According to a recent report from The Freedonia group, global e-commerce packaging demand is forecast to reach $22.1 billion in 2023, spurred by robust growth in e-commerce sales worldwide. Additionally, an increase in consumer purchases in categories requiring higher value packaging for shipping (such as premium graphics, insulated packaging, or sustainable packaging) in more established e-commerce markets will propel advances.
The Evolution of E-Commerce Packaging Continues Toward Sustainability
Sustainability and recyclability are significant issues for the overall packaging industry, as consumers want to be able to easily recycle the packaging they receive with their purchases. This is especially important for e-commerce orders, as products often arrive in not only the primary product packaging but are shipped with such secondary e-commerce packaging products as shipping boxes, mailers, or protective packaging (bubble packaging or air pillows).
Because many e-commerce customers prefer more eco-friendly packaging, retailers and packaging suppliers have made many efforts to address issues of sustainability, including:
- Expanding access to and adoption of household recycling
- Expanding upcycling, which is the creative reuse of waste materials to make new products of better quality or environmental value
- Releasing new eco-friendly packaging products
Loop: A New Template for Eco-Friendly Online Shopping?
For example, recycling company TerraCycle’s launch of Loop aims to address the sustainability of e-commerce packaging by creating a “circular shopping platform”. This platform allows consumers to not only order products online but also return all of the packaging for reuse, including the outer shipping container (a reusable, zippered tote bag).
The new e-commerce website launch is aided by partnerships with a number of consumer product companies, including Unilever, Mars, Nestle, and Procter & Gamble. These companies have developed multi-use packaging for products sold on Loop that can be returned by consumers via UPS, cleaned, and then reused for more products. Additionally, retailers like Kroger and Walgreens are on board with the development of the new shopping platform.
Although Loop is launching on a small scale (available only to shoppers in some highly urbanized US zip codes, as well as Paris, France), the announcement of this new shopping platform reflects the desire to greatly reduce the amount of packaging waste in e-commerce. As reusable packaging continues to be developed, demand for single-use e-commerce packaging products such as bubble packaging may dwindle in importance.
For More Information on Packaging in E-Commerce
Largely propelled by increasing demand in the well established markets in China and the United States, global e-commerce packaging demand is expected to continue growing rapidly. For more information on the global e-commerce packaging market, check out The Freedonia Group’s industry study Global E-Commerce Packaging, which offers:
- historical data and forecasts
- demand by product, market, region, and country
- analysis of factors affecting demand
- a breakdown of industry players
About the Author:
Cara Brosius holds a B.A. in economics. She is an industry analyst at The Freedonia Group, where she writes industry studies on US consumer & commercial goods and packaging.