Packaging is essential for protecting the products we send our customers. In 2017, over 25,000 metric tons of packaging materials were used at Zalando for customer deliveries. With our business volume increasing, we also expect an increase in the amount of packaging material we use.
Declining resource availability means it is more urgent than ever to switch to more sustainable materials, and to find solutions to reduce, reuse, recycle and recover post-consumer waste. Our environmental vision is to decouple our economic growth from our ecological footprint. An important part of achieving this vision is to improve the sustainability of our packaging materials.
Target: We want 100% of our packaging to be sustainably sourced by 2020*
*Packaging procured by Zalando. For packaging not procured by us, our aim is to work with our partners to achieve the 100% target over time.
Sustainably sourced packaging materials are those that meet our present packaging needs, without compromising the future - both of Zalando and the world around us.
Sustainable Packaging Principles - What We Are Aiming at:
Improving the sustainability of our packaging is a journey
We started by conducting a life cycle analysis (LCA) of our main packing materials with the support of external experts. LCA is a technique to assess environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product's life cycle. We wanted to understand the environmental impact of our current materials in comparison to more sustainable alternatives, and use this as the foundation for decision-making.
The analysis revealed that we are well underway towards our goal with the material of our current boxes.
Zalando Shipping Bags
The sizes of our shipping bags can be varied when closing them; a benefit when transporting a big number of packages. In addition, ventilation holes ensure that unneeded air can escape. As a result, only the volume needed for the ordered article is transported. This not only reduces the carbon footprint during shipping, but also fulfillment costs.
Supported by the LCA results, we decided to switch from virgin plastic to shipping bags made from 80% post-consumer recycled (PCR) content. Post-consumer means that the materials come from a finished product that was purchased by a consumer and used. One of the main environmental benefits from this is that it keeps lots of material from going to the landfill. Additionally, compared to virgin material bags, using PCR content saves up to 40% of CO2 emissions per kilogram of product.
Taking packaging a step further, our shippings bags will also be Blue Angel certified. This ecolabel guarantees that a product or service meets high standards when it comes to its environmental, health, and performance characteristics.
What’s next in the journey?
We will look further into more sustainable alternatives for our polybags; the transparent bags that protect each of the items.
Taking the sustainability of our packaging to the next level requires a holistic approach. In addition to materials used, we analyze our packaging processes to reduce the amount of materials used. We also want to start engaging with our partner brands to encourage them to switch to more sustainable packing materials.