Skip to main content

Customers care about reducing their carbon footprint. Now’s the time for shippers to invest in the trend towards carbon-neutral shipping by doing the right thing for their customers, and the planet.

There’s little doubt carbon emissions are a leading cause of the climate crisis and the possible repercussions we current face. In terms of combating the problem through the global community, many industries are being encouraged to look for ways to reduce these emissions in attempt to slow down the damage.

In the logistics industry, shipping methods and packaging materials produce a high volume of black carbon which affects the carbon dioxide in the air.

In an effort to reduce these carbon emissions in the shipping industry, a growing number of brands are looking at more sustainable practices, including the option of carbon-neutral shipping.

The focus here will be to learn what carbon-neutral shipping is, why it’s important, and how you as a shipper can reduce your business’ carbon emissions.

What is Carbon-Neutral Shipping?

The term “Carbon-neutral” refers to practices that, when properly executed, produce a net-zero amount of carbon dioxide. The aim of carbon-neutral shipping is to reduce the carbon footprint associated with shipping products.

As we now know, carbon-dioxide is one of the leading reasons for climate change. Switching to carbon-neutral shipping brings us one step closer to reducing our global carbon footprint, and protecting the environment.

In practice, achieving a neutral carbon balance is a matter of applying benchmarks and measuring efforts that improve results.

For example, solutions such as government sanctioned programs monitor segments of the supply chain for energy efficiency. One such program, SmartWay Transportation Partnership partners with members of the supply chain and holds them accountable for being environmentally responsible.

Consumers do care about their carbon footprint

With climate change issues worsening and continually making headlines, more consumers are turning to online shopping. Moreover, consumers are also making decisions that favour brands focused on efforts to protect the environment, including their ability to reduce their carbon footprint.

Through their own research, consumers are becoming more aware of the impact carbon has on the environment. And when given the choice, informed consumers are more likely to opt in to sustainable shipping solutions when making a purchase.

What about carbon offset shipping?

Considering the intricate nature of world-wide logistics, carbon offsets are the only real way to offer carbon-neutral shipping for the time being – we still have to deal with currently high carbon emissions.

In an effort to produce a net-zero amount of carbon dioxide and invest in ecosystems that protect the world, carbon offset shipping programs are in place to compensate for carbon emitted through operations and transportation processes.

Until the time comes when all carriers transport packages via more eco-friendly ways, such as the SmartWay program, brands need to make decisions that benefit the Earth and future generations.

Here are some eco-friendly ways you can help your own company:

  • Use green logistics services, such as Brimich, that are forward-thinking in terms of environmental responsibility by and actively reducing their own carbon footprint.
  • Use your own eco-friendly packaging products such as recycled kraft paper as dunnage to protect your packages during transportation.
  • If you don’t have a 3PL partner, you can try to distribute your inventory across multiple fulfillment center locations. By storing inventory closer to your customers, you optimize last-mile delivery which can save on shipping costs and fuel.

How to Reduce Carbon Emissions in Shipping

Along with carbon-neutrality, it’s important to focus on reducing emissions throughout the entire supply chain. Let’s look at a few different ways your business can reduce carbon emissions during the shipping process.

Use recycled & recyclable packing materials

As online shopping becomes more and more popular, packing materials used to pack and ship orders are likewise becoming more of customer’s responsibility as disposable waste. As such, eco-friendly packaging can help minimize non-recyclable waste and add a sustainable practice to your business.

For some businesses, your brand’s packaging is almost as important as your products – environmentally friendly packaging reflects the ideals of your company. Packing materials should not only ensure safe delivery, but should also focus on sustainably.

With increased demand for change, eco-friendly packaging options for your business are becoming more available in an ever-widening range of materials.:

  • Papers and cardboard. These are easily reusable and recyclable with multiple sources to suit your business.
  • Plant fibres. Eco-friendly materials made from jute and cotton to wrap your product.
  • Bioplastics. Plastics derived from plant-based materials well-suited for composting
  • Inflatable air pillows. Inflatable plastic film bags made from post-consumer recycled materials
  • Corrugated bubble wrap. Alternative dunnage typically made out of 100% recycled cardboard

Depending on your needs, some of these options may help enable carbon-neutral shipping more than others. Plus pricing for some materials may be more effective than other.

Minimize the amount of overall packaging

Packing a small item in an oversize is a common packing mistake – and one that customers notice right away. It’s also one that costs businesses.

Dimensional weight is a pricing technique carriers use for calculating the amount of space a package takes up. Sometimes, a lighter package can take up more room than a heavier one based on the DIM weight (dimensional weight) or shipping class.

As a best practice, the more you minimize the amount of packaging used, the more money you should be able to save for a smaller DIM weight.

Avoid single-use plastic

There are plenty of alternatives to bubble wrap such as recycled kraft paper and other biodegradable natural fibre materials. As mentioned above, another option is corrugated bubble wrap, which can be used in place of foam peanuts and typical plastic bubble wrap.

The Bottom Line: How Much Does Carbon-Neutral Shipping Cost?

For the near future, making a shipment from your business carbon-neutral will typically result in a small increase the price. But in sense, the end result is worth it.

As a current example, opting for a “Carbon Neutral Shipping” option through one of the major services such as UPS will generally range from 5 cents for ground shipping, to 20 cents for air packages, to 75 cents for international packages.

Until there’s more availability of suitable solutions to ship your products, you will be paying a little more to offset the current problem – but at the same time you are choosing to invest in a good deed.