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What is Carbon Neutral Shipping and How to Implement it?
Blog...What is Carbon Neutral Shipping and How to Implement it?

What is Carbon Neutral Shipping and How to Implement it?

Green News
open box sitting in window sill with potted plant
What is carbon neutral shipping, why is it important in the midst of climate change, and how can businesses strive to implement this eco-friendly way of shipping goods to where they need to go?
Green News
open box sitting in window sill with potted plant

We all know that personal travel isn’t the greatest for the environment, given all of the emissions created by both road trips and airline travel. However, many don’t stop to think about the carbon footprint of their packages – which also often have to travel a great distance to get to their desired destination, and leave excessive emissions behind in the midst of their journey.

person holding boxes

In the midst of a newfound digital world, propelling towards e-commerce in an unprecedented manner following the circumstances presented during the pandemic – it is more important than ever that all companies seek ways to provide their customers with options for carbon neutral shipping in order to aide in the fight to reduce emissions and mitigate climate change. 

What is carbon neutral shipping, and how can companies implement carbon neutral shipping into their business practices? 

What is carbon neutral shipping?

Carbon neutral shipping is when companies aim to transport their products and balance out the amount of carbon emissions created from the shipping and handling necessary to deliver a package. In other words, carbon neutral shipping abides to the values of net-zero emissions – as carbon neutral shipping strives to achieve net-zero emissions for the shipping of all packages. This can be done by seeking carbon-friendly transportation, such as an electric vehicle, or offsetting the carbon emissions produced throughout the shipping and handling process.  

Ultimately, the main goal of carbon neutral shipping is to create a net-zero effect on the carbon emissions produced from activities associated with shipping a package: such as travel by car, plane, or the emissions created from handling services. Carbon neutral shipping is important, as shipping and handling processes aren’t just made from orders online at your favorite cosmetic store or to buy Christmas presents – but also imperative for other worldwide industries such as the purchasing of wine or the clothing industry, as more people are switching to online shopping following the social distancing measures put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic and the global transition to a digital economy. 

Carbon neutral shipping can help to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, prevent waste, and safeguard the environment in the midst of climate change and threatened biodiversity.

Clearly, carbon neutral shipping presents a wide variety of benefits for the planet – but why should businesses care about implementing carbon neutral shipping?

Why is carbon neutral shipping important?

All businesses start with the intention of cultivating success, and that is next to impossible to accomplish without pertaining to the desires of their current and future customers. Increasingly, especially with Gen Z’s use of social media spreading the word on the importance of sustainability – customers are becoming more interested in purchasing products and services from companies that are determined to sustainability and fighting against climate change. Therefore, carbon neutral shipping is important not just for the eco-friendly aspect of it – but in order to establish a successful business and pique the interest of new and existing customers. Also, in addition to retaining customer interest – businesses that pertain to more environmentally friendly circumstances will also attract more investors, which will ultimately help their businesses to grow.

Lastly, while many might make the automatic assumption that implementing more eco-friendly business tactics like carbon neutral shipping are expensive – it’s actually the opposite. Providing options for carbon neutral shipping can help companies to cut back on business costs by mitigating the need to purchase single-use packing materials and reduce their power consumption.

Some may think that packing items sustainably is the same as carbon neutral shipping, but carbon neutral shipping is not to be confused with sustainable packaging. The difference between carbon neutral shipping and sustainable packaging is that one can be done without the other – a product can be shipped and then carbon credits can be purchased or an investment made into a carbon offsetting project in order to offset the emissions created by the shipping process of the package. On the other hand, sustainable packaging refers to the method and materials used when packaging the product itself for the shipping – but sustainable packaging has nothing to do with the shipping process. 

In other words, a product can be sustainable packaged and not be shipped with carbon neutral shipping – just as a product can be shipped with carbon neutral shipping in mind, but avoid the use of recyclable or biodegradable packaging materials. Clearly, it is most beneficial for businesses, customers, and the environment to make use of both whenever possible – but the two are neither intertwined nor contingent on one another. 

If carbon neutral shipping can’t evade the initial emissions created, then how is carbon neutral shipping beneficial for the environment?

How does carbon neutral shipping help the environment?

The thing about carbon neutral shipping, is that there isn’t a full-proof or surefire way to avoid the creation of the emissions from the shipping and handling of packages in the first place. Therefore, the only way for a package to qualify for carbon neutral shipping is to invest in carbon offsetting projects in order to compensate for the emissions created for the shipping of the package. 

blue cloudy sky with green fields

While there are electric cars, there still aren’t electric planes available for widespread use such as commercial travel or transporting packages across long distances. As a result, carbon offsetting projects remain the only way to create a carbon neutral shipping experience for businesses and individual customers. Until new avenues of more eco-friendly transportation are created and established for the future shipping of goods, businesses and individuals can make use of carbon offsetting projects to ensure that they compensate for the emissions created through the shipping and handling of their packages. 

All in all, given the fact that carbon neutral shipping does not evade the initial emissions created from the shipping and handling of packages – it may seem that carbon neutral shipping doesn’t benefit the environment at all. While carbon neutral shipping cannot prevent the emissions created from the travel required for packages to reach their final destination, carbon neutral shipping is still beneficial to the environment – as it can help provide the financial support necessary to research and instill new sustainable methods that are vital in the fight against climate change. 

How can you implement carbon neutral shipping into your business?

Offering carbon neutral shipping to your customers may seem daunting at first, but the great thing about carbon neutral shipping is that there are a multitude of ways to offer it. 

Here are just a few of the ways companies can provide customers with carbon neutral shipping options.

Reduce package size

One of the most convenient ways to offer shipping that reduces carbon emissions is to provide customers with the options to consolidate their order into a single package, or to use the smallest boxes possible when shipping a product.

hands holding mini package with bow

Turns out, that option for your items to come slower in one package instead of sporadically is not only more convenient – but can help to reduce emissions and protect the planet. 

Seek the use of renewable energy 

All of the packages shipped and handled around the world start their journey somewhere – usually in a packaging facility. Those places should seek to implement the use of renewable energy wherever they can to reduce the emissions created in association to packaging and shipping. For instance, these packing facilities could easily swap their lightbulbs for LED ones to reduce emissions.  

Offer a wide variety of carbon offsetting projects

Customers will be more likely to choose a carbon offsetting project that compensates for the emissions created for their package if it is a project that speaks to them personally. Therefore, it’s important to partner with several different organizations with different environmental goals in mind for a company to make their transition to carbon neutral shipping a success. 

Closely monitor supply chains 

If a company is determined to reduce emissions more directly from the source as opposed to relying on carbon credits or carbon offsetting projects to counterbalance their created emissions from shipping and handling, one of the best options is to monitor their supply chain more closely, as it is important to account for the amount of emissions created in each step of the way throughout the entire process of the shipping and handling of a product. While carbon neutral shipping cannot help prevent emissions entirely throughout the process of shipping a package, monitoring the supply chain can help reveal which tiers in the supply chain are responsible for the most emissions and reveal where it might be useful, emission reduction-wise, to cut back. 

Are there other ways to reduce your carbon footprint when shipping a package?

Rest assured – even if carbon neutral shipping isn’t available for your package – there are still several things that you can do in order to reduce the carbon footprint of your package. 

One of the best ways to mitigate your carbon footprint when carbon neutral shipping isn’t available is to commit to sustainable packaging – which is when the materials used to wrap or package a product are completely biodegradable or can be completely recycled after the package is opened for use. 

sustainably wrapped christmas gift

However, it’s important to be careful when choosing sustainable packaging, as many materials will claim to be fully recyclable when they aren’t – and ultimately will create more waste that ends up in the landfill. In order to avoid this predicament, the best thing you can do is avoid the use of single-use plastics in packaging.

Even better: try not to ship a package if it isn’t necessary. In the 21st century, more things than not are available to send online over WiFi connection without needing to go through the process of wrapping and seeking carbon neutral shipping in the first place. Go digital whenever possible with things that used to require shipping and handling: such as gift cards, wedding invitations, and money that can all now be transferred online – there’s no need to make the trip to your post office, spend the money to send your envelope or package, pay for the shipping process, or produce the emissions necessary for the package or envelope to travel to its final destination. 

What about Greenly? 

If reading this article about carbon neutral shipping has made you interested in reducing your carbon emissions to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces.

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