pickers to end recipients

These fundamental roles of packaging can serve more than protecting and handling the products. With consumer demands, packaging contributes to the customer experience with your brand by adding the value of security, traceability, and connectedness.


10 Ways to Run an Eco-Friendly Supply Chain

Not only can your company become environment-friendly, but your business can also cut costs AND improve your brand reputation! Evaluate your current materials and processes and consider alternatives for an eco-friendly supply chain.

  1. Use recyclable materials: Alternative materials such as cardboard, paper, and bubble wrap are biodegradable and can be used to package most, if not all, types of products.
  2. Use alternative packaging materials: Manufacturers are already exploring plant-based consumer products. Why not consider using plant-based packaging? Plant-based materials include cornstarch, mushrooms, sugar cane, and seaweed. Replace Styrofoam packing peanuts with biodegradable air peanuts or air pillows made from recyclable materials that are better for the environment AND cheaper to ship.
  3. Minimize production and supply chain processes: Work with suppliers and manufacturers to reduce environmental impact in the supply chain logistics. For example, fulfillment centers can go paperless during the packaging process by going mobile.
  4. Avoid pictures and text on packaging: Customizing the packaging can take up more resources and materials needed. You can use unique materials such as inks made from milk proteins or food instead of harmful chemicals.
  5. Reuse packaging: Use packaging materials that can be repurposed or offer return programs for returning empty packaging. Get more value from each packaging material! For example, organic fabric bags that replace plastic bags can be reused by the consumer.
  6. Ship items in bulk: Selling your products in larger quantities can help with reducing packaging waste. Not only that, sending off your shipments in bulk instead of multiple trips reduce carbon emissions from vehicles.
  7. Reduce packaging size: Pack smartly by using the correct size box to avoid wasting space and materials. You can also reduce packaging collateral to avoid using bigger boxes.
  8. Use carrier packaging: Instead of having customized packaging, consider using the packaging provided by large carriers. Carriers like UPS offer standard cardboard boxes and are involved in recycling programs to make it easier for companies to be sustainable.
  9. Choose a different shipping method: Generally, ground transportation is less harmful to the environment than transport modes like overnight air. Analyze your shipping history to see where you can choose ground shipping over other transport modes to save costs and emissions.
  10. Offset waste with green benefits: If your company can do so, offer to give back to the earth in exchange for some sort of transaction. For example, the handcrafted-watch company WeWood works with organizations to plant a tree for every purchase.

10 ways to run an eco-friendly supply chain infographic


It’s time to consider cleaner alternatives for your supply chain logistics to meet customer demands for doing business with eco-friendly brands! From transportation methods to packaging materials, there are plenty of opportunities for your company to become eco-friendly.


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