The market for eco-friendly packaging has matured immensely over the last decade as thought-leaders have found ways to make packaging part of the circular economy. But it still has plenty of room for growth and further improvement.
Kyle Wente and Saloni Doshi are not only advocates for improving the eco-friendliness of packaging, but they’re also at the forefront of innovating new solutions through their company EcoEnclose. EcoEnclose offers sustainable packaging solutions for companies of all sizes.
“When we started in the business, the standard poly mailer was virgin and manufactured overseas. We were able to bring in an 88% recycled, domestically manufactured poly mailer and over time, moved that 100 percent recycled and 50 percent post-consumer,” said Doshi. “We’re trying to level up the game constantly across all of our offerings.”
Wente and Doshi are working to be an “ecologically net positive” company by 2030. That means that the products, operations and supply chain for all of EcoEnclose would be a positive, regenerative force. Once achieved, whenever EcoEnclose sells a product, it would actually reduce carbon and strengthens the environment.
Impact of E-commerce on Greenhouse Gas Emissions
E-commerce has made finding goods and getting them to your doorstep incredibly easy. And believe it or not, e-commerce leads to 17 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than brick-and-mortar shopping. But that’s not to say it is a carbon-free operation.
Packaging accounts for 45 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions from e-commerce. The logistics portion is actually the smallest cause of greenhouse emissions in the e-commerce process.
While moving to e-commerce is good for the environment, there’s still plenty of work to do in making packaging better for the environment and getting more brands on board with using eco-packaging.
How EcoEnclose Serves Businesses of All Sizes
Doshi estimates that EcoEnclose will serve 28,000–30,000 businesses this year. And about 90 percent of those businesses will go out to the EcoEnclose website and purchase their packaging supplies as if they were buying from any online retailer.
It’s extremely transactional because these smaller businesses know exactly what they want as far as sustainable packaging. They can customize the packages and Doshi’s team will print the branding on the package on demand to meet their needs.
But the other 10 percent of orders are a much more collaborative process. These are large, enterprise brands that come to EcoEnclose looking for something specific or looking to achieve a certain initiative.
Sometimes these companies have a vague idea of their sustainability goals and the EcoEnclose team helps the company further elaborate on its sustainability mission. Other times, the company has a specific type of paper in mind and needs EcoEnclose to find a source for the material and make custom-sized packages to meet their needs.
The blend of small businesses alongside larger ones works well for EcoEnclose. Smaller businesses are more willing to try out something new and provide a solid use case for these innovative concepts. Larger companies appreciate having proven packaging strategies that they can build upon and customize to meet their needs.
Helping Businesses Outline Their Sustainability Goals
EcoEnclose works with all types of companies. Some have a specific sustainability promise while others are early on in their mission to reduce their company’s carbon footprint. Regardless of where they are at, EcoEnclose meets their functional needs while helping them fulfill their sustainability promises.
EcoEnclose helps match companies’ sustainability goals to their fulfillment needs using vetted, trusted manufacturing partners. Most of the company’s manufacturers are based in the US with a few interspersed throughout other countries in North America, Europe and Asia. As the company takes on some international business, it is partnering with suppliers in those areas to get materials closer to where they do business.
Doshi and her team build a relationship with all entities in the supply chain. It helps them innovate, learn about new opportunities for products and anticipate changes to the supply chain to best serve their clients.
Unique Products EcoEnclose Offers
EcoEnclose is constantly looking for ways to improve packaging to get a truly circular packaging industry. One of its most popular products is its poly mailer. These mailers are made from 100 percent recycled content and 50 percent post-consumer content. With a reusable tear strip, customers can return items reusing the mailers.
You can recycle these mailers in a thin film bin. Or you can ship them to EcoEnclose for recycling under the Poly Mailer Take Back Program. The mailers come in ivory or gray and you can customize them with branding.
Another innovative product that EcoEnclose offers is printing with Algae Ink. Most printing is done with black ink that requires fossil fuel for generation. But Algae Ink uses a net negative carbon technology that sequesters carbon.
Stickers come on release liners that are often paper or a plastic-based film sheet. This prevents the sticky surface of the sticker from attaching itself to something prematurely. The world uses 60 billion of these very challenging-to-recycle materials each year. EcoEnclose offers custom stickers on zero waste liners. The liners are made from 100 recycled material.
EcoEnclose has also offered products made from wheat straw, which is a next-gen fiber that comes from agricultural waste after harvesting wheat to produce flour. The fibers are often left behind in the field or disposed of.
Before EcoEnclose approached them, they couldn’t find anyone who would purchase wheat straw pulp because it was still experimental. But when it comes to reaching their goal of being a truly ecologically net positive company by 2030, wheat straw fibers are the perfect materials for making packaging. The products are currently unavailable as the wheat straw manufacturer had to shut down temporarily, but it’s an innovative packaging product that EcoEnclose is excited about.
The Future of the Sustainable Packaging Marketplace
To reach a point of true circularity for the packaging market, all material inputs must be net positive for the planet including how they are grown and produced. For EcoEnclose, everything they do is to work toward that goal.
While sustainability started with moving from plastic to paper, the industry quickly realized that it put a strain on trees. That’s why there is now an emphasis on diversifying the fiber basket with materials like wheat straw that would otherwise be discarded of. Learn more about how EcoEnclose sources the most sustainable paper.
But the materials are not the only thing that the marketplace needs. Improving the recycling infrastructure is also an important step in making packaging more sustainable.
Finally, a huge area of opportunity is in reusable packaging. EcoEnclose offers ReEnclose reusable mailers made from 100 percent recycled polyester. Some industries are still looking for ways to use these packaging materials, but companies with return shipping built into their business model find these a great way to reduce their environmental impacts. You can reuse the mailers 20 or more times and then send them back to EcoEnclose for responsible recycling.
It’s certainly an exciting time for sustainable packaging and an opportune time to be in e-commerce because there are so many options. Consumers and businesses alike have an opportunity to reduce the impacts the e-commerce industry has on the environment.
At Design Positive, we help sustainable brands tell their story and find innovative ways to reduce their carbon footprint while doing it all in an access-to-all approach.