The pandemic and quarantine, full of stay-at-home shoppers, has triggered a global rise of e-commerce and with this, many plastic mailers delivered directly to the consumer’s home are used for packaging. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s estimation, 26% of all plastic made is used for packaging, 72% of which is thrown away.

Nowadays consumers are increasingly demanding environmentally responsible companies, as well as the global government legislations, are now putting restrictions on industries and obligating them to take responsibility for their packaging recycling and waste recovery. For these reasons, the fashion industry needs to pay attention to this oak and generate solutions that consider the supply chain and retail packaging at the source. This includes rethinking new materials and packaging formats, as well as new efficient supply chain systems methods that have recycling, reuse, and disposal methods as their principles.

Now, let’s talk about the ways the industry is responding to this issue. Biodegradable and compostable plastics are not the same thing. Any kind of material biodegrades over time, the issue is that plastic takes centuries to do so. However, compostable plastic is verified for industrial biodegrading within 12 weeks. Aquapak is a company that has created a multi-functional water-soluble polymer (Hydropol) that enables economic recycling and meets the goals of the Circular Economy. All their products are designed to facilitate the elimination of plastic pollution. When given the right balance of environment and microbial presence it will biodegrade to carbon dioxide, water, and mineralized natural biomass.

Another form of facing the packaging problem is paper packing. Some brands are switching entirely to paper and getting rid of plastic. Paper is a strong rivalry in terms of durability to plastic and more important its naturally compostable. Vela’s is an Italian company that has been elaborating bags that are designed to be recyclable, renewable and they have the FSC-certified sturdy. This paper is transparent for inspection and protects the products from humidity or dust.

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Photo: Vela Bags

Returnable and reusable packaging is also a good e-commerce solution for packaging. As we said before, the pandemic has enforced this channel and with this, items wrapped in plastic or bubble wrap are used for deliveries and returns. Returnable and reusable packaging is more durable and stackable and can be custom-made and branded. Re-pack, a Finnish company has created a system where their clients, paying a little extra, can receive their items and swap in a mailer designed to be shipped back for a few dozen more trips through the post. The mailers are made from recyclable plastic and their boosters say that by using them they save more packaging from the landfill than they create.

By Andrea Padilla