E-commerce market is taking off and committing to circular economy

The e-commerce market is growing exponentially and is multiplying packaging and intralogistics efforts.

Limiting the environmental impact of the sector through the vacuum economy has become one of the major challenges of e-commerce. Chasing the vacuum in e-commerce sector packaging : the subject was immediately put on the table by the experts in the conference area.

This is a fundamental pillar of the market’s improvement axes, for eco-responsible packaging solutions adapted to the intralogistics challenges of an innovative and committed sector.

E-commerce and the circular economy : A vector for an eco-responsible approach

Combining e-commerce and the vacuum economy : a major challenge for the packaging of tomorrow.

As Julien Clery, e-commerce sales manager for DS Smith Packaging Division France, points out, the term “consumer-actor” is at the heart of the market’s challenges, above and beyond any marketing considerations.

DS Smith’s strategy emphasises this forward-looking trend : “Rethinking packaging for a changing world”. This is the company’s raison d’être, its DNA.

And he reminds us that the players in the packaging industry must support and seek solutions in terms of circularity and awareness.

Circularity, recyclability, collection… all stages of the supply chain that are also taken into consideration by the e-commerce sector.

DS Smith’s e-commerce manager also highlights the company’s business model, which is directly oriented towards the circular economy.

A global approach whose day-to-day CSR issues were summed up in one sentence: “To have packaging that sells, with a customer experience, that is not expensive and that, in addition, respects the environment. This approach is very difficult to find; we are therefore tailor-made.

This is a challenge for the entire intralogistics chain, heralding the need for far-reaching changes to align with the realities of the sector.

E-commerce and the vacuum economy: The ultimate challenge

Optimising the filling of packaging, a big step towards the circular economy.

The vacuum economy is the sector’s primary challenge. Surprising statistics confirm this trend :

According to a study conducted with Forbes on empty space in international freight containers, as well as e-commerce packaging :

  • 24% empty areas in containers.
  • 43% empty area for e-commerce packaging.

In other words: a quarter of the containers that travel on ships are empty; about half of every e-commerce parcel remains empty.

In addition, experiments known as “unboxing”(demonstrating the unpacking of goods) have visually proven that the boxes are disproportionately large compared to the products.

In terms of awareness of the challenges of the vacuum economy, a few key figures allow us to envisage sustainable solutions and to redefine the random awareness of leaders :

  • Over 70% of Supply Chain and logistics managers believe that a reduction in vacuum would lead to a reduction in their costs and environmental impact.
  • Only 39% of them think that their managers are aware of this.

The need to raise awareness among managers was explicitly highlighted. The aim is that decision-makers will see their financial interests and will therefore commit themselves to producing sustainable packaging in an economic as well as an ecological way.

Florian Rebergue, Design Manager at DS Smith, recalled the different pillars in favour of the vacuum economy to promote savings in time, space, money and impact on the environment.

These pillars are based on several marketing, commercial and eco-responsible strategies :

  • Stimulate sales.
  • Reduce costs.
  • Limiting risks.
  • Integrate circularity.

Different types of sustainable packaging have been developed to provide alternative solutions for sending and returning packages :

  • The nest solution, with integrated paper for multi-product cushioning.
  • Gift packs that offer cushioning space to fit the product.
  • Sustainable packaging such as packs, made from 100% eco-designed cardboard for e-commerce.

Samuel Lemos, in charge of the development of the licence (ECOECO), recalled the urgent need to avoid the impact of empty packaging on the environment, namely :

  • Overcrowding of collection routes and increased costs.
  • Risk of an increase in illegal dumping.
  • Increased complexity of operational management for the recycling industry.

Finally, the experts interacted with the audience during the question-and-answer session, and closed the debate by reminding them that the primary problem of the vacuum economy was based on the initial work of eco-design, vacuum hunting and the optimisation of the product-packaging pair.

Join us in 2024 for more debates and conferences, and until then: if you are an e-commerce professional, don’t wait to register for the show and contact our sales teams !

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