Why carbon-neutral shipping is becoming a non-negotiable?

Jul 23, 2022

Offering carbon-neutral shipping is an effective way to bolster your sustainability credentials – and activating it is less complicated than you might think.

Whether or not the products you offer are explicitly “sustainable”, it pays to make your e-commerce service as green as possible.

That’s because the vast majority of consumers today believe sustainability should be front-and-centre when they purchase anything on the internet.

A recent Sifted survey found that 91% of respondents wanted to see eco-friendly shipping options when shopping online, for example.

Carbon neutral shipping is perhaps the single most effective thing you can offer this year to impress mainstream consumers. It sends a clear message about your values and makes consumers feel good about doing their shopping online.

For businesses in the natural and organic space, it’s a no-brainer.

What exactly is carbon neutral shipping?

The modifier “carbon neutral” describes activities that don’t lead to an increase in the amount of carbon in the Earth’s atmosphere.

But that doesn’t mean carbon-neutral shipping is emissions-free. Today, the standard way to achieve carbon neutrality when transporting goods is to offset your emissions by engaging in activities that actually remove carbon from the air (e.g., planting trees).

It’s worth remembering that the term “carbon- neutral shipping” generally refers only to the transportation of the customer’s order, not the preparation and packaging phases.

As consumers become more inquisitive, businesses that make additional steps in the ecommerce journey towards carbon-neutral can gain an edge.

How can I change the pre-shipping process?

Aside from shipping, the ecommerce procedure that likely contributes most to your carbon footprint is the packaging of your customers’ orders.

It’s becoming more common for natural and sustainable businesses to audit their packaging procedures and offset the emissions, but even if you aren’t ready to take that step, there are several simple ways you can help to satisfy consumers…

  • Use recycled or recyclable packing materials wherever possible, and ensure their recycled status is noted somewhere on the packaging
  • De-prioritise aesthetically pleasing packaging, such as additional layers of wrap, and focus instead on minimising your overall packaging volume
  • Pledge to eliminate single-use packaging from your ecommerce process
  • Consider how best to deliver your packaged orders to couriers or the post office. Are your orders being placed inside additional packaging for that part of the journey?

Designing your own branded eco-friendly packaging is another initiative that both impresses consumers and builds loyalty.

Offerings in Australia

You might assume that carbon-neutral couriers and shipping services remain scarce in Australia. But the situation has changed significantly in recent times.

Did you know, for example, that every parcel you send with Australia Post is now carbon neutral? There’s no need to opt in, and you can point consumers to Australia Post’s own literature on the subject.

Several courier and logistics companies offer carbon-neutral shipping, too.

There’s Sendle, which was the first 100 per cent carbon neutral delivery service to launch domestically and mounted a successful campaign in 2019 to convince Australia Post to change its own practices.

Hot on Sendle’s heels is Transdirect, which has been 100 per cent carbon neutral since 2019. And there’s Shippit, which promises that all deliveries booked directly with the company (rather than through a broker) are carbon neutral.

Despite all this activity, most big ecommerce players in Australia have yet to make the switch to carbon-neutral shipping. Amazon, for instance, will only commit to carbon neutrality by 2040.

For smaller players, this presents a clear and present opportunity to win over eco-minded customers. If you haven’t already thought about integrating carbon-neutral shipping into your online store, the time to do so is now.

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