The Future of E-commerce is Circular

illustration of boox’s guest post

This blog is an excerpt from our latest e-book “Turning the page: Preparing for the next frontier of e-commerce” by Boox, who is enabling a circular economy for e-commerce brands with reusable packaging. You can check out the rest of the e-book here.

Consumers don’t want their lifestyle to add to the landfill (especially millennials and Gen Z). They are increasingly seeking brands that align with their values and provide solutions to the waste that they and their products create.

The explosive growth of DTC e-commerce has shifted the responsibility of dealing with packaging and product waste from centralized retail stores to the homes and trash bins of individual consumers. The infrastructure to deal with this waste has not (and cannot) evolve fast enough to keep up – our bins, garbage trucks, and landfills are filling up with cardboard boxes, single-use plastics, and fast-fashion textiles.

Over 3 billion (with a B) trees are cut down every year to make paper and cardboard packaging. Cardboard is now the #1 component of municipal solid waste (landfill) in America and makes up 40% of the total, where it decomposes into methane and other greenhouse gases, warming the planet. New clothing production accounts for 10% of total emissions, and 20% of water pollution, globally. Today, consumers buy twice as much clothing as they did just 10 years ago, and keep each item just half as long.

This universal problem is commonly called the Linear Economy – products and their packaging are designed to be disposed of after a single use, by a single consumer. When you need another product, it’s made from new, raw materials, requiring more energy and resources - and creating more emissions. Cheaper products, bigger landfills, and more garbage trucks are not the solution.

We need to make systemic, lasting changes to how we manage waste, and we need to do it quickly, or we will quite literally be buried in piles of our own e-commerce trash.

The solution (it's not hopeless!)

The solution to this massive challenge is a Circular Economy. In a circular economy, products and packaging are designed to be recovered and reused over and over, reducing the need for new resources and dramatically reducing emissions and overall environmental impact over time. But, in order to reuse anything, we need to build the underlying infrastructure that enables it. Boox exists to do just that.

The rise of circularity, reusables, and resale are exciting trends because they’re able to achieve that rare trifecta: Happy customers, an improved bottom line, and a reduced environmental Impact. Progressive brands see the writing on the wall: It’s time to evolve to more sustainable practices, and it's critical to message this to consumers sincerely and transparently - or risk being left behind.

Boox enables circularity for e-commerce brands by combining our award-winning reusable packaging solutions with a robust reverse logistics network. Instead of filling their bins with more waste (and piling on the guilt), your customers are encouraged to return their Boox packaging for reuse, keeping material out of the landfill.

We connect consumers back to brands by creating a new post-purchase interaction moment that becomes a flywheel of engagement and loyalty. This new behavior unlocks a variety of opportunities for e-commerce brands including Take Back programs, sustainability marketing campaigns, loyalty programs based on eco-friendly actions, integrations with resale software, and more. This is a massive white space for brands to drive loyalty, increase CLTV, and stand out from the competition through the lens of sustainability.

But perhaps more importantly: we’re demonstrating that the future of e-commerce is circular – good for your brand, and better for the planet. Stop sending your customers trash, and join the circular economy!

In our latest e-book, we into what e-commerce businesses should be thinking about as we turn the page and head into 2024. Ryder and a handful of our top partners are bringing clarity to an uncertain landscape where recession is looming and customer retention has never mattered more. Download “Turning the page: Preparing for the next frontier of e-commerce.”

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