Building a Sustainable Future: The Importance of Sustainability in eCommerce Fulfilment

In the era of online shopping, eCommerce has revolutionised how consumers buy and receive goods; however, this has come at the cost of the environment. From excessive packaging waste to carbon emissions generated during transportation, e-commerce fulfilment significantly impacts our planet. As a result, consumers and industry leaders are calling for businesses within this space to develop their eco-friendly practices and make sustainability a crucial part of their eCommerce operations. 

But how do you implement sustainability within your supply chain, and why will it benefit you as an eCommerce brand? Before we explore this, let’s look at eCommerce’s impact on the planet. 

The environmental impact of eCommerce

In the past ten years, there has been a 400% growth in eCommerce sales worldwide, accounting for over a quarter of the UK’s retail sales. However, with this growth has come an increase in environmental impact. 

  • Global emissions from international shipping are estimated to reach 709 million metric tons of CO2 in 2025. 

  • By 2030, the number of delivery vehicles will increase by 36%, reaching approximately 7.2 million – not only adding to the CO2 emissions but increasing commutes by 21% due to congestion. 
  • 14% of consumers claim that deliveries arrive with too much packaging. 
  • Recycling rates for plastic packaging are low, with only 16% of all plastic waste repurposed to make new plastics.

  • 27% of UK consumers consider the environmental impact of delivery 
eCommerce packaging

While these numbers serve as a stark reminder of the urgent need to address the environmental impact of e-commerce, it’s important to acknowledge the strides many brands are already making to ensure they are using sustainable packaging for their products. However, often it is in the latter stages of the supply chain where the focus on sustainability is overlooked; the distribution of online orders.

How your 3PL provide can help your sustainability goals

In today’s world, where environmental concerns are paramount, 3PL providers have a crucial role in promoting sustainability within the e-commerce industry. By adopting sustainable practices, these providers can significantly support brands to reduce their environmental footprint and contribute to a more sustainable supply chain. 

When collaborating with a 3PL or multi-user warehouse, you immediately reap the primary sustainable benefit of resource consolidation. This involves utilising efficient warehouse storage, avoiding unnecessary heating and lighting of vacant facilities, and consolidating courier collections to minimise the emission and transportation impact of multiple collection points.

Furthermore, partnering with the right e-commerce 3PL grants you access to their established commitment to sustainability. This can include initiatives like recycling programs and waste management strategies that ensure proper disposal of packaging materials, ultimately reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills.

Your sustainability goals also heavily depend on the packaging materials employed by your e-commerce fulfilment team. It’s not solely about using recyclable packaging; it’s equally essential to utilise the appropriate quantity of packaging that adequately protects customers’ orders without excessive use of materials. Doing so can lower packaging costs, enhance profit margins, and actively contribute to environmental preservation.

How to identify a sustainable eCommerce fulfilment provider:

In a landscape where most organisations claim to prioritise sustainability, it can be challenging to determine which e-commerce fulfilment partners are genuinely capable of advancing sustainability within your supply chain.

At the most fundamental level, it is crucial to collaborate with a supplier who wholeheartedly embraces sustainable practices across their entire organisation. This encompasses aspects such as their utilisation of reliable energy sources, their waste management procedures, and their efficient utilisation of warehouse space and processes.

However, the scope extends far beyond these basic requirements. A genuinely sustainable 3PL partner should be able to substantiate their commitment to sustainability through relevant certifications and recognition. For instance, at Synergy, we undergo regular audits conducted by independent advisors and proudly participate in the Fast Forward initiative.

Moreover, a dedication to continuous improvement and innovation is indispensable for 3PL providers to lead the way in the sustainability journey. This includes investing in research and development to explore cutting-edge technologies like renewable energy sources and environmentally friendly packaging solutions. By staying ahead of industry trends and collaborating closely with clients and partners, eCommerce fulfilment providers can drive innovation and pave the path toward a more sustainable future.

At Synergy Retail Support, we wholeheartedly acknowledge the significance of sustainability in eCommerce fulfilment. We are committed to integrating sustainable practices throughout our operations and delivering eco-friendly solutions to our clients. Our offerings encompass a wide range of sustainable packaging options, including environmentally friendly materials and packaging designs that minimise waste. Moreover, we are committed to waste reduction through our product sustainability services. We have prevented over 700,000 units from ending up in landfills and recycled nearly 800 tonnes of cardboard and plastic in the past year alone. Additionally, we are actively working towards utilising 100% renewable energy by 2030.

By partnering with us, you can be assured that your fulfilment requirements will be met with a strong focus on sustainability, contributing to a greener future for your business and our planet. Together, we can create a greener future for your business and contribute to a more sustainable world.

Contact us today to discuss how we can help.  

eCommerce Fulfilment Customer Service smiling packer

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Gary Rees

Gary Rees

Gary Rees is the owner of Synergy Retail Support, one of the leading SME fulfilment centres in the UK. Having successfully grown the business for over 30 years and with relationships with most household brands, he now looks to partner with customers rather than just act as a supplier so that both parties can grow together. Gary has extensive knowledge in retail compliance, production technologies, shipping details and customer service.

Feel free to contact me personally if you’d like to discuss your business.

01604 412 290