According to Adam Page, the Director of Research and Reports at Smithers Pira, that helps explain the explosion in e-commerce amid the COVID-19 pandemic, when consumers largely shifted their purchasing habits from in-person to online ordering. Thanks to COVID, the e-commerce market has accelerated significantly, stressing the supply chain even more than it already was. In fact, in 2018, a study from PMMI (Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute) showed that the global supply chain was already challenged due to rising e-commerce sales. Back then, it only accounted for less than 10 percent of total retail sales. In 2018, many CPGs also reported a desire to change their secondary packaging to become more environmentally-friendly. Just as e-commerce has exploded in the COVID era, so too has a focus on developing packaging that's more sustainable — and that's a trend that's not likely to subside even in a post-COVID world.
Sustainable Trends in E-Commerce
Sustainable packaging is crucial to the well-being of the environment. But it's in-demand by consumers as well. According to various studies, about two-thirds of all North American consumers prefer brands dedicated to the environment. Furthermore, another study states that nearly 90 percent of consumers want brands to be more environmentally responsible. And being that e-commerce is a crucial area of growth, the pressure is on to adapt to this increasingly emerging segment. We're already seeing various ways this is occurring, such as:
- Bundling: Receive items ordered online individually or together? Even if it means waiting a few days to receive certain items, more and more consumers are selecting the latter option to reduce packaging and minimize the impact of repeat last-mile delivery.
- Light weighting: This is where flexible packaging can replace glass, aluminum, and corrugated packaging for e-commerce. Flexible packaging tends to be lighter in weight, which improves fuel economy and reduces the number of pollutants emitted during transportation.
- Material simplification: One of the reasons plastics and flexible packaging has presented difficulties with recycling is that it's typically comprised of various layers that need to be separated to become feasible. Many companies are now working to develop more simple materials that can be easily recycled. In the U.S., plastic recycling is only about 14 percent, yet plastics are often the packaging material of choice. There's a critical opportunity here.
The Role of Packaging Design
Chances are, when you order an item online, it arrives at your home days later in an oversized box that's way too big for the size of the product that it's housing. There's this box, and then there's all the protective packaging that goes on inside of this main box. All in all, it can account for a lot of packaging in one online order, much of it that is wasted. There's an increasing drive to create minimalist packaging for e-commerce orders, optimizing packaging to only include that which is necessary to ship and protect a product during shipment adequately. Certain firms have already created innovative inserts and other solutions to safeguard fragile items while significantly reducing the amount of used packaging. In the not too distant future, the packages that end up on your doorstep could be appropriately sized and only include the specific amount of packaging that is necessary.
While e-commerce will likely stabilize in a post-pandemic world, these shopping behaviors that consumers have adopted will not go away. As a result, the packaging industry will continue to have to develop innovative solutions to continue to meet the sustainability needs of its consumers. It's only going to become a more important driver in e-commerce moving forward.
The Future Is Flexible!
Our marketplace is not on Amazon, but our approach and packaging philosophy is very much in step with this latest mandate from the people, if you will. CDF has built a reputation as a packaging innovator, and we’ve been ahead of this curve in the B2B world for some time with our many flexible packaging solutions. One solution is Meta® Pail with Smart Pail Inside, which is the integration of two technologies to replace plastic pails.
The Meta® Pail is a semi-rigid, vacuum-formed, plastic pail insert with a hermetically sealed peel-reseal laminated film lid, housed within an 8-sided corrugated Meta container. Meta Pail transports semi-viscous, solid, and most liquid products currently shipped in plastic pails.
We’re proud to say that we have considered all of the above-stated pain points—and their solutions—when we designed Meta Pail.
Meta Pail has a very favorable “frustration-free” packaging profile that benefits our customers, along with positive sustainability alignment. These features include:
- Easy to erect in three easy steps
- Can be knocked down and easily stacked
- Lighter-weight material; less packaging (vs. plastic pails)
- Lowered supply chain costs: operational, storage, handling, transportation
- One extra layer per pallet; 33% savings on transportation costs and operational efficiency
- Easy open, easy close with large peel-reseal lidding structure—hybrid peel option with peel-reseal and one-pull features for ease of disposal
- Disposes easily—recyclable: collapsible plastic and corrugated
- Lighter weight than a 5-gallon plastic pail—easy handling
- Saves space from less packaging—collapsible insert for improved space
- savings at both the processor and end-user
Saving the Environment and Your Bottom Line
Everyone wins when we work collectively toward sustainability goals. When we all pitch in through simple practices and everyday business decisions, we all get there. Meet your sustainability initiatives, for your business and the planet.
Sustainable Benefits of Using Meta Pail with Smart Pail include:
- Less disposal volume, easier to recycle: 4 collapsed Smart Pails fit into the space of 1 five-gallon plastic pail
- Reduced impact on climate change (CO2 emissions) by 52% over rigid pails
- 72% less solid waste than rigid pails
- 64% less energy usage than rigid pails
- Recyclable components: HDPE pail and corrugated container
- Ability to collapse or nest for minimized and efficient disposal/recycling—takes up less space in a truck, plant, or dumpster
Disrupting the Packaging Industry
We set out to disrupt the packaging industry with concerted efforts to meet the needs of our customers while also taking care of the planet. CDF Corporation has a long history of innovation in flexible packaging, from accordion inserts to unique IBC liner valves. CDF’s high level of expertise and service ensure a reliable partner for many packaging needs: custom food packaging, chemical, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, and more. Download our Meta KD8 with Smart Pail brochure for more details about this innovative packaging system.