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The State of Green Ecommerce in 2018

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When it comes to going green there is a lot of noise out there and this sort of ‘greenwashing’ has turned off a lot of customers to the very concept.  However, all is not lost and the fact is that companies large and small are harnessing the concepts of closed-loop supply chains and reduce, reuse, and recycle to not only make money but to also make the world a better place.

Given this, the Trump administration’s war on the environment may be a losing fight at this point.  Yet, this should mean that we can take going green for granted as the risk is rising temperatures and extreme weather are already starting to impact our lives.  As such, here is everything you need to know about the state of green ecommerce in 2018.

Commitment to Change

In many ways, businesses are continuing to pursue the greening of their supply chains without waiting for politicians to get their act together.  Maybe this is due to pressure from investors or maybe it is the fact that many companies are gaining advantage by reducing waste.  Either way, the trend is one in which companies such as Apple and Walmart are continually raising the bar.

But it is not just the mega companies getting into the act.  In fact, many small businesses are also showing their commitment to change.  This can be seen by the number of retailers on Etsy and other marketplaces who are flexing their muscles when it comes to being green.  As such, green ecommerce has become so much more than just big companies using the concept for marketing and it is extending to a way of doing business.

Packaging, Packaging, Packaging

If you really want to be green when it comes to ecommerce, then one area you need to focus on is the all the packaging that comes with the things we buy online.  Sure, packaging is a problem throughout retail, but it is more acute in ecommerce as retailers don’t have the option of shipping in bulk.

As such, ecommerce giants such as Amazon are beginning to set their sights on what these boxes mean for the earth.  In fact, they are going so far as to encourage customers to reuse their boxes.  The program is seeking ways to reduce packaging waste through reuse and recycling.  To date, the program has helped to eliminate more than 215,000 tons of packaging material, and it is just getting started.

But it is not just the big guys who are getting into the act and some ecommerce players are not only seeking to eliminate packaging waste in how they deliver products but they are also offering items such as wholesale jute burlap tote bags online.  In this way, ecommerce sellers are not only offering ways to reduce packaging in how they ship their products but also for brick and mortar retailers to offer a way to reduce their reliance on plastic bags.

Handle with Care

Another issue with the greening of ecommerce is shipping.  However, many sellers are taking steps to tackle this as well.  Options include offering carbon offsets to ecommerce shipments to finding ways to incentivize two- or three-day shipping over express options.

Beyond this, another green ecommerce shipping trend is the option to pick up the package at a local retailer or rally point.  While this does not fit in well in suburban areas where customers will need to drive to pick up their packages, it does work in urban areas where customers can walk or ride to get what they bought online.

In addition, to these new shipping options, the trend to integrate online shopping with brick and mortar outlets are helping to breathe new life into traditional retail.  Not only does this give shoppers a reason to go into their local stores but maybe they will spend the time to get something else they need – at least that is the hope.

Powering the Way

While this last trend is not consumer-facing it is extremely important as the machine which make ecommerce possible require a lot of energy.  In the past, this used to mean data centers which were powered, and cooled, by coal and natural gas.  However, many of the companies in the business of managing these data centres, are turning to wind and solar as their energy sources of choice. And it doesn’t stop there, Entrepreneurs like Alex Dembitzer have also realised they too, have a role to play, in educating on new energy and why it’s important to harness greener energy sources to reduce the impact of traditional energy on the environment.

This trend will have a big impact on the greening of ecommerce going forward.  Not only will reliance on wind and solar power help to reduce carbon emissions but it also allows the opportunity to collocate the data centers and energy production – something which reduces the need for transmission lines and increases resiliency.

As you can see the greening of ecommerce is more than just marketing, it is a series of tangible operational advantages which will remake the industry and our world.