The Problem

During the last years e-commerce has been a booming and rapidly growing business. In 2019, a total of 3,65 billion shipments were delivered only in Germany, which equals 12 Mio. shipments daily to up to 7 Mio. receivers. The trend is rising with an annual forecast increase of +4,2% until 2024.​1​

When comparing conventional shopping regarding the hidden environmental costs for transport, heating, lights and storage in the stores, e-commerce often has a better overall ecological performance.​2​ However, the packaging’s extremely short service life is one of the most challenging problems.

Mostly single-use disposable cardboard packaging is used. This causes an extremely high amount of waste paper and overflowing waste containers. Even though waste paper is recycled to a high degree and turned into new cardboard packaging, the process still costs excessive valuable resources such as water, energy, fresh paper fibres and produces environmentally damaging chemicals.​3​

The impact

With each reused package we avoid the production of a new one. We help to reduce the environmental footprint of e-commerce! The packaging material alone makes about 5% of the overall climate footprint of e-commerce​4​.

For an average cardboard packaging (150gr of weight) the savings per cardboard are 156gr​5,6​. Also, about 0,0024 trees are saved​7​. Furthermore 123 liters of water are saved ​8​.

Formulas:

#packages * 156gr = grams of CO2

#packages * 0,0024 = #mature trees saved

#packages * 123l = liters of water saved


  1. 1.
    BIEK Bundesverband Paket und Express Logistik. Zahlen & Fakten. BIEK Bundesverband Paket und Express Logistik. Accessed October 2020. https://www.biek.de/kep-branche/zahlen-und-fakten.html
  2. 2.
    Plaß C. Online-Shoppen: Viel zu viel Verpackungsmüll? NDR Online. Published July 2016. Accessed October 2020. https://www.ndr.de/ratgeber/Online-Shoppen-Viel-zu-viel-Verpackungsmuell,zerowaste130.html
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    Simon Malls. Does Shopping Behaviour Affect Sustainability? . Simon – 2016 Sustainability White Paper . Published March 2016. Accessed October 25, 2020. https://simon-malls.cld.bz/Simon-2016-Sustainability-White-Paper/4/
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    James K. Methodology for assessing the climate change impacts of packaging optimisation under the Courtauld Commitment Phase 2. Wrap. Published December 2010. Accessed October 25, 2020. http://www.wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/Carbon_Methodology_-_Nov_2010_V101.f1571b4f.10324.pdf
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    RePack. RePack-Carbon-and-Waste-Footprint. RePack-Carbon-and-Waste-Footprint-. Published 2020. Accessed October 25, 2020. https://www.originalrepack.com/files/RePack-Carbon-and-Waste-Footprint-english.pdf?utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.originalrepack.com%2Fimpact%2F
  7. 7.
    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Environmental Factoids. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Accessed October 25, 2020. https://archive.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/smm/wastewise/web/html/factoid.html
  8. 8.
    van Oel PR, Hoekstra AY. The green and blue water footprint of paper products. Waterfootprint. Published July 2010. Accessed October 25, 2020. https://waterfootprint.org/media/downloads/Report46-WaterFootprintPaper_1.pdf