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Zero Waste Solutions for the Sustainable eCommerce Company

With the impact of eCommerce we need to change our reliance on plastic to more sustainable zero waste packaging. 

Zero Waste Solutions for eCommerce:

With the beginning of the New Year most of us have some sort of resolution requiring a shift in our habits. There has been clear and consistent messaging from global environmental health organisations and large retail brands regarding a move towards sustainability as a resolution and corporate responsibility. With the ever increasing impact we have as humans on the earth we occupy there are some positives to take from this trend, shifting away from the reliance on plastic towards more sustainable zero waste packaging. 

eCommerce will become the single biggest global sales channel platform by 2021 and with that comes an ever increasing requirement for product packaging. Consumers are more aware than ever what damage plastic objects, packaging and other microplastic pieces are doing to the environment, specifically the ocean. It’s estimated that between five to thirteen tonnes of plastic enter our oceans every year. 

In this article we look at Zero Waste Solutions for the Sustainable eCommerce Company and those brands who are leading the innovation race with zero waste eCommerce strategies. We also review what options are available for Irish online brands to embrace this positive but necessary transition to keep themselves relevant to the Irish consumer. 

What Is Zero Waste?

To best define it; Zero waste is a set of propositions that defines a system of waste prevention by redesigning the lifecycle of certain non-biodegradable products so they can be reused for another purpose. 

At present only 9% of the World’s Plastic is Recycled.

The Need to Switch to Zero Waste. 

At present only 9% of the world’s plastic is recycled, with this in mind and the volume entering our oceans on an annual basis its an obvious issue that needs immediate attention. In order to move to a zero waste society it takes a shift in everyday behaviours and daily habits need to be broken. 

A Zero Waste society reduces the amount of energy required to manufacture non-biodegradable products as they are recycled to make new ones. Zero Waste is also good for the environment. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions, it conserves natural resources by reducing the need to produce new products as older ones are reused and recycled.  

zero waste ecommerce

How have eCommerce Brands embraced the circular economy?

Looking at the Fashion Industry and emerging trends there would seem to be some determination from Global brands like Nike and Christian Dior that are now seeing the benefits of a Zero Waste product lifecycle. They understand it’s importance if they are to remain relevant to their own customers. For eCommerce the biggest obstacle is packaging, the shift from ‘single-use plastic-bags or brown boxes’ to artistically designed boxes and bags that provide multi-functional uses and lengthen their own lifecycle is a simple but positive to a zero waste operation. 

Another good example of an omni channel brand adapting to sustainability is Puma with its ‘Clever Little Bag’ project. Launched back in 2010, it was unfortunately discontinued after a few years (with no explanation by Puma). But it still showed how forward thinking the sports brand was at the time around sustainability and zero waste. The infographic below outlines the lifecycle of the ‘clever little bag’ and the benefits of adapting this strategy. 

zero waste ecommerce

Courtesy of Puma

Who are the main Distruptors?

zero waste ecommerce

Loop is one, it’s international consumer brand circular shopping platform. Allowing customers to buy their favourite branded products online. Loop is aimed at reducing packaging waste by delivering products in reusable containers. Once finished these containers are then shipped back to the loop facility for cleansing and reuse for the next customer. Reusable totes are provided to Loop shoppers to hold the empty containers, once the tote is full the user simply contacts Loop via their website and requests a driver to pickup the full tote. Containers and bottles provided normally get one hundred uses before they are disposed of. This process doesn’t keep these products out of the waste cycle but does reduce the need for new ones to be manufactured by a considerable percentage.  

What options are there for Irish consumers?

There are a number of zero waste eCommerce providers in Ireland.  Below are some that we came across. 

Based out of Waterford city Youme Zero Waste Groceries provides a wide range of plastic free items to buy online all sourced from Ireland. They also do Pop-up marketing activations so they can connect closer with their growing customer base, exchanging stories about the efforts they have to switch to a zero waste lifestyle.  

Reuzi offers a corporate consultancy service offering advice and direction to Irish based companies on how to transform their working environments and workspaces to a zero waste eco-system. They also offer educational programmes to schools for children to get embed a good understanding on how zero waste environments benefit the community. Their website has an online store with a variety of recyclable and plastic free home products.

The Minimal Waste Company  provides another online option for the Irish consumer considering moving to a zero waste environment. Their packaging is free and biodegradable allowing the recycling process to continue when buying their products.

There is an ever growing number of Irish companies popping up focused on delivering a zero waste eCommerce experience. We’ve mentioned a few, to find more near you, check out the dedicated online directory GoZero. 

Top 3 eCommerce Fashion Brands fully immersed in a Zero Waste Strategy.

zero waste ecommerce

Ayooxgen – an upscale, chic, unisex clothing brand, using only organic and zero waste fashion materials and fabrics. 

 

zero waste ecommerce

Reve En Vert a UK based online fashion boutique which clothing ranges are made from organic and recyclable materials.

 

zero waste ecommerce

Ecoture – an Australian online unisex clothing collection, hand picked from designers who value sustainability and cruelty free fabrics. 

Tips to becoming a Zero Waste eCommerce Company.

Developing a Zero Waste strategy for your eCommerce operation takes time and planning. It’s best to integrate one step at a time, firstly looking at customer faced changes and then internally to what can be done within your organisation. Reducing your eco-footprint will ultimately save you money, don’t forget the power of content and how you can convey your Zero Waste conversion journey in your social media, video and blog content. In the eyes of your customers it draws attention on how you want to have a positive impact on the environment. Here are a few tips to becoming a Zero Waste eCommerce Company:

  • Environmentally friendly and recyclable packaging.
  • Eco Friendly shipping methods.
  • Reward your customers for choosing a greener option like an email receipt instead of a paper one or choosing reusable delivery boxes and packaging instead of single-use throwaways. 
  • Use organic raw materials.
  • Try to recycle as much as you can in the production process. 

 

Key Takeaways.

Sustainable eCommerce is thankfully here to stay and grow considerably in the coming decade. We produced and disposed of more plastic in the last decade than we did in the whole of the last century. The impact it’s having on our planet’s oceans and climate are coming to a point of irreversible change. With eCommerce continually engrossing the planets shift in buying behaviours, online retailers are under more pressure than ever to operate in an ethical way that has the least amount of impact on the environment. Zero Waste strategies should not only be seen as corporate responsibility for eCommerce merchants but also form part of their marketing comms. Most online shoppers today are Millennials and Gen Z’ers who are also the most environmentally aware and not dis-couraged to buy products deemed more expensive because they are recycled or made from organic raw materials.  

If you are deciding to embark on a zero waste eCommerce marketing strategy or already have and need some advice please reach out and contact izest Marketing here.