This week, a group of eBay European sellers met with experts working for the European Commission to make recommendations in the field of packaging and packaging waste for e-commerce. It was an opportunity for sellers to bring a wide array of perspectives into a subject that varies a great deal depending on the nature, size and weight of items that are sold and shipped.
In fact, the EU is looking to revise its Packaging Waste Directive later this year, paving the way for measures aimed at fighting against excessive packaging, which can be both unpleasant to online consumers and harmful to our planet’s limited resources and fragile environment.
Participating sellers offered precious insights into their daily experience of packaging, which we hope can serve as helpful guidance for the Commission’s legislative work. In particular, the conversation showed that everyone has a role to play in the packaging chain:
Manufacturers should move towards slightly sturdier packaging, which will allow sellers to eliminate the extra layer that e-commerce often requires to add on top of regular retail boxes to ensure proper item protection during transport.
Sellers can optimize the item-to-packaging ratio, not by applying a one-size-fits-all but rather by leveraging their expertise on items, their fragility and their handling in the warehouse and throughout delivery. They are encouraged to reuse supplier boxes and to find the most balanced solution not only to protect the planet but also to reduce shipping costs, as well as the percentage of damaged items that buyers may ask to refund or replace.
Shipping providers should not impose unreasonable packaging conditions on sellers, such as the use of predetermined box or bag materials and sizes. They are however best placed to optimize the use of truck or container space to limit overall the carbon impact of item delivery.
Consumers should be made aware (for example by public campaigns) that reused packaging does not mean a degraded buying experience but should rather be seen as a positive effort for waste reduction.
We hope to continue to contribute to this important issue both for online small business sellers and for consumers, as eBay puts ever more focus into promoting sustainable and circular commerce.