As online shopping booms, startups jump in with sustainability solutions

The pandemic set off a surge in online shopping—and with it an avalanche of cardboard boxes and home deliveries. Now a crop of startups is focused on making e-commerce more sustainable by reimagining the disposable box, delivery conventions and mailing schedules, according to The Washington Post. 

One such service, Olive, being rolled out today by co-founder Nathan Faust, is partnering with more than 100 major retailers, including Anthropologie, Paige, Ray-Ban and UGG, to consolidate home deliveries in reusable tote bags that are dropped off once a week. Meanwhile, other newcomers offer reusable plastic mailing boxes, compostable packaging and algae-ink shipping labels.

The efforts are part of a larger shift within the retail industry to eliminate single-use cardboard and plastic as consumers increasingly weigh the environmental impacts of fast and easy shipping. Brands such as Clorox, Haagen Dazs and Seventh Generation are moving toward glass, aluminum and stainless steel packaging that can be returned, cleaned and refilled for subsequent uses, with the help of Loop, a program introduced two years ago at the World Economic Forum.  

Retailers have also become more careful about packaging and box size, which has helped curtail waste. Amazon, which accounts for nearly 40% of the country’s online sales, said it has reduced packaging by 33% since 2015, eliminating more than 900,000 tons of packaging material, equivalent to 1.6 billion shipping boxes. Read the full story.