Understanding Packaging's Role in Environmental Impact

The total environmental impact of every e-commerce order is the total of many different factors. Manufacturing resources, primary packaging, distribution, and the shipping cycle are all part of the total impact. Using the example of a tablet, the shipping cycle (the journey from distribution center to consumer) accounts for about 2% of the total environmental impact of that tablet. Of that 2%, packaging materials accounts for about 15% of the shipping cycle’s impact. That equals about .003% of the total environmental impact.

Doesn’t seem like a valuable place to look for sustainability improvements, right? Wrong.

If a tablet is broken during the shipping cycle because the wrong protective packaging was used, the environmental impact of that tablet just doubled.

The resources used to manufacture a replacement, ship the replacement to the consumer, and return the broken product can more than double a product's sustainability impact.Damage Product Environmental Impact

Preventing damage is often the most sustainable thing a manufacturer can do when shipping its products. 

Even a 1% Damage Rate Is an Unacceptable Damage Rate

Many manufacturers are willing to accept “small” damage rates of 1% to 3%. Accepting this amount of damage may seem inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be. Every damaged product results not only in unnecessary environmental resource waste, but also damages a customer relationship. One electronics manufacturer sold over 44 million tablets in 2018. If they accepted 1% damage, that means they are willing to risk losing 440,000 customers and doubling the environmental impact of those 440,000 tablets.

 Our Packaging Application Centers are dedicated to designing and testing a protective packaging solution that ensures a safe, sustainable shipping cycle. 

Request a consultation


Blog: Understanding the True Cost of Damage

Read more from our director of sustainability, Dan Healey, on how damage impacts a company's sustainable profile.

Packaging Design Application Centers

Sealed Air’s global network of Packaging Design Application Centers offer unparalleled expertise in solving your packaging challenges.

Download our annual sustainability report to learn more about our commitment to a more sustainable future.