How was life like before e-commerce? Thanks to it, goods and services are available worldwide with a single click. Also, it's a means to expand the market for many companies in a globalised world.
However, shipping items from one corner of the planet to another requires assuring these arrive in perfect conditions. For this, proper packaging is a must. But, does it mean these goods must be covered with layers and layers of protecting material? Here we share this real life example.
The image on the left shows one of the two cups bought by e-commerce. Each of these where packaged in a small cardboard box, enough to protect it during transportation (maybe also wrapped with some old crumpled newspapers to be on the safe side?).
Surprisingly, these boxes where likewise put into a much bigger cardboard box, with LDPE bubble plastic to fill the vast remaining empty space inside. So, in the picture on the right, you have the total amount of cardboard and plastic used to protect the two cups... isn't it crazy?
Okay: both cardboard and LDPE are recyclable materials. Yet, some important questions remain open:
The fact is that, to ship around 960cm3 of fragile items, they used a 18.816cm3 volume. In other words: the packaging is about 20 times larger than the volume of the items! If we also analyse the weight added by useless protection materials, the situation becomes even more outrageous.
Efficient use of transported volume is crucial for a sustainable transport system. Be that by ship, by plane, by train, by road, there is energy and fuel involved. A bad management of wrapping and packaging materials, leads to the release of emissions just to transport air in containers. In this case, 95% of the volume is air.
It's worth to say that this is not an exclusive feature of e-commerce. We can daily find overpackaged items anywhere (meat, fish, veggies, biscuits, cleaning products, clothing, tools and DIY materials... even wrappings and containers!)
Eco-tips to not contribute to this craziness:
Can you come up with something else? Would you like to share your experience with us? Feel free to comment!