7 Eco-Friendly Packaging Options for E-commerce Brands

7 Eco-Friendly Packaging Options for E-commerce Brands

Julie Cauville

Julie Cauville

May 3, 2023


In today's increasingly environmentally conscious world, eco-friendly packaging has become a top priority for e-commerce brands.

By using eco-friendly packaging, e-commerce brands can not only reduce their carbon footprint but also appeal to eco-concious shoppers.

In this article, we will explore seven innovative and sustainable packaging alternatives that e-commerce brands should consider to stay ahead of the curve and make a positive impact on our planet.

1. Biodegradable Packing Peanuts

For environmentally aware e-commerce businesses, organic packing peanuts can change the way they protect their merchandise during transportation.

These sustainable alternatives to traditional Styrofoam peanuts are made from natural materials like cornstarch, wheat, or even potato starch.

Rather than regular packing peanuts, organic packing peanuts dissolve quickly and decompose within a couple of weeks.

This helps to keep hazardous plastics out of landfills and significantly cuts down on the ecological effects of packaging supplies.

In fact, according to a study by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), switching to biodegradable packing peanuts can reduce waste by up to 70%.

2. Cardboard and Paper-based Packaging

Cardboard and paper-based packaging are some of the most widely used eco-friendly solutions in the e-commerce industry. Both materials are easily recyclable and biodegradable, making them a sustainable choice for businesses looking to minimize their environmental footprint.

Corrugated cardboard, for instance, is a popular choice for e-commerce packaging due to its durability and lightweight nature.

According to the American Forest & Paper Association, around 93% of corrugated cardboard was recycled in 2018, showcasing its strong potential for reducing waste.

In addition to cardboard, paper tape is another excellent paper-based packaging option that can replace traditional plastic tapes, further decreasing the use of non-biodegradable materials.

To maximize sustainability in paper-based packaging, consider the following tips:

  • Opt for recycled or FSC-certified materials to ensure responsible sourcing
  • Use soy-based or water-activated adhesives instead of petroleum-based ones
  • Encourage customers to recycle or reuse packaging materials

For example, Who Gives A Crap, an eco-friendly toilet paper company  use 100% recycled cardboard boxes and paper tape. Thus, they eliminate the need for plastic packaging while still providing a high-quality, visually appealing product.

3. Recycled Plastic Packaging

Recycled plastic packaging is another eco-friendly option that e-commerce brands can adopt to minimize their environmental impact. By using post-consumer recycled (PCR) materials, businesses can help reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in landfills and oceans, while conserving natural resources and energy.

Popular recycled plastic packaging options include poly mailers, bubble wrap, and shipping bags, all of which can be made from PCR materials.

According to a study by the Association of Plastic Recyclers, using recycled plastic can save up to 88% of energy compared to producing new plastic materials.

When selecting recycled plastic packaging, look for certifications or symbols indicating the PCR content and recyclability. The higher the PCR percentage, the more sustainable the product.

For example, Patagonia is utilizing recycled plastic packaging. They ship their products in recycled plastic bags and have even created a line of clothing made from recycled materials.

4. Reusable Packaging Solutions

In a world where single-use packaging is becoming increasingly scrutinized, reusable packaging solutions offer a fresh approach for e-commerce brands seeking to stand out and reduce their environmental impact. By providing packaging that can be used multiple times, businesses can effectively cut down on waste and cater to eco-conscious customers.

Reusable packaging options, such as mailers and pouches, are designed to be durable, easy to clean, and repurposable for various uses.

For instance, some innovative brands like Hipli have introduced reusable mailers with double adhesive strips, allowing customers to reseal the package and send it on its way to another recipient.

According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, adopting reusable packaging could reduce global plastic packaging waste by up to 20%. This not only benefits the environment but also builds brand loyalty, as customers appreciate companies that promote sustainability.

A great example of a company utilizing reusable packaging is Bigblue, which offers a returnable packaging service for e-commerce brands like Hipli. Moreover, our BlockBox is made from recycled fabrics and clothing to protect glass products and can be repurposed as stuffing for cushions or handicrafts.

By choosing Bigblue, you can reduce your environmental impact and contribute to a circular economy.

5. Plantable Packaging

Imagine a world where packaging not only protects your products but also brings new life to the environment. That's the magic of plantable packaging, an innovative and eco-friendly solution that e-commerce brands can adopt to delight customers and minimize waste.

Plantable packaging, such as seed-infused paper, is embedded with seeds that can be planted after the packaging has served its purpose. This creative approach not only encourages customers to engage with your brand but also contributes to a greener planet by reducing waste and promoting biodiversity.

A study by Cone Communications found that 87% of consumers are more likely to purchase a product with a social or environmental benefit, making plantable packaging an excellent way to capture the attention of eco-minded shoppers.

One shining example of a company using plantable packaging is Botanical PaperWorks. They offer seed-infused paper products, like greeting cards and promotional materials, which can be planted to grow wildflowers, herbs, or vegetables once they've been used.

By incorporating plantable packaging into your e-commerce business, you can create memorable unboxing experiences, appeal to environmentally conscious consumers, and foster a deeper connection between your customers and the natural world.

6. Mushroom-based Packaging

Mushroom-based packaging is an exciting and innovative eco-friendly solution that's quickly gaining popularity among sustainability-focused e-commerce brands. Made from mycelium – the root-like structure of mushrooms – and agricultural waste, this biodegradable packaging material offers a promising alternative to traditional foam and plastic options.

Mycelium-based packaging is not only biodegradable but also compostable, meaning it breaks down into nutrient-rich soil within just a few weeks. This makes it a superior choice for businesses looking to minimize their environmental impact and cater to eco-conscious consumers.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, approximately 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year. By opting for mushroom-based packaging, e-commerce brands can help tackle this pressing issue and reduce the reliance on harmful materials.

One notable company utilizing mushroom-based packaging is Ecovative Design, whose innovative product, MycoComposite™, has been adopted by businesses like Dell and IKEA. By choosing this sustainable packaging material, these brands are demonstrating their commitment to protecting the environment and setting a positive example for the industry.

By incorporating mushroom-based packaging into your e-commerce business, you can showcase your dedication to sustainability, attract eco-minded customers, and contribute to a greener, healthier planet for future generations.

7. Compostable Mailers and Pouches

Made from plant-based materials, these compostable options break down into nutrient-rich compost when disposed of in home or commercial composting facilities.

Compostable packaging not only reduces the amount of plastic waste generated but also offers a sustainable end-of-life solution for packaging materials.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, roughly 300 million tons of plastic are produced each year, with only 9% being recycled. Compostable packaging can help address this challenge by providing a viable alternative to traditional plastic packaging.

When choosing compostable mailers and pouches, look for certifications like ASTM D6400 or EN 13432, which indicate that the product meets compostability standards. Companies like TIPA and noissue offer certified compostable mailers and pouches that can help your business make the switch to greener packaging.

An inspiring example of a company using compostable mailers is Pela, an eco-friendly phone case manufacturer. Their commitment to sustainability shines through their use of 100% compostable mailers, which decompose within 3-6 months in a home composting system.

By incorporating compostable mailers and pouches into your e-commerce packaging strategy, you can demonstrate your commitment to sustainability, reduce your environmental impact, and cater to the growing market of environmentally conscious consumers.


As e-commerce continues to grow, so does the demand for sustainable packaging options that cater to environmentally conscious consumers. From biodegradable packing peanuts to mushroom-based packaging and compostable mailers, the options for sustainable packaging are diverse and innovative.

By incorporating eco-friendly packaging alternatives into their operations, e-commerce brands can minimize their environmental impact, build brand loyalty, and appeal to a growing market of eco-minded shoppers.

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