December 5, 2019

The Christmas Season and E-commerce packaging waste


The joys of holiday gift-giving come with a mountain of e-commerce packaging

The Christmas season and e-commerce packaging waste – The Christmas season has always been a time for sharing love and cheer with family and friends through the joy of gift-giving. Families reunite, braving airport lines and inclement weather to celebrate and exchange thoughtful presents wrapped in colorful paper. The holidays are a time for sharing, but, in truth, our wonderful tradition of giving gifts to our loved ones is propped up by a mountain of e-commerce packaging waste.


The rise of e-commerce gift shopping

In years past, this time of the year witnessed a surge of retail shopping, featuring long store lines, excessive crowds at the mall, and, of course, the frantic rush of Black Friday shoppers. However, e-commerce shopping has overthrown in-store retail and never is it so obvious as during the Christmas season.

The lines at the mall are a little shorter and Black Friday sales are matched by Cyber Monday. Christmas and e-commerce belong together in many ways, as online shopping allows people to forgo the colder weather and mall traffic and buy all their gifts from the comfort of their warm beds.

This holiday season, e-commerce spending is estimated to exceed $135 billion, an increase of over $16 billion from last year. Projections predict that the five days around Thanksgiving, nicknamed the “Cyber 5,” will experience online sales upwards of $27.5 billion. Last year USPS, FedEx, and UPS delivered close to 2 billion packages between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.


The Christmas season and e-commerce packaging waste

The Christmas season and e-commerce packaging waste

There are serious consequences from this jump in e-commerce packages being shipped. According to TerraCycle, the holidays dump 25% more household waste than the rest of the year, as a direct result of the increases in online purchases and product shipping.

Behind every gift shipped is a problematic reality of packaging waste. The onslaught of packaging material quickly overwhelms recycling centers and there is a clear spike in e-commerce packaging waste dropped into landfills.

Amazon is taking matters into their own hands, focusing on improving the sustainability of their packaging in efforts to combat the mountains of waste. They began by reducing packaging waste by 16% in 2017, boasting the reduction of 305 million boxes. This year Amazon instituted $1.99 chargebacks for packaging vendors not in compliance with their Frustration-Free Packaging (FFP) standards, encouraging companies to redesign their packaging to reduce waste.


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The central phrase of the sustainability movement rings especially true for e-commerce packaging. The Christmas season bump in e-commerce is an indicator of the future of the industry and companies must scramble to improve their sustainability to keep up.

The first and easiest strategy for improving the environmental impact of your e-commerce packaging is to replace unsustainable materials, like single-use plastics and polystyrene foam with eco-friendly alternatives. EPE USA provides sustainable packaging designs that also offer improved performance by replacing Styrofoam™ with environmentally sound materials, like polyethylene and polypropylene. By doing so, EPE USA has replaced single-impact materials with packaging solutions that are capable of recovery and reuse, which immediately removes substantial amounts of waste from the supply chain.


Material reduction

One of the best ways for companies to cut back e-commerce packaging waste is to simply reduce the amount of packaging material used for each product. EPE specializes in devising custom packaging designs, specifically optimized for a product and its transit chain. For example, our EP3 solution has been able to reduce material by 80% for a product when compared to traditional packaging.



Optimizing product packaging for a product allows for the opportunity to significantly reduce the total amount of packaging material used per product. Taking material out of the supply chain lowers the amount of waste going into recycling facilities, our landfills, and our earth.

Talk to one of our packaging experts today and learn how you can reduce your e-commerce packaging waste this Christmas season.

EPE USA is a certified, Tier-1 member of the APASS network. We design packaging solutions in accordance with Amazon’s Frustration-Free Packaging Standards without incurring chargebacks.




Photo from Chris Watt, Government of Scotland, Creative Commons