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Online shopping firms criticised for excessive use of cardboard packaging

19 September 2018 - 12:04 by David Aiken

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Although safe shopping online is a hugely convenient and affordable option for millions of consumers, it is not without its issues. A new study from Smithers Pira has shown that one major problem that has yet to be sufficiently addressed is that of the volumes of cardboard that are being consumed by the e-commerce industry.

Bloomberg reports that over the next five years there will be a 14.3 per cent uptick in the amount of packaging that goes into the delivery of products orders via the web, making it the biggest segment for growth in the packaging sector overall.

Experts argue that the retailers themselves are not doing enough to ensure that their packaging practices are sustainable, especially since a lot of the cardboard used to ship products to consumers ends up in landfill sites, rather than being recycled.

Study spokesperson Martin Lange explained that the amount of cardboard being sent for recycling was a problem in itself, as the high volumes being submitted made it less valuable and thus an economically problematic material for businesses to process.

Furthermore the fact that more of this type of packaging is ending up with consumers means that it is distributed on a much broader basis than it was in the past, when the majority was sent to retail outlets rather than being subsequently passed on to domestic residences.

Clearly there are cases in which adding extra cardboard packaging to products prior to shipping is patently unnecessary, since the items themselves tend to come well packaged when leaving the factory in the first place. This means that retailers do have a responsibility to think more carefully about the proportion of cardboard that they are using and make efforts to cut back in future.